Friday, December 22, 2006

The End of an Era

It still hasn't quite sunk in yet, but today marked the end of a decade of working in the U.S. House of Representatives. In many ways, this hadn't come as a surprise -- I had been looking for a new job for several months, one that would boost my salary while not requiring me to work 12- and 13-hour days that were so prevalent at regular intervals throughout the year. With a three-year-old daughter and a wife pregnant with a second child, a job with those hours just wouldn't have been fair to anyone.

However, what was unexpected was the fact that, immediately after election day, I found myself as one of the hundreds of "collateral casualties" resulting from the switch in power from Republicans to Democrats. Many members of my family who are Democrats called to gently rub in the massive GOP losses on November 7, only to find out that I got voted out of office along with many of the members of the House. I certainly don't hold that against them though; in fact, my youngest sister voted for the first time this year, and I can only be proud of the fact that she educated herself about the candidates and issues in her area and went out to cast her ballot.

It's certainly been a great ten years. I've had the honor of working with some phenomenal staff members during that time, but more than that, I've been employed by three of the best Members imaginable: Sonny Callahan (Alabama), who first took me on as an intern in 1996 and then (in his own inimitable way) jokingly told folks that he hired me as his field representative one year later because I just wouldn't go away; Jo Bonner (also of Alabama), who gave me a great opportunity to be his press secretary in the heart of the action on Capitol Hill (and to try to fill the big shoes he left behind when he was Sonny's press secretary); and Jim Nussle (Iowa), who brought me on board to give me the chance to work for one of best committees in Congress. I learned more than I would have ever thought possible from each of these men, and I will certainly carry many of these lessons into the next phase of my life.

My last few days on the Hill were really bittersweet, a time when I could roam around some of the offices and visit with old friends to say goodbye. I also took the time to wander through the Capitol one last time and soak in the history and wonder of that magnificent building. I've been around it and in it for so many times that I really took for granted the fact that I'm one of the privileged few who could walk over there whenever I wanted and just look around. At the end, when I realized when my time on staff was at an end, I just had to go through one more time. How often do each of us go through life -- with places, with family and friends, with jobs, with just about anything -- taking so much for granted, and not realizing what we have in front of us until it's too late. It is a powerful lesson indeed -- NEVER take your time here for granted.

The next phase represents the great unknown in my life, however. I'm so much of a Type A personality that I always like to have everything planned out in advance and know pretty much how things are going to work. In this, I don't; I've had some very successful interviews and have progressed well into the hiring process at several firms, but there's still no solid answer on where I'll be hanging my hat in the new year. I keep reminding myself that God will put me where I need to be when I need to be there -- and I'm sure he's getting quite a chuckle that I'm insisting on continuing to try putting Him on MY timetable, rather than surrenduring myself to his schedule.

I can certainly use the next week after Christmas (a nice period of down-time before my next round of interviews) to reflect on the changes in my life, and to think about many of my friends and coworkers find themselves in a similar position. God has plans for each of them, too; I just hope they are aware of that and carry that knowledge with them from one day to the next.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Matt...had no idea. Sounds like God has a whole new season in store for you! Stressful times, but you'll do fine. Bless you all, and I know that the coming year will be great.

ipanema said...

Hey, I was expecting the worst in my blog.

We all have our times, chances, opportunities. Yes, it was a privilege for a few to be up on the Hill. You had your fill. I think you're heading for a more fulfilled life ahead.

Cheer up, alright? Remember there's always a reason.

God bless you and your loved ones!!!

Be here.

Dad said...

No matter what the future may hold for you and your family, know this - I have always been so proud of you and all that you have accomplished in your life. Remember the conversation we had on the mall a few years back? Look how far you have come! God has been with you in the bad times as well as the good times. As your grandmother said all the time, "There is nothing that God and I can't handle!" God does most of the handling - you just have to put your trust in Him! Some days I can just see her watching over you - just like she did when you were so young - and I know she is so very proud of you and all you have done!

To paraphrase Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:19ff - I remember my affliction and my misery, my soul still remembers them and is humbled within me. When I recall them, it brings hope. It is because of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning - great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore I will hope in Him.

Every morning is new - God's mercy is limitless and never fails. As the song says, "Morning by morning new mercies I see - All I have needed thy hand has provided - Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me."

I'm here when you need me...

rdl said...

Sounds very bittersweet; but you are right it will all work out for the best. I love the expression: When one door closes, another opens.
Merry Christmas!!