Saying goodbye to a gift

In her final post, Katie reflects on the summer she spent in the nation’s capitol.

Kathryn Watson, Writer

Goodbyes. They’re an inevitable part of life if we ever move on to other places, other things, in life. And even if we didn’t, there would be others who would and there would be farewells just the same.

This week seemed like a never-ending stream of goodbyes. After 10 weeks, D.C. had become, for lack of a better word, normal. I had my church, my work, my schedule, my routine, my friends. And now, the anomaly isn’t that I’m far from my family and friends back in California. The anomaly now is that I’m leaving the life I knew this summer behind. As much as I love California and can’t wait to be back, here sitting by a window watching the Atlanta sunset as I wait for my connecting flight, I really think I could have just stayed.

This week was filled with spending last lunch and coffee breaks with close friends I’ll probably never see again, writing a heap of thank you letters to the people who deserve them, consuming cake with my editors and standing in the sanctuary of CHBC (Capitol Hill Baptist Church) one last time.

Sentimentality aside, I’m trying to determine how to sum up this summer. Whenever you’re gone for any extended period of time doing something out of the ordinary, you’re bound to hear the question “How was it?” Moreover, you’re expected to know how to answer. It’s never as simple as it sounds.

I could say it was “fun,” which it certainly was. I spent many Saturdays exploring the nation’s capitol and had lots of laughs with good friends. I could say it was “insightful,” sure. I worked alongside people I consider some of the best in the field week after week. I could say it was “a time of growth,” which encompasses the spiritual, professional and personal aspects of this summer.

But the words that, I think, best describe the past 10 weeks are “a gift.” There is no way I deserved to be placed at the nationally recognized newspaper that happened to be my first pick in Washington. There is no way I deserved to have an understanding roommate who put up with all my quirks. There is no way I deserved to meet experienced people in the field who have promised to help me find employment post-graduation. There is no way I deserved to be blessed by the sold-out-for-God flock at CHBC. There is no way I deserved any of it.

But then again, one of the greatest lessons I’ve been relearning this summer is just how little we all deserve the much that we have.

When we encounter these gifts we don’t deserve, I suppose we have two options. We can either try to unravel the mystery behind them and thus, reinforce the self-centered and false notion that we are the ones in complete control of our lives. Or, we can accept them gratefully and, in turn, look for ways to extend that grace to others who are just as undeserving as we are.

That is one of the beautiful things about a gift. Its purpose isn’t entirely fulfilled once the gift is received. You have to use it — not because making the most of the gift somehow makes you more deserving of it, but because that’s just what’s right.

Now comes the real adventure — applying what I’ve learned so that I’m not the only one who benefits from it all. I can’t wait to figure out what that looks like and make it a reality.

Weeks down: 10
Weeks to go: 0
Adventures ahead: many

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