I scribbled my thoughts on a scrap of paper and tucked in in my lobbying folder one afternoon at the Capitol last April. Reading it again today, my thoughts seemed so very relevant as I continue to encounter more and more of exactly what I wrote about. So, I'll share it below. And, yes, this has been my life for the past year! (I have left out names of particular legislators to protect their identities.)
It has been hard to go from my life of interacting mostly with my family and friends who are "just like me" to a life of interacting constantly with legislators, staff, and the public.
It's so easy to become superficial in this world... simply use people for what you need them for; then move on. It's easy not to take the time to just stop and love then and care about them. The Capitol is full of insincere people slapping each other on the back and oozing with flattery. It has been everywhere for the last couple of years that I've been there, and I've been well aware of it. But I had never fully felt the ugliness of insincerity till last week. Last week, it seemed to ooze from every pore in the granite walls and coat the marble steps. It seemed that everywhere I turned, there was another insincere smile from someone seeking their own interests.
I couldn't get away from it. I finally went outside and slumped on a bench under one of the magnolias and cried, "Oh, God! Am I becoming as insincere as the rest of the building? Am I genuine, honest, and real? Or am I just another smiling, hand-shaking fake? Do I really love anybody here? Do I really care about them?"
I thought about all of the forced smiles and pleasant comments that I had put on that very morning with the senators who hate my bill. Inwardly, I wanted to scream when I said "thank you" to the Floor Leader's office, but I didn't. I smiled, nodded, and acted grateful even though I was furious about what he was really doing behind the scenes. I knew it wouldn't get me anywhere to tell him what I thought of his actions, so I didn't.
I thought about the committee chairman who I had run into in the hall that morning. He told me that he had done what I had asked him to do - kill a bad bill coming through his committee. He grinned and said, "You owe me big, girl!" I had nodded, still shocked that he had actually done what I asked him to. I had stammered, "Yeah, I - I sure do!" That was genuine. I should have been shouting for joy over this improvement; but I only wanted to cry. I blamed it on the four hours of sleep a night that I was running on; the stress overload. I had barely been able to eat my lunch as I was still reeling from a horrible confrontation with a very angry senator. I still couldn't understand why she was so upset, and particularly at me!
And... oh, yes. I hadn't followed up with a thank you note to the Governor's office for the meeting we had on Wednesday. I was planning to write a gushy thank you letter. But, maybe, I decided... a simple, very genuine thank you would be more... more... the kind of person I wanted to be -- real and genuine. I decided to be real. Mom would be happy. She's always telling me to just simply be myself and not worry about impressing people when I'm worried about how I will come across at an important meeting.
Out the bench, the magnolia petals were dropping and being trampled by the hundreds of people strolling past each day. I cried out for a humble heart, a genuine love for lost people, and simple honesty. That sounded better to me than ___'s Rolex watches, french cuffs, and gold tie clasps. It sounded better than ___'s back slapping, flirting, and wining and dining anyone who he wanted to use. It sounded real. It sounded simple, and just plain good.
I smiled through my tears and went back inside to go to work with an honest heart and a genuine smile. My cell phone buzzed. It was one of the senators with some good news. Another real person, who's honest, who's always told me the truth, even if I didn't want to hear it.
His honesty was a breath of fresh air to my asphyxiating soul, choking on the fumes of a disingenuous Capitol world.
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully..." Ps. 24: 3,4
"He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from the holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high.." Isaiah 33:15, 16