Saying Goodbye 

Well, that’s it. Seven years of my life. Done. Seven years of reading and memorizing. Completed. Seven years of jumping and stressing. Finished. This was it. And I have written about Quizzing so many times before, but I have never really had words to explain it, and I am sure I still don’t now. But, I’m going to try. Because it’s important to me. It has been the thing that has had the single greatest impact on my life. It has been the thing I have loved the most for seven years. But, it has also been the thing that has caused the most pain and tears.

Seven years ago, I started Quizzing. And I was excited, hopeful, and very naive. I was a competitor. I loved to win. I wanted to succeed at everything I tried. I wanted to be one of the best at all I did. But, being good at something requires work. So, I put in the work. A lot of it. But, unfortunately it didn’t always produce the results I wanted.

This week was my last Nationals. And, at this point in my Quizzing career, I had hoped more of myself. Not that I am a bad Quizzer. I’m just not as good as I had wanted to be. And some of that is because I could have done more for myself. I could have worked harder on prejumping. I could have worked harder on jumping faster. Some of it is because I reached a point where my coaches had done all they could for me. When there was nobody left at my church to challenge me. Some of it was that I didn’t have the same “raw talent” that others had, so I had to work harder to get to a higher level. (It’s like any sport, a person can only have so much raw talent and work so hard before coaches are needed to push you to the next level. Not that my coaches did a bad job. In fact, I genuinely believe they did an amazing job coaching, supporting, growing, and training our Quiz team. However, I had no problem motivating myself, and they had to focus on helping and motivating others who may not have had such internal motivation, so it was more difficult for them to give me the little extra I needed to push me to the higher level. But, to all the Pearce coaches, thank you for your amazing coaching and your selfishness and willingness to help with such an amazing ministry.)  But, whatever the case may be, I didn’t reach the goals I had set for myself as a young, naive, hopeful 6th grader, despite the endless amounts of work, sweat, and tears I had put in, and the immeasurable amount of stress I caused myself. And this week was the culmination of everything I have worked so hard for. It was the end of a career. The end of a part of me. So, it was, understandably, an emotional week.

It started on Thursday night. The whole week, I knew this was my last Nationals. I knew the second quiz we lost was my last quiz as a Quizzer. (You know QUIC is never out of the question). But, I didn’t feel sad until that night. Even after we lost, I wasn’t really that sad. Disappointed. Wondering what I could have done better to win. Reminiscent about all the things I could have done differently over the past seven years. But not really sad. That night, however, I gave a little pep talk to the Quizzers. I told them all how proud I was of them and all the work they have put in. I told them to continue to compete well. I told them to always remember that Quizzing is about more than winning. I told them to never get so caught up in the competition that they forget to allow Quizzing to impact them and change their lives. Because it will. I’ve seen it in others, and I’ve experienced it in myself. And my coaches asked some Quizzers to pray for me as I prepare to go to Kenya. And my teammate and fellow senior volunteered, as did a young rookie for whom I had prayed earlier, and whom I had become pretty close with over the course of the week. And I began to cry, because all of these kids have touched my life, and I hope I have touched them in some way, even if it is small. And although I will definitely be back to coach, it won’t be exactly the same, and I’ll miss them and Quizzing so much. And ever since then, I was an emotional wreck.

The next morning, we had a Kenya commissioning. The words that Pastor Scott spoke made me cry. The words, prayers, hugs, and support of teammates, friends, coaches, competitors, role models, and leaders was amazing. I was in tears the rest of the service. It was beautiful.

Individual finals came along, and I cheered for all the Genesis Conference Quizzers who had made it. Because I was proud and happy for them. I was. But, somewhere deep inside, very deep inside, I was sad. Because I had hoped that at some point in my career that would have been me. That I would make it that far. And I was so close once. But, I was never close enough. I’d wanted to make it to the Alpha and Omega round, but I gave up on that dream once I realized it was just that- a dream. However, I never quite gave up on this one, because I am a hopeful person, and I needed some nearly impossible dream to keep me motivated. So, I was genuinely happy and excited for them but also a little disappointed in myself for not working harder.

The Alpha and Omega round came, and it was intense. Again, I was excited and proud of everyone. For the first time in Free Methodist Bible Quizzing history, the Alpha and Omega was being brought to New York.  Some part of me deep deep down however, again wished I had been up there. But, the tears flowed not from sadness for my lack of accomplishing my dreams, but from the realization that regardless of who won, the loss would be even more heartbreaking than it normally would be. These two teams were best friends. And one had to lose. One had to win. They both deserved to win. They both worked so hard. But only one could win. And the loss was devastating, while the win was amazing.

It was an emotional week. It was devastating, hilarious, stressful, amazing, beautiful, and sad all in one. It’s been an emotional seven years. I’ve set goals I’ve never reached. I’ve battled the idea that I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t the best. I thought my competition thought less of me because I wasn’t as good as they were. I’ve fought the disbelief I had when they told me I was a good Quizzer or that I worked hard. Because, for a while, I didn’t believe it. But, I’ve since stopped thinking such things. I’ve done well enough. And Quizzing is about much more than winning. And if I had won all those competitions, I would never have gotten as much out of Quizzing as I did.

Because for me, Quizzing has become about more than competing, learning Scripture, making friends, and having fun. It’s become the little moments I love so much. The time a young Quizzer came to me for advice, as a friend, not as an older, more experienced Quizzer. The time I allowed a rookie who was in tears to just sit in my room and talk, hug, and cry. Alone and away from whoever was causing her tears. The times I had “powwows,” as a young Quizzer called them, to encourage, support, and motivate my team and my church. The times I won competitions. The times I lost. The times my competition told me “good job,” knowing they actually meant it. The time I was congratulated on an amazing Quizzing career, despite it not being what I had hoped, by someone whose own church’s Quizzers, and children, were significantly better than I was. The hugs given and received at the end of everything. The jokes. The sassy comments, some of which were probably meaner than necessary (sorry.)  The time I did a puzzle on the flight home with a rookie because she asked me to. The time someone other than my parents and my own coaches told me they were proud of me. All these moments are what makes Quizzing so amazing. It’s more than just memorizing Scripture and entering a strong relationship with God and others. It’s finding who you are and accepting whoever it may be. It’s being a leader and role model for the younger Quizzers, but also, and more importantly, a friend. It’s living, loving, laughing. It’s tears and joy. It’s home. It’s a part of me.

And, although it has all come to an end, I am excited for the future. Because I am coming back. I’m going to coach, or Quizmaster, or spectate. Whatever is needed. Because you can’t get rid of me that easily. Quizzing has meant too much to me to just walk away. And I’m excited to go live my life using all the tools Quizzing has given me to help me succeed. I don’t know what the future holds. But, because of Quizzing, I am well acquainted with the One who holds the future, and I have some amazing people by my side. So thank you so much. Saying goodbye is hard, but it’s not goodbye so much as it’s the start of a new adventure and experience.

This week was my last week being a Quizzer. My last quiz tournament. My last question answered. My last time competing. There were many tearful goodbyes. There were many hugs (so many that my dad is worried I caught cooties.) There were hearts ignited for God. Wicks were lit. Embers were spread. Coals were reignited. Hearts were set on fire. And this is what is Quizzing is all about. Lighting young people on fire for God. Giving us friendships that reach deeper than anything. Drawing us closer to God. And it has impacted me more than words could ever describe. In more ways than I could explain. But, to sum it up I use these photos. Because, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here is seven years described in seven photos.

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