By Bryce Asberg, written 3/14/16
Disclaimer: Most mentions of my placement are based off of my memory, and might be a little off. Also, the intent of this blog post has nothing to do with self-promotion, and everything to do with an attempt to remind others of the incredible wonder of quizzing and the life we have been blessed with.
When I reflect on my early quizzing career, I recognize that the emotion that best characterized my experience was not stress, fear, or even joy; it was awe. I was just simply amazed that such an incredible program could exist, and that I could be a part of it. It was so amazing to win a jump and answer a question, even quizzing out occasionally. Practices were wonderful- in fact, the year before I quizzed I attended practices and memorized key verses as the “team mascot.” My quiz book followed me everywhere, and every quiz meet was proceeded by an ecstatic Facebook status update.
This sense of wonder renewed itself when I was in 7th grade and went to Great West Invitational for the first time (in forever). I was stunned to travel outside of the country for the first time, to play mafia for hours on end, and to witness Cutty’s incredible ability to make up songs (and pretend that they actually exist) when playing Encore. The rural beauty of Southern Alberta Bible camp was incredible, and frolicking up a hill with Caylee Bammer and Jonathan Van Schenck will always rank high on my list of favorite memories.
And perhaps the most amazing part of my quizzing experience (so far) came the following year in eighth grade, when I discovered the magic of actually quoting what I memorized (instead of my previous strategy of memorizing and then forgetting). This revolutionary tactic facilitated a jump from an average of 45.22 at District Meet 4, to an average of 72.67 at District Meet 5, guaranteeing me my first finish in the top 5. This was even more astonishing since it came on the heels of a 21st place finish at DM 4, and a 19th place year-to-date ranking (prior to DM 5). After Meet 5, I had another incredible experience at Great West (shout out to teammates Hannah Stuart, Emma Madsen, and Jamie Rand, and coach Kim Fisher!), including a team finish in the top nine, loads of fun, and a higher than expected personal average. Yet God was not done with this year of quizzing, and at District Championships I got a perfect 90. I look back on this with fond memories, but I do not boast in it, for I know that it was not just, or even primarily, my doing. While I certainly knew the material better than I had before, a perfect 90 was an undeserved blessing.
A 90 allowed me to eek my way into the top 5, and I could not believe it, but I was headed to internationals. A crazy time ensued, with lots of new information, studying, and plenty of laughs (usually at Silas’ expense :] ) Oh yeah, I would be remiss if I did not mention that this internationals trip also included my first visit to Chick-Fil-A (and yes, I do still have the receipt to prove it!). Unsurprisingly, my sense of wonder continued throughout the rest of my 8th grade year of quizzing.
And yet, between 8th grade and now, something happened. Entitlement crept in, and as anyone who has experienced life can tell you, complacency is a close companion of entitlement. Over time, I stopped viewing quizzing as an incredible blessing that I was privileged to be a part of, and I instead viewed quizzing as an obligation. Sure, quiz meets, and even practices, were still fun, but I was not regularly blown away by the chance I have to participate in this program. And in retrospect, that shift in semantics had an incredible impact on my quizzing.
I was one year older, and my place in the top 5 was much firmer, so you would expect that my average at Great West would be decent, even if it was not as high as the year before. In 8th grade I earned an average of 26.25 at Great West (a tie for 8th place), yet when I was in 9th grade, my average was my record low for me, a 1.00 (equal to 62 place of 65 quizzers, and the lowest score of any PNW quizzer). What? How did that happen? And this wasn’t a one-time occurrence either, as it was followed by a sub-par internationals performance and a GW average of 0 the next year. Again, I ask why? The only satisfying answer I can come up with is complacency and a sense of entitlement infiltrated my thinking. (Perhaps my former teammates or coaches may have additional answers; I am certainly open to hearing them. However, until I hear another reasonable explanation, my answer will stand.)
Now let me be abundantly clear, me blaming my failures on complacency and entitlement is not an attempt to avoid taking personal responsibilities for my mistakes. I completely accept that I am the one responsible for my sub-par quizzing performances. That being said, simply blaming myself does not get me any closer to improvement if I don’t identify weak spots and work to improve them. After being unable to identify the root cause of shortcomings in my quizzing, I would just shrug it off as a lack of studying and preparation, which was certainly a factor, but there was more than that going on.
What I needed was an entire paradigm shift. I needed to go back to the wide-eyed 6th grader entering Moses Lake for the first time. I needed to be the kid who was stunned to travel to Canada and overwhelmed at the notion of dealing with an exchange rate. I needed to behold quizzing for what it really was: a wondrous program which I could never be worthy of.
And yet I didn’t know that that’s what I needed. Until last weekend that is. For some reason, last weekend, right after District Meet 5, God opened my eyes to what I was missing. Suddenly it hit me like an exhaustive list of Interrogatives: I was viewing quizzing the wrong way. I had lost my sense of wonder. I was not amazed at quizzing anymore! Quizzing was not a blessing, I had earned it I (subconsciously) told myself.
Maybe it is possible, but I don’t know how you can be thankful and consistently work hard for something that you feel you are entitled to. Undoubtedly this attitude, and the way I was quizzing, run contrary to the sentiment of Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” If quizzing was ever more than an afterthought, I was simply checking off boxes. I gave no thought to the beauty of the quizzing program and what a blessing quizzing was. Shoot, I hardly even meditated on what I memorized. Just check a box and move on.
I was quizzing wrong, even if at times I looked like I knew what I was doing.
I can make no promises about how my quizzing will be in the future. Maybe I will error out in every quiz I ever participate in. Maybe I will blow it like it has never been blown before. Maybe all my challenges will be overturned. Maybe I’ll finally annoy my teammates to the breaking point (Though let’s be real, if it hasn’t happened yet, it probably never will). I don’t know. But this much I do know: quizzing is a blessing and it is something I am very fortunate to be a part of. I will do my best to conduct myself in a way that recognizes that the opportunity to quiz is an undeserved gift, and that I work for the Lord, not human masters.
That is the point of this whole essay I suppose, to explain what I think happened to me, how it affected me and my quizzing, and to try to help others avoid making the same mistake. My friends, teammates, mentors, and coaches, quizzing is a gift. Never forget that, and never lose your sense of wonder.
Thank you for providing this wretched sinner the chance to participate in a program he was never worthy of.
To the Praise of His Glorious Grace,
P.S. Nothing in this essay should discourage you from studying. Studying is an integral part of quizzing success. However, in my experience, successful studying is greatly aided by a proper attitude and motivation.
P.P.S. Please recognize that not everyone is going to be an internationals or GW quizzer, and not everyone can invest the same amount of time into quizzing. What I described as quizzing disappointments might be a success for someone else, and that is fine. The important part is memorizing and meditating on God’s Word, and working for the Lord, not human masters. The value of statistics and placements pale in comparison to the real goal of quizzing.