The Participation Award: why it's not what you think

Hello June 7.

Sorry I haven't been here in awhile. Between work and graduate school and the happenings of which will be detailed in the paragraphs below, I just haven't wanted to write. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt like I had nothing remarkable or intelligent to say, no morsel of encouragement to share.

Today, however. Today is different.

Today pushed me over the edge. Today made me realize that I can no longer keep this secret.

Because you know what?  

Secrecy steals power it was never destined to hold.

But first, baseball.

The Minnesota Twins stink this year. They really do. And I feel a deep sadness at the pit of my being for them. Nobody likes to lose. I can't imagine what it must be like to be a professional athlete, someone who literally gets paid large sums of money to play the sport of which they've trained their entire lives, and lose... consistently...time and time again.

How hard would it be to stay "in the game" at a time like this? At a time when all your record has to show for itself is more lost games than the infield can count on their hands?

If you've read my former blog posts, you know that this whole "daring dateless" thing started with a dream and a budding relationship...proceeded by a lot of broken heartedness.  I wanted to write to give single people a voice. To let them know they're not drowning alone in the constant outpouring of baby and engagement photos as they wallow away in a deep dark hole desperately trying to rebuild their social network. Making friends as a single adult is like playing minesweeper. You just know it's a matter of time before that new friend gets married off and you need to start the friend-dating thing all over again.

So often I find that single-people-specific messages are written by people who are no longer wading through the messy loneliness that is being a single adult. It's not that their advice is wrong or their hearts don't mean the very's just loses credibility the moment they say "when".


When is of the past. When happened and moved on. When got what it wanted and left the building.

This past week I found myself remembering when. And I cried until all my mascara was pooled in a dark bubble at the bottom of my chin. A great party trick, try it.

Over the course of the last two months the ex-boyfriend, for which I moved across the country, got engaged; the most beautiful man on the planet (read here) got a hot Brazilian-based girlfriend; and that budding relationship I spoke of...yeah he told me today he's been seeing someone for MONTHS...and asked if I'd be interested in dating HIS BROTHER instead. Umm. NO. That's weird. And insensitive. And I thought you'd wait for me...

Our short text conversation ended with him saying he "appreciates me".


Why don't I get that engraved on a plaque and hang it next to my "you deserve better" and "its not you, its me" awards.

You see, I've got a trophy case full of these participation awards in love. I've got plaques on plaques on plaques and boxes of ribbons like the ones you get in 4th Grade track & field for running the mile-run and not falling over afterward.

I'm sick of the participation award.

I'm sick of showing up and "staying in the game" only to "lose" and not "win". 

You know what else I'm sick of, however? I'm sick of realizing that I continue to store up hope in people and things and relationships and hopes of relationships instead of in God.

"Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him." (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

Our hope (i.e. our BIG hope, our eternal hope and expectancy) is found in God alone. And in nothing else. Nothing.

Today made me realize that although I've committed to this year, I've soothed my worry and propped myself up with the hope of a rekindling of that budding relationship year-end in a poetic-romance-novel kind of way.

In essence: I can give my life...if it means I still think I'll get what I want.

"If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it." (Matthew 10:39, NLT)

We were not created to be God and judge his character, nor his plans. How often do we do this? Thinking we know better? Do you do this, this giving up to get thing? Do you give up something with a little something in your back pocket just in case?

This is my secret. And I didn't even realize it.

I'd been hoping in something that wasn't a guarantee and yet I made it one in order to make the disorientation and "not so sure what will happen" of this year easier to follow through on. This was keeping me, however, from fully placing myself in God's hands and trusting that HE would direct my path and bestow blessing and favor in his right and perfect timing...which clearly is not my own.

I want to be chosen. I think all of us do. We all desire acceptance and love and...appreciation. But I don't want all of that at the cost of losing myself in the process.

I refuse to believe the lies that came spilling in today, the whispers that said: "you weren't worth the wait" and "you missed your chance." Those are crap and just not true.

Our God is good. He desires good for our lives. He is love.

Is there an area of your life you need to fully surrender? An area that needs a God-hope versus an earthly one? I pray you find that...and that it doesn't involve an appreciation of your participation plaque to add to your wall.

May we continue to pursue to loose those things that keep us from believing and accepting that our God loves us and desires our good...and bind those things that help us to participate in the award of our eternal home.



  1. S-

    Your heart is beautiful. You are strong and so brave. You are a leader, a woman after God's own heart. I love you so much. Thank you for giving up your hold on these stories and your hopes and your fears. They speak messages far beyond what you think or intended. I am so glad you are seeing the way that your vision has been clouded and that you see the way it is clearing.

    Pain and lies come in all forms. You've spoken truth here. Keep going.

    1. Oh Meg. Thank you. I want to print this off and hang it on my wall! Maybe I'll get this engraved instead. Love to you!

  2. Steph,

    Those verses are truly great. I'm to bookmark them on my bible app now haha. I myself have been struggling with friends letting me down and continually hurting me. It is dawning on me that whilst me can't rely on humans we can truly rely on God and he will never fail or let us down. That is such a great reminder. I need to put my hope in God and not in people. I need to put him first and not others. I am so grateful to have a God I can rely on and for His love and affection.

    I'm so glad you're writing again and that you're continuing to learn and become closer to God.

    You deserve so much better than that horrible guy - and God knows that! He only wants the best for you.

    Keep up the great work I'm praying for you, God bless,
    Ella xx

    1. Ella-You're the best! Thanks so much for journeying with me along the way for your comments. I always look forward to them!

  3. Been awhile. Are you still out there? Any updates? Best, Very Interested

    1. Yes Ma'am or Sir! Thanks so much for reading! Would love to hear your thoughts on today's post. -Steph