Trophies can’t love you back

Several months ago our nine year old (at the time) came into our bedroom.

“Do you guys have any duct tape? My trophy fell apart.”

She was holding her soccer trophy from a few months before. The bronzed kicker had severed his leg. We wrapped it in duct tape and voila! The trophy was as good as new.

“What do you think?” I asked.

She said, “I was kind of hoping the player would say thank you.”

We laughed. I’m sure she meant her comment in jest, but I kept thinking about it. She was reminded that her trophy could not say thank you. The trophy was a symbol of her hard work, but ultimately could not love her back. Often we define ourselves by our accomplishments, our work and those moments of recognition. While it’s nice to receive them, they should not define our worth.

Through Baptism, God reminds us we are beloved children. That’s what happened to Jesus on the day of his baptism as the words echoed from the heavens above across the Jordan River: “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Throughout his life and ministry, when his character was attacked, those words would call him back to himself as God’s beloved. As wonderful as recognitions like trophies can be, they cannot say thank you. They cannot be in relationship with us. When our character is attacked, our hopes are wrapped up in our achievements or the past haunts us, we can lose our true sense of self. Mistakenly, we can define ourselves by what we do or what others say about us.

Baptism draws us into relationship with the creator of the universe who wants to be in relationship with each of us. Our God calls us beloved. That’s who we are. For baptism, I say thanks.

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