throw away the trophies

It’s been a while since I’ve published anything here. Today felt like the right time for these words to be written. It’s funny how life lessons seem to repeat themselves over time! (And no, I haven’t watched Marie Kondo, for those of you wondering ;)

I continue to be amazed at how seemingly small things can teach the biggest lessons. Maybe this is just the way my brain works, or the way God chooses to teach me, but I love it. There is just a subtle whisper in my heart that says, “Hey, pay attention. This is about something much bigger.”

A few years ago, I spent some time cleaning things out of my childhood bedroom. My family has lived in this house since I was 3, so there are a lot of things that have accumulated over time that I don’t use or need anymore. Some things were donated, and a lot thrown away. Books I don’t read anymore, old birthday cards, memories from middle and high school in the form of old CDs, photos, and notes passed in band class. I made it through my whole bookshelf and desk with relative ease, but there was one shelf that I passed over. The top of my bookshelf held all my trophies – from 11 years of swim team, a year of softball, volleyball, and one from a family talent show (yes, we are that family). When my neglect of this shelf was brought to my attention, I felt sad. I had never thought about throwing away trophies…but when I thought about it I realized they are just pieces of plastic…they don’t really mean anything. The thing I was having trouble letting go of was not the trophies themselves, but what they represented to me. The memories and friendships I made during so many summers at the pool, playing cards while we waited for our turn to swim. The skills learned and confidence gained from playing each of those sports and learning to work as a team. Learning volleyball skills from my dad, who coached our team. They represented by ability and my strength – that I know how to play those sports, that I am a good swimmer, and that I am (was… haha) physically fit. Looking at these trophies brought back this flood of memories but I also realized that keeping them wouldn’t prolong the memories – those I can hold on to forever. Proving any accomplishment with a piece of plastic is kind of dumb anyway, even though it looks pretty cool to have them all sitting up there on the shelf. The reality is, only 2 of those trophies were actual awards (I did keep those!). The others were simply a representation of my participation that year.

The more I have thought about what it felt like to throw those trophies away, the more I have realized how easy it is to place such meaning in worthless, temporary objects. We work so hard to improve our physical bodies, to make them look younger, to preserve them as long as we can. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not all bad – it is important to steward well what we have been given on this earth. But our bodies our temporary. They are a vessel for our spirit to live for 80+ years; they are not meant to last. We are spiritual beings with a temporary physical experience. When we live in this mindset, so many things I once felt were important suddenly hold less meaning and value. And other things start to mean a lot more.

The beginning of 2019 has been one of the most intentional seasons of my life so far. I’m finally feeling settled into my job (ahem…career…that still feels strange!), and learning how to balance free time, wellness, ministry, and other responsibilities. This season carries its own challenges like any other, but I can truly say I feel like I am thriving. Living with intention and purpose is not easy, but it’s a practice that feels worthwhile. We only have so many years on this earth, and when I stand before the Lord one day, I want Him to be able to say, “well done, sweet girl” – not because of a shelf full of trophies, but because of lives I have influenced, hearts I have discipled, and relationships I have nurtured. I want to live my life for things that matter eternally, not temporary rewards. I pray I never lose sight of what really matters.

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