If you have read any of my previous posts, you probably are aware that my husband and I are preparing for a move. Moving is not new to us. In fact, this morning as I stalled my getting out of bed process, I recollected how many times we have moved. In the twenty-seven years we have been married, we have moved ten times. Ten! I find that to be crazy considering both of us spent all our childhood years without moving. If ever one could define stability, I could as could my husband. I still remember the address of the house I grew up in and my mom still has the same phone number!
But I digress.
Given that our move is going to be
somewhat very difficult for several reasons, I have started the heart wrenching process of going through “stuff” to assess whether it is truly needed as we downsize from a five bedroom home to a three bedroom one. This past Monday the sorting process found me downstairs in the little storeroom that I go into two times a year: once in October to put the Christmas decorations up and once in January to put the Christmas decorations away. Behind those containers that house decorations were plastic totes and boxes that I knew were there, yet I had not bothered with them in the seven years we have lived in this house. As I pulled out boxes and totes and stepped around a very energetic five month old kitten in the process, (one who was extremely excited to be allowed into a room she had never seen before) I came across a box labeled “fragile”. I carefully picked it up and set it on the floor. I pulled back the cardboard flaps folded on the top. As I looked at its contents, a tsunami of memories flooded my mind–and my heart. Inside this medium sized cardboard box with rough handles cut into the sides of it was a plethora of trophies. Pictures from the past played across the screen in my head–our oldest boy in a black soccer shirt, kneeling with a soccer ball and smiling as the photographer captured the image of a five year old boy playing his first season of soccer, our older daughter donned in a blue shirt with a white and blue cap posing with a softball bat as once again a photographer captured a moment in time, our younger son dressed in blue shorts and matching blue shirt kneeling with a soccer ball, and our youngest, our daughter, dressed in a yellow shirt that was slightly too large and holding a baseball bat over her shoulder for her first sport ever, tee-ball. I began to pull out trophies of all shapes and sizes. Some were labeled with the name of the recipient, others simply sported the team name and year. A few were tournament trophies. One in particular was quite large. I took it in my hands and read the gold plate stuck on the front of it:
“Kickers Classic Grand Champions
U15 Girls A Flight”
I remember the day that trophy was awarded. It was Mother’s Day weekend. The weather was cold and rainy. The girls shivered as they waited on the sidelines for their chance to go in the game. It was our older daughter’s soccer team and I was coach that year.
As I pulled out trophy after trophy from what seemed like a bottomless box, my emotions mimicked a roller coaster ride. I went from laughing at the memory of our younger son playing soccer in first grade and how he was very serious about it, while one of his teammates, a little girl, was much more interested in talking to him than paying attention to the game, to sadness that those years are gone. At the bottom of the box were medals for other activities–speech, AWANA, 4-H, and dance to name a few. Awards for a job well done, treasured for a time, then put into a box that ended up in the back of a storeroom. These trophies and awards were at one time treasured possessions–a source of childhood pride in accomplishing something. Years later, they are discarded–no longer seen as important to the ones who once doted on them.
The physical and emotional roller coaster of Monday took its toll on me. Yesterday found me not feeling very well. I spent a lot of time just trying to rest and regain some strength. As my mind wandered to the immense task that is ahead of me in getting ready to move, I couldn’t stop thinking about the box of trophies. How could something that at one time held utmost importance in the life of the recipient lose that value to the point that permission is given to throw it away? Those trophies were earthly treasures. They held value at a time when plastic trophies and medals mattered. Children get excited about trophies and medals, but there comes a time when children grow up. Even a hard earned trophy (as opposed to one that every participant received) loses its value when one is no longer a part of what it took to win it. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” The plastic trophies held meaning when the recipient was a child. But children grow up and realize that, in reality, even the largest of trophies hold no real value. They are tossed aside with that week’s trash pickup never to be seen again. Imagine how silly it would look if a grown man, a CEO of a successful organization, had his tee-ball trophies displayed in his office.
Life on earth is like that. No thing on this earth will last forever. Jesus told his disciples in Luke 21, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life and that day (Jesus’ return) come upon you suddenly like a trap.” (v. 33-34, emphasis mine) All the stuff that we gather in life, all our treasures, will pass away at some point. For me, this is a reminder that it is okay to enjoy the things I have, but to always be careful that the things I have do not have me.