In August, we sent our youngest off to college. Her departure marked a new and exciting beginning for her. She had prepared for this day all her life, as far as she was concerned, but practically speaking, certainly all summer. She had busied herself making lists and purchases; sorting outfits; and packing boxes, bins and bags so she would have what she would need when she moved into her freshman dormitory.
What was remarkable in this process was her diligence in discarding what she didn’t need. Things she had held on to since elementary schoolposters, pictures, notebooks, clothes, trinkets, gadgets, stackers, bins, books, art work, lettersall went into the pile. Some she sold. Some she gave to friends. Most she gave away. Everything went.
One box particularly touched my heart. It was filled to the brim with trophies, medals, ribbons and plaques. These awards and plastic figurines with their engraved nameplates were mementos of her accomplishments on the fields, courts and swimming pools across the region. They stood as testimony to ‘how good she was that day’ or where her team had finished in the standings. They were tangible and irrefutable proof of her value and valor.
Now, as she readied to depart to her next life destination, she loaded that box of dusty statues along with all the other boxes and bags and drove them to The Closet, which accepts donations of gently-used stuff including plaques, medals and trophies to be refurbished and reused by future athletes and teams. My daughter would be carrying a much lighter load to college.
Oh, the value of those trophies wasn’t lost. In fact, her discarding them was confirmation. She no longer needed to show them to anyone. The accomplishments they represented had done their work; the trophies were just outward representations of her inward growth. She would take that with her wherever she went.
It took me a lot longer than 18 years to even begin to embrace that message. In fact, I seem to have to keep relearning it. I need a constant reminder that the crown I imagine I wear and the trophies I think I deserve are just poor earthly imitations of the worth that’s already been bestowed by a creator who calls me beloved. What a beautiful reminder is offered in the scene at the heavenly throne in Revelation 4:9-11:
“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throneand who lives forever and ever,the twenty-four eldersfall down before himwho sits on the throneand worship him who lives forever and ever.
They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'”
Why do I hold on to earthly things? God understands they mean something to me, but perhaps they’re ultimate value comes in my laying them down at God’s feet. In that very act, they become priceless.
What’s your trophy? Your crown? What might you take up if you laid these down?