I had just crossed the finish line for a timed Crossfit workout, which is my new fitness regimen that prides itself on being brief, intense, and full of functional movements for the athlete. This day’s particular workout was the following: a 1 mile run followed immediately by a total of 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 100 pull ups, and 100 squats, followed immediately by another 1 mile run, for time. 38 minutes and 41 seconds later, I joined the two guys that had already finished.
Winded and recovering, the first to finish and I struck up a conversation. He commented on the fact I ran fast, to which I replied, “Yeah, but it is all I really got.” A few chuckles later, we began discussing running, our personal best times, our favorite races, the insanity of a marathon, and things of the like. Somewhere between “Yeah, mile 20 makes you regret ever taking the first step” and “Oh, 5ks are my favorite,” he and I agreed upon one thing with full gumption: “If I’m racing, I’m going to place and get a medal.”
“I just have to get a medal when I run,” he says. “That is really the whole reason why I enter the races. To place. To win.”
I chimed in quickly with a “Me too!” which was quickly followed by a “And I don’t really know why. The last medal I won, I didn’t even stay for the ceremony. It had to be mailed to me. The medal before that, they draped it on my neck and then I looked at it, smiled, yanked it off and handed it to my kids for them to play with. My huge one from the marathon is crumpled up in the bottom of a drawer.”
You see, even though I love getting the medal, I don’t do anything with it. In fact, I have a whole box in our attic full of medals, trophies, and plaques that have I won, some of which my mom lovingly had framed for me, which I was extremely thankful for, yet before being framed, all my medals from running actually were in a big plastic sack and had caused the medals to corrode from being tossed together unlovingly in a pile. All those medals, earned from winning, from crossing the finish line first, and they were grouped into a messy pile, forgotten.
The guy and I continued our conversations and complemented one another on past race times and the insane workout we had just finished. He astutely noted, “I mean, some medals you get for finishing but most you get because you are good.” We also both laughed at ourselves for the idiocy of pushing our bodies in order to win something we honestly cared little about in the end.
As I drove home, arms sore from the 200 movements that required them to perform, I continued to reflect upon that big box I knew was in my storage space, collecting dust, unseen by visitors. In fact, I don’t even think I have shown them to Thomas and I know for sure my boys have never caught a glimpse of my rewards. When we bought our first home, which we have since moved from, my mom trudged over with the two boxes and said “Now that you have a home, they can stay in yours.” Begrudgingly, I took them, placed them in that home’s storage, and then later hauled them to our current home, only to toss them back in solitude.
Yeah, I can run fast. I am certainly not the fastest ever, but I am faster than most, and people seem to notice that. Plus, I have the medals to prove it, so it must me true, right? However, where does being fast get me in the long run? Words emitted in jest, “It’s all I got” may get me trinkets, but what then?
Where do those moments of “glory” go? In the attic, a drawer, or my kids’ dress up trunk. That’s where, friends. They go away, and no one cares, not even me, the one that personally earned them. In fact, the ones I beat all the competition to earn and win, setting personal or school records in the process, are mingled in with those that I got just for not stopping when running extremely long distances. There is no distinction; they all tarnish the same.
This is why Jesus told us to take a different approach:
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ” Matthew 6:19-21
Where’s your heart? With things on earth or things above? To whom or what do you invest your time, energy, and money?
Besides, as I always said in high school when I won the stupid trophies, “That girl looks nothing like me. She’s too tall and her breasts are too big.”
Bring on eternal treasures, for the earthly ones are not for me.