first prize

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The first prize ribbons and medals were like magic… I thought to myself, “I gotta get me some of those”! I recall the ribbons and medals my brother had when I was very young. I thought they were about the coolest things ever, the trophies? Forget about it… They were beyond magic, almost supernatural. The gold covered plastic was more valuable than the real thing.

I dreamed of the day I too might have a collection of mementos to showcase my abilities. I think that describes many of us, we love to win, be recognized for standing out at what we do. We want to be the best.

The trait is certainly more prevalent in men, but women carry the trait I think, just for different reasons sometimes. Although the world has some less than perfect parents, it’s rare to find a parent, especially a mom, who doesn’t care if they are a good parent or not.

There could be thousands of reasons to want to be the best, but I suspect some of the most popular reasons play to the weakness of our flesh. While difficult to measure, some of those less than beautiful traits can be insecurity, pride, ego, and all the things that fuel our selfish nature.

Our society has played into the weakness of the flesh and made the issue even worse. We celebrate the selfish and prideful while we belittle the humble and often honest. All the trophies, medals, ribbons, and grand prizes made up in the form of clothes, jewelry, cars, and houses, never fully seem to satisfy.

The lasting gratification we seek in the material things of this life are elusive, like catching the wind inside a cup. The majority of people keep chasing that illusive prize in hopes that the laws of nature might suddenly change and they will find satisfaction in the material things of this world.

Pleasing the flesh always seems to come up short, finding peace and satisfaction in our soul is the result of finding out that only God can quench the desire He created inside us.

I ended up with some trophies, medals, and ribbons, not near as many as I wanted nor nearly as many as my big brother, but I’m pretty sure if I would have ended up with as many or even more, they would have ended up in the same place most of the rest of my mementos did; the trash can…

I’ve learned the best part of those prizes was the process of using the gifts and skills given by God to try to do the best I could. In the end that’s the real prize, not the piece of gold covered plastic given afterward. I did manage to save a few of those pieces of plastic for mementos sake, but they are for what I didn’t even participate in.

The trophies I treasure are the ones given to me by the girls I coached. I tried to give the girls an understanding of the gift of hard work and where the real gratification comes from. The trophies that declare the importance of others and a proper life perspective are the ones worth keeping.

It’s a pretty interesting thought; when we give ourselves, we find ourselves… but never in a ribbon, medal, or trophy…