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The Trophy Box

 By Emily Saunders

I stood there and looked at the box.  I picked up each of the bikini clad trophies and studied it. I was expecting nostalgia.  I was expecting pride.  I was expecting a twinge of motivation.  But there was none of that.  There was nothing.  I smiled and looked at my husband and we giggled.  But nothing. Nothing at all.  

Let me back up…

My older son visits my parents each Summer for a little over a week, and, well, if you’ve ever experienced going from two to only one kid, then you KNOW that means extra energy.  My husband and I  had been talking about cleaning out our basement for – oh- about a year, maybe longer,and then the opportunity presented.  Our toddler naps for a solid 2 hours and it was a Sunday afternoon.  We dove in.  Well mostly he dove in, but I assisted.

As we were finishing up, I located a hidden and buried box, only to peek inside and sigh as I prepared for another 30 minutes of sorting.  This is what I found.

I peered into that box and then briefly picked up each trophy.  I almost held my breath as I waited for the emotions that would come next.  My mind was flooded with reminders of past self-talk linking my physique and “perfect” eating habits to my worth.    Maybe not exactly my worth as a person, but my worth as a trainer.  My worth in the fitness world and among the colleagues that I had gained in a season.  I waited for nostalgia to overtake me, to yearn for days gone by and a season that motherhood and circumstances has ended.  But it didn’t happen.

I felt a sense of relief.  Instead of seeing value in that box, I saw cheap trophies in the form of voluptuous women in teeny weeny bikinis.  I saw a glimpse of the past.  I actually chuckled, at the recognition of the growth I have experienced, at a small glimpse of the steps that God has inevitably guided out of that box, the box I put myself in, the parameters I placed on myself. I experienced the recognition of freedom.  

I took a few moments to ponder what was happening.  Years ago, I clung to these trophies as validation.  They made me feel like I had earned some clout in the fitness world.  They were displayed in my small personal training studio and were a source of affirmation for me and my abilities as a trainer.  

The relief I was feeling was immense. Relief that I no longer look to cheap trophies as a source of pride or authenticity.  It was one of those moments that I could tangibly witness God’s work in my life. These trophies no longer hold any value to me.  Not any.  Another’s opinion of my physique has no value.  I no longer sit and agonize over whether the judges will think my abs are firm enough.  My confidence as a trainer is no longer based on the number of trophies I can accumulate for myself or my clients.

Further reflection took me back to a choice I made 4 years ago when Adler was a baby.  I felt called to do things a little differently.  I felt called to stop focusing so much on the external and physical results I could produce and instead focus on my heart and to help others to do the same.  To stop promising 30 days to flat abs and instead lean in, connecting the faith and fitness journey for women everywhere.  

That forced me to ask myself some hard questions.  What message was I sending?  Was I truly being authentic and vulnerable?  Was I really comfortable in my skin?  What if no one wanted what we offered?  Was I ready to put it all out there and show the messy parts?  Was I willing to share that I didn’t have it all together as a mom, as a wife, as a follower of Christ and that I too struggled with my body image?

I am so thankful that God pushed me beyond my comfort zone and gave me the courage to say Yes. When I said yes the idea,  Momsanity was born.  He gently reminded me over and over again of what matters.  That I'm walking with Him. That I'm listening to Him. That when he told me to hang up my clear high heels and, instead, to pursue a greater calling to actually HELP women rather than making them feel "less than". He had such greater plans: provision when we take a step, growth in uncertainty, confidence when maybe we aren’t the most popular or appealing, development in the discomfort, contentment in sharing my imperfection.

Most importantly He has taught me that the message I would be sharing with other women would actually be a great gift to me. Through sharing a new message and a new perspective that He would deliver ME from old strongholds that have presented themselves in different ways throughout my young adult life.  My external physique is  no longer a source of worth, validation, and status.  

This box is going to the dump. Not because I have anything against fitness competitions and trophies, but because they are of no value to me any more. I am grateful for that season, but it is over, and for that I am even more grateful!  When I told my husband that I was sending this box to the dump he asked if I wanted to keep just one trophy as a reminder of a season gone by.  I thought about it for a moment and then responded.  “No, I don’t really need it.  I’m good”.   He smiled because he knew.  I smiled because I’m grateful.