Invisible Trophies


Susan wandered into the kitchen, where Mother was busy fixing dinner.

“Would you go get the baby for me, please?” asked Mother. “He just woke up, and this afternoon’s fun has put me way behind in everything.”

Susan’s younger brother Mark had spent a lot of time during the week sanding and painting his car for his first Pinewood Derby race. The derby had lasted longer than expected, so the baby had been taking a late nap while Mother tried to get supper ready.

Susan brought little Jonathan into the kitchen, pulled out a chair from the table, and held the baby on her lap. She sat there so quietly that her mother looked over at her and asked, “Why so sad?”

Susan was staring at Mark’s trophy on the kitchen counter. Mark hadn’t had a very fast car, but it had won the prize for “best looking car.”

“I’ll never get a trophy,” Susan said, sounding very discouraged. “When I went to Lynn’s birthday party last week, I saw her trophies for baton twirling. Claudia has a trophy from her dancing class, and when we visited Grandma last summer, I saw all of Uncle Robert’s racquetball trophies. The only thing that I’m in is the stamp club, and nobody gives trophies for that!”

“You know what?” Mother asked slowly. “I think that you already have some trophies.”

“I do?” Susan thought for a minute. “No, I don’t. Not even one.”

“Oh, I’m not talking about that kind of trophy.” Mother flicked her hand at the trophy sitting on the counter as if that kind of trophy wasn’t special at all. “The kind of trophy that I’m talking about is an invisible one.”

Susan looked puzzled. “An invisible trophy?”

“Well, right now you’re tending your baby brother, and he’s learning to love you, just the way Mark and your little sister do. Remember how you played house with Beth yesterday after school, even though you had other things that you wanted to do? Love is a wonderful kind of trophy, but it’s not the kind that you can see on a shelf.”

Susan looked doubtful as she gave baby Jonathan a squeeze.

Mother smiled and said, “I know of another trophy that you’ve earned. You practice the piano before school every morning, and I never have to remind you. Nobody hands out trophies for practicing without being nagged, but learning to do things on your own is an invisible trophy that will last forever.”

“What good is a trophy,” Susan wanted to know, “if nobody can see it?”

“Remember last fall,” her mother answered, “when a new girl came into your class and some of the kids weren’t very nice to her? You were the first one to be her friend and make her feel wanted. You certainly deserve a trophy for that, but friendship is its own reward, and a plaque on the wall announcing the fact would only spoil it.”

Susan was quiet as Mother put the meat loaf into the oven, but as she looked one more time at the Pinewood Derby trophy on the counter, she said wistfully, “I still think it would be fun to have a trophy to put on my bedroom shelf.”

“Oh, you still have plenty of life ahead of you to collect some of those,” Mother told her. “Just remember that you will probably never get one for the things that really count.”

“Why doesn’t anybody give out trophies like that?” Susan asked.

“I guess that the things that matter most are hard to measure. But when you do good things, you feel good, and that’s better than a whole roomful of this kind of trophy.” Mother kissed Susan on the forehead as she picked up the baby from her lap. “Besides,” she continued, “Heavenly Father can see the real you inside, and He knows that you’re worth a lot! Now, want to help me change a wet baby?”

“Sure thing.” Susan jumped up and followed her mother out of the kitchen without a backward glance at the brown and gold trophy on the counter.

[illustration] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch