(image cred: USA TODAY SPORTS)
Abby Wambach retired yesterday as one of America’s most influential, impactful, and talented soccer players. More international goals than ANYONE who has ever played soccer- male or female. World Cup champion. Olympic Gold medalist (twice). 2012 FIFA Player of the Year. (And the list goes on. If you don’t know soccer, just take my word for it: she’s the best. Like, literally.)
Abby and I are the same age, and though our soccer careers had significantly different trajectories :), I’ve admired her play for years… decades, actually. Watching her retire has been interesting to me. Another player our same grade retired earlier this year, long-time Liverpool player Steven Gerrard, and it all has me asking AM I SUPPOSED TO RETIRE AT 35 WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME TO OPEN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT SO I COULD QUIT WORKING TODAY?
(Kidding. I have a savings account. It’s just near empty.)
Yesterday, the internet was abuzz with Abby Wambach tributes, and rightly so. But this one stood out to me. (Meaning. It made my cry at my desk.)
“Forget me, forget my number, forget my name, forget I ever existed,” she says. “Forget the medals won, the records broken, and the sacrifices made. I want to leave a legacy where the ball keeps rolling forward, where the next generation accomplishes things so great that I am no longer remembered. So, forget me. Because the day I’m forgotten is the day we will succeed.”
I teared up watching it, not just for the soccer history and the impact of her leaving the sport, but because the truth in this Gatorade commercial is true for all of us. While I probably don’t agree with everything Abby has ever said or done (and we aren’t real life friends), she is so so right on this one.
If we are leading the next generation correctly, our names can disappear from the spotlight, but we will live on in the hearts and accomplishments of the people that know us, close up or from afar. My impact is not dependent on how many people recognize my name in fifty years, but on how many people live differently because of how I lived.
It’s a Gospel idea, really. Don’t live for yourself, don’t live for your own glory. Don’t work to be remembered, work to make a difference. For those of us who follow Christ, that’s the goal, isn’t it? Don’t remember me, remember Him. Don’t follow me, follow Him.
Don’t be like me. Forget me. Be like Him.
It doesn’t matter your job: soccer player, author, speaker, teacher, garbage collector, preacher, film critic. Abby is right for you just like she is right for me. When we fight to hang on to our legacy, it will slip through our fingers. But when we fight to help someone else leave a legacy and make an impact, that’s when the world is a better place.
To be fair, will we forget Abby Wambach? No way. I won’t, at least. No soccer fan in this generation will. But I also won’t forget Beth Moore or Tom Tanner or my own parents. You just don’t forget the people that cleared the path for you to be who you want to be. And I want to be that for the next generation- I want to see them far surpass me, buzz by me in knowledge and influence and skill.
So today, I’m asking myself: am I living in a way that says I’m seeking to be remembered OR living in a way that causes change and impact for the glory of God, even if I’m forgotten?
And I think my answer is simply what Abby already said. I want to leave a legacy where the ball keeps rolling forward, where the next generation accomplishes things so great that I am no longer remembered.
So, forget me.
. . . . .