Abby Wambach is right. (And why that matters for us.)

on December 17, 2015 in Culture Matters with 8 comments by

Abby Wambach is right. (And why that matters for us.)

(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. 

. . . . .

8 comments

  1. posted on Dec 17, 2015 at 9:05 AM  |  reply

    Oh my word. Tears. Yes and yes.

  2. Michaeleen
    posted on Dec 17, 2015 at 10:04 AM  |  reply

    Wow! This is so good! Thank you! What a great reminder for me as I begin my new journey on Young Life staff trying to navigate through these new responsibilities and figure out how to lead these students well. Also love me some Abby Wambach too!

  3. Mandy
    posted on Dec 17, 2015 at 2:40 PM  |  reply

    First of all, OH MY GOSH, I cried too! Second, I surprised myself that I was actually having a hard time with the concept of being forgotten. While watching the commercial, I wanted to grab the sides of my computer screen and yell, “But, Abby, you have accomplished so much! We could never forget you!” and sink into a puddle of tears at my desk. When I read that she also deactivated her social media accounts yesterday as well, ending with the message, “Make them forget me,” I felt a minor panic on behalf of all that seemed to be forfeited in that moment. What a selfless idea. And why do I have such a hard time with it? I realized how difficult it is for me to think of pouring out so much of myself and then not receiving the glory. Sheesh, who knew that a Gatorade commercial could be so enlightening? My grip on my legacy, my accomplishments, my life was way tighter than I thought. I realized that if I were in her shoes, or cleats (sorry, had to), I would have been much less willing to turn people’s eyes away from me and toward the bigger picture. I would struggle with letting go for the sake of others, of working until I had no more to give and then fading out without demanding that the spotlight follow me. But that is our role in the gospel, in the Great Commission, in making disciples. In this race, should run our guts out, not for our “legacy,” but for God’s glory. Thanks for helping shine a light on my selfishness and for making me more aware of my need to pray that I would make less of myself and more of Him.

  4. posted on Dec 17, 2015 at 6:22 PM  |  reply

    Well said Annie! As someone who grew up and felt the impact of all the great women who have played the game and kept the ball rolling it’s bittersweet to see them leave the game, but so excited for the next generation to play their part.

  5. posted on Dec 17, 2015 at 11:58 PM  |  reply

    Love this so much. Such a beautiful reminder. Also, Annie please write a new book, we need some more of this truth and wisdom 🙂

  6. posted on Dec 19, 2015 at 11:55 AM  |  reply

    Thanks Annie.

  7. Mary Rose
    posted on Dec 27, 2015 at 10:39 AM  |  reply

    Thank you for this. It changed me. I emailed it to my best friend and I bet it will change her to.

  8. posted on Feb 21, 2016 at 3:32 AM  |  reply

    seeester, this post helped me a TON .but now it’s spinrg. halp. how ’bout an abby-does-spring/summer post? b/c, selfishly, your advice for her conveniently translates to me love you!

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