In a transient world, we chase the permanent. A craving for lasting significance is rooted in every human's heart. We know we will not be here long, so we desire to leave a legacy. We want to be remembered.
Which is why I was surprised by the statement Abby Wambach made upon retiring. Wambach retired just a few days ago, and in the recently released Gatorade advertisement (watch here), the former women's soccer star said: "Forget me."
Not the usual: "cherish the golden moments," or "remember the heights I took us." Simply "Forget me."
To me and my culture's ears this sounds strange, and rightly so. "Forget me" goes against the self preserving fiber of our beings. We know all too well those former athletes that incessantly harken back to the "good ole' days" when they "changed the game." Worn down ex-players and celebrities, like broken records, repetitively tout their memories and statistics, desperately clinging to the past. They urge us to etch their names and deeds in the tablets of our hearts. "Remember me" they say. "I was the greatest--never forget."
But Wambach's Gatorade ad rings of sacrifice. She has left pursuing her individual stardom and has chosen to become a part of something greater. She is passing the baton to the upcoming generation of US women's soccer, hoping and asking that they stand on her shoulders to reach greater heights than she. The ad closes with Abby throwing her name tag in the trash and concluding: "So forget me, because they day that I am forgotten is the day that we will succeed."
"Forget Me" is an incredibly Christian anthem. Those in Christ have given up themselves and have become devoted to something bigger. A Movement. A Kingdom. A magnificent Cathedral of which they are but a singular brick. A piece of the mosaic--insignificant alone, but a part of something truly beautiful.
True followers have lost their identity and are hidden in the glory of their Savior. There is no sense any longer in clinging to something so trifling as "self." They stand with John the Baptist (someone Jesus called the greatest) who declared "I must decrease, He must increase."
Unsurprisingly, I wrestle with this. If I am honest, there are often times when I want to catch a piece of the glory myself. I want to be remembered and celebrated for great Christian deeds--immense sacrifices and glorious achievements. I want to get to the end of my life and receive recognition and praise for the difference I have made. How I long to do something great!
Despite my desires, I am frequently reminded that my life is not about me, and that I am not great. My life is about something bigger and for someone who truly is worthy. Maybe at the end we will discover that the greatest legacies are not the ones remembered, but the ones long forgotten. The ones that lost themselves in order that they would find.