The world has watched it over and over again. US Women’s Soccer Co-Captain Megan Rapinoe stands with one leg propped on a railing, balancing the World Cup trophy on her bent knee. She holds a bottle of champagne and thrusts her chin in the air, loudly declaring behind pink sunglasses: “I deserve this.” When her teammate asks Megan what she deserves, the answer is simple: “Everything.”
Glamour claims that this moment is a “mood.” Others have called it an inspiration and a battle cry for women everywhere. I suppose for once in my life I would have to agree with Glamour. I do see Megan’s declaration as a mood. It’s a mood that I recognize because I have so often lived in it–that space inside my own mind and heart where I tell myself that I deserve more. I deserve better. I am owed. I am underappreciated.
This snippet of video has caused all kinds of controversy online. Despite the claims that this is a bright moment for women, many recognize the problem with a team co-captain hoarding glory after a victory. As human beings, we like to see the moments when a sports hero gives all the credit to her teammates. We love watching a star quarterback insist that his team made it all possible. When someone is greedy for glory, even a very talented someone, it makes it difficult for us to admire them. There is something inside of human beings that recognizes that humility is a superior quality.
The reason behind this, of course, is a spiritual one. When we see humility in someone, we are recognizing, even if we don’t realize it, a Christlikeness. We are seeing the image of God reflected clearly in another, and it is beautiful. Even those who have never heard the name of Jesus are innately drawn to a humble hero, as literature through the ages clearly illustrates. Everyone loves an unassuming champion, and we generally despise a gloating victor.
Even though the Glamour editors will tell you that anyone who isn’t keen on Megan Rapinoe’s swagger is anti-woman, the truth is that most people can’t help being repulsed by such overt self-promotion and boasting coming from any man, woman, or child. This feeling, like all desires for nobler and higher ways, is one way the breath of God imbibes us all–when our created hearts see reflections of our Creator in others, and we are drawn to the qualities of Christ. Even the godless can’t resist the urge to cheer on the humble winner and scorn the proud bragger.
For those of us who are in Christ, let Megan’s “I deserve this” moment be a cautionary tale. As much as we are drawn to humility in others, we are prone to prideful self-promotion ourselves. We can be disgusted by another’s pride while overlooking our own, and we so quickly forget that every single good gift comes from the Lord. We love taking credit. We love being singled out for praise and glory. Pretending that we see something in Megan Rapinoe that we don’t daily battle within ourselves is as false as false can be. In reality we are all glory hogs, and we all need a Savior. He bore the awful weight of what we truly deserve, and when our lying hearts start to tell us all of the things we are owed, let us remember the cross. Jesus received a punishment He didn’t deserve to bring us a mercy we could never earn. We deserve nothing. He gives us everything.
You won’t read that in Glamour magazine. You won’t see it in any viral videos. It is more than a “mood” or a moment. It is Life. I’m grateful that God gives us what we don’t deserve to rescue us from what we do.