Identity, Perseverance, Purpose, Resilience

A Deeper Truth Behind Coach Muffet McGraw’s Vulnerability

Sports are a rollercoaster, and that has been put on display this season by the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball program. 2018 National Champions and 2019 National Runners Up, the Fighting Irish have surprised everyone this season with a struggling performance, currently putting them at 6-11 overall and 1-4 in conference play. To top things off, they fell to NC State in a 34 point loss on Sunday, January 12. Coach Muffet McGraw further surprised everyone after that game with an honest, emotionally distraught answer when asked how difficult the experience has been. See her response below, as well as some deeper truth behind her words.

“I, I just… I gotta do better. I feel like I can fix it, but I didn’t. I’m gonna keep trying, and I’m gonna find an answer, and I’m gonna fix it.”

In reality, Coach McGraw’s words were clearly in relation to her team’s struggling performance. At the same time, however, I think those words echo the cries of our hearts, as well as point us to the only thing that can really fix us. So some truths to remember…

  1. We’re broken.
    When we take off the masks and give up trying to prove ourselves in whatever area we’re most insecure or suffer the deepest wound, we see what’s true. Without the mask, we really are hurting and broken, and that points to the second truth…
  2. We need to be fixed.
    Again, Coach McGraw’s statement was in relation to her team’s performance… not the condition of her soul. I want to be clear on that. This same realization though, that we’re broken, brings our hearts to a crossroad where we can respond in two different ways.
    The first response: “I need to fix myself.” This is a natural conclusion, “I gotta do better. I feel like I can fix it. I’m gonna keep trying, and I’m gonna find an answer.” This has been our pattern since the Genesis account, when Adam and Eve experienced brokenness and sought to mask themselves and be fixed. It’s natural for us to desire this, especially in the world of sport, where every minute of playing time is hard earned and every made shot comes from the result of hundreds prior. In a culture that values us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, we fail to remember that a dead person can’t give themselves life, much less bend down to pull their bootstraps. “You were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked.” (Eph. 2:1) We’re broken.
    The second response: “I give up.” Once we realize our inability to heal our own brokenness, however (and this is crucial), we then have the freedom to look to another for help.
  3. There is a healer.
    If we had to stop at “I give up,” this would be one depressing message. Thankfully, though, while we are broken beyond our own capability to repair, there is a healer.
    Scripture tells us in Ephesians 2, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.” Romans 5:8 promises, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And in this love we can rest confident in Paul’s words: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life… nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

If you’re anything like me, you mess up a whole lot. You have habits you fight daily to break, and you do things you regret. You sometimes treat people poorly, and you have longtime patterns that need to be broken. I encourage you today (as well as myself) to step off of the vicious hamster wheel of attempting to fix yourself, and remember the *Gospel, that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. It’s for freedom that Christ sets us free. Walk in it.

*If you read this and wonder, what is the Gospel? You can learn more about that here.

Song for reflection: 


Written by: Bonnie Durrett

Bonnie is on staff with Athletes in Action Women’s Basketball at the headquarters in Xenia, OH.

3 Simple Joys

  • Hot coffee (black). Lots of it.
  • My dog, Gracie.
  • Opportunities to be creative.

2 Hobbies

  • Crossfit
  • Drinking coffee

1 Favorite Passage 

  • “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.'” Lamentations 3:21-24

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