Everyone who plays soccer dreams of getting an invite to represent their country. Jaelene Hinkle is no exception. On a few occasions that dream has come true for Hinkle. But last year, she declined an invitation to play for her country.
That’s because some things, things like conviction and principle, are more important that dreams.
Hinkle decided not to play for her country last year because the U.S. Women’s National Team was commemorating LGBTQ Pride month by wearing jerseys with rainbow colored numbers. Hinkle said, “I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey.”
So rather than putting her convictions aside to follow her dream, Hinkle stayed at home.
The 25-year-old Hinkle hasn’t been invited to play for her country since her decision. But she has continued to play for her club team, The North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League. On Wednesday they faced off against the Thorns in Portland.
The crowd booed Hinkle when her name was announced at the start of the game.
That, along with being called a homophobe, hasn’t rattled Hinkle’s faith. She said, “If I never get a national team call-up again, that’s just part of his plan and that’s ok. And maybe this was why you were meant to play soccer. Just to show other believers to be obedient.”
Hinkle is right. She has shown us how to be obedient. Thousands of Christian parents have their kids in sports leagues, some of which are highly competitive and require a lot of travel. It’s easy for parents to toss conviction and principle to the side in the pursuit of the all-important scholarship, reminding themselves that sports builds character so it’s all worth it.
But sports does not build character.
It reveals it.
Somewhere in her development as a woman and a player, Hinkle was taught more than simply how to take a corner kick. She was taught that a faith that is always kept quiet is a dead faith (James 2:14-19). She was taught to follow the example of three Hebrew children who lived a few thousand years before her and refused to bow with the masses to a 90-foot idol. Today’s 90-foot idol that has everyone bowing is a giant rainbow. Jaelene Hinkle is standing firm and in doing so she’s showing others a good example of true womanhood.
My sons play soccer. I’m always pointing out characteristics of professional soccer players that they can emulate. We marvel at Leo Messi’s footwork. They dream of being able to run and do bicycle kicks like Gareth Bale. And now, they’ll also look to Jaelene Hinkle who stood for what she believed in without resorting to name-calling and hatred like so many in our culture do today.
It’s good for parents to teach their children how to compete.
It’s even better for parents to teach their children how to stand on principle, even when it costs them their dream.
Thank you, Jaelene, for graciously showing us what that looks like.