Three Ways to be a Champion for Someone You Love
Have I Shown You Lately that I Love You?
Let's talk about helping move your relationships toward more wholeness, connection, and thriving.
I'm assuming you might have people in your life that you love and who love you. Yet, if you're anything like me, sometimes you can get on autopilot and forget to be intentional about showing your love to them.
So I want to help you by offering three simple ways that you can show love to someone in your life by being a champion for them.
But first, I need to explain what a "champion" is. Where that word/idea came from.
But in order to do that, first I need to talk about basketball and medieval judicial practices.
The Ball Never Lies
In the game of basketball there is a special phrase that is uttered (or, if you're NBA All Star Rasheed Wallace, shouted out for the entire arena to hear) if you get called for a foul and you think the call is bogus. Here's how it works:
the ref calls a foul on you but you disagree; the other player goes to the foul line to shoot a free throw; if the player misses that free throw shot, you feel justified in your disagreement with the foul call; you then get to say the magic words, "the ball never lies!"
In other words, because the ball refused to go through the hoop, that stands to show that you indeed did NOT foul your opponent. The inanimate object (basketball) therefore becomes the judge and jury declaring you innocent of any wrong doing. Vindicating you in front of the ref who made the bad call.
In Europe during the Middle Ages there was a similar concept to “the ball never lies.” It was called judicium dei, a latin phrase meaning, “the judgment of God.” This particular phrase was used in contexts to declare that whatever the outcome ofa particular trial, that outcome became the verdict and was thereby declared to be the judicium dei.
Aka, God has spoke on the matter and declared a judgment, a verdict.
For example, in a Trial by Ordeal an accused person would undergo an extraneous ordeal and the outcome would thereby be their verdict. Such as, if someone was accused of stealing or adultery or some sort of heresy they might have to snatch a stone from a pot of boiling water or walk across burning hot plowshares. If their skin didn’t burn, or even if their recovery was quick enough, then they were declared innocent. However if the injuries sustained, or if the person died as a result of the Trial by Ordeal, then that was evidence that they must therefore truly have been guilty.
In other words, “Ball don’t lie.”
Trial by Combat: Aka, the Tyrion Lannister
Another area where Judicium Dei was issued was for “Trial by Combat.” You know, that seeming loop hole granted by the law that Lord Tyrion appealed to, twice!
The idea is simple (if not superstitiously barbaric). Should there be a dispute between two parties that cannot be proven otherwise, they could invoke a Trial by Combat where the winner of the duel would be declared “in the right.”
And by virtue of judicium dei, the “judgment of God,” the winner would be declared not guilty.
That's right. People could get in an argument--such as accusing a person of stealing from them--but because there was no witnesses to the event they might invoke Trial by Combat, wherein the winner of the fight would be viewed as having been backed by God, therefore demonstrating that they were in the right regarding the conflict.
Now, within the rules of Trial by Combat if you could not fight—for whatever reason—you could name someone else to fight on your behalf (again, consider Tyrion Lannister). And it was from this world of fighting on another’s behalf, of engaging the battle for the sake of another via a Trial by Combat, where we get the word “champion” from.
A champion was, in short, someone who entered the battle field with the purpose of fighting for the gain of another. Someone who steps up to ensure that another person's well being is cared for, nurtured, protected.
I believe one of the ways we embody love in our relationships is by being our loved ones champion. By identifying ways in which we can fight for their thriving.
So here are three ways you can become a champion for the people you love.
First and foremost, are you seeing the people that you love?
Not just, can you use your eyeballs to ensure that they are in your vision. But to truly see someone is to know who they are, know that they have interests and desires and dreams, you know their likes and dislikes, you know what energizes them and what drains them. You know who they are and where they came from.
It takes effort and intention to truly see your loved ones. You have to ask questions and listen and remember. It means putting down your energy in trying to get people to see you, and instead focusing on how you can see them.
So how can you take a moment today or this week to show someone in your life that you really see them?
Perhaps you pass on an article that you read and it made you think of them because you know that they would like it, too. Perhaps you send a loved one a random text to tell them how proud you are of them, letting them know that you see them and the work they do. Or maybe it's as simple as asking them a question, "tell me what really gets you excited these days? Where are you finding life?"
Part of being a champion for people is to show them that you see them.
Believe in Them
Second, be their champion by believing in them.
When you believe in someone you express to them a confidence, a trust, that they can do and be whatever it might be at the moment that they cannot do or be. It starts by seeing them, who they are right now, and then it moves to believing who they could become. Who it is they want to be.
My friend Melissa wrote a blog post once about what she calls the “Yet Rule.” In their house, they have a rule: just add the word “yet” to the end of your sentences.
So instead of, “I can’t do this,” it’s, “I can’t do this yet.” Or, “I’m just not good at math,” it’s, “I’m not good at math yet.”
One posture speaks to the end of the story, while the other is merely the beginning.
For the people close to you, how can you show them that you believe in them in all their “yetness?” To be a champion is to believe in them, that they have what it takes, that they can do the hard thing.
Maybe today you call your sister who's trying to quit smoking and you tell how much you believe in her, that she can do it. Or perhaps your roommate is shooting for a promotion, be their champion and tell them how much you believe they can do it. Is your girlfriend launching a new career? Your husband writing a screenplay? They need you to be their champion, be someone who truly believes in them.
Finally, the third way to be your loved one's champion after you see them and express your belief in them is to support them. To actually put your energies, your resources, your intention to helping them accomplish their goal or become who they want to become.
To support them is essentially putting your money where your mouth is. You say you believe in them, that they can get that promotion or go back to school to get a degree or quit smoking or stay in therapy… but now what are you going to do to help them get there?
Like all things, this requires open communication and honesty. Because you can always run the risk of just trying to “fix” things or people. Or you might do something that you think is “supportive,” but actually ends up coming across as controlling and manipulative.
So try saying, “I see that this is important to you, and I absolutely believe in you.. no how I can I support you in this?”
In many relationships (often times unhealthy ones) this is a one-way street. One of the partners is the “support” while the other one chases their dream. And my point is not to dismiss that dynamic or shame anyone, because there is a season and time for everything. But unless you want resentment to build up, at some point that river has got to start flowing the other way.
When I was trying to write my book last year I had a lot of people in my life that graciously and actively supported me, knowing the challenge of finding time and energy to sit and write. Some people gave me time at their timeshare to get away and write. Others let me come to their house and use their space to write. Others just gave me money so that I could Air BNB a little condo by the beach and focus on nothing but the words on the page.
These were champions for me. People who not only saw me and believed in me, but also took it one step further and supported me in reaching my goals.
Don't Leave it to a Ball or a Trial
Whether it’s a basketball ricocheting off a rim, or a foot passing unscathed over burning coals, we are susceptible to believing that whatever happens--whatever fate decides--must therefore be the judgement or the will of God.
We might inadvertently bring this mentality in to our relationships, leading us to live in such a way that says, “your life is your life… whatever it will be will be,” and we could miss out on the blessing of being a champion.
Sometimes we believe the lie, "what difference can I make?"
I want you to know that you can make all the difference by being a champion for those that you love.
Don’t leave it up to the unseen powers-that-be to speak a word of encouragement and belief in to your loved ones. Don’t just assume that someone else will do it. Don’t get caught up in thinking they don’t need or want your support.
If you want to see the relationships in your life move toward greater health and wholeness, then consider becoming their champion today.
See. Believe. Support.