A few months ago a friend was dealing with a difficult situation. I won’t go into detail because it’s her situation, not mine (sorry not sorry, you nosey people!). It was one of those moments where I asked her how she was, and she just burst into tears like she couldn’t hold it all in one more moment. She explained the situation, and then talked about how in the midst of it everyone and their mom (my exaggeration, not hers) had an opinion about it. Isn’t that the way it goes? Everyone always has an opinion. And sometimes those opinions are less than helpful.
All she really needed was someone to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and probably a big glass of red wine. And a cheese plate. We always need a cheese plate.
A few days later, I texted her just to tell her I was praying for her, and added at the end: #imwith___ (insert friend’s name here. Anonymity is my specialty, ok?) Yes, this was inspired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan. Don’t freak out.
Since then, I have loved this idea. No matter the situation, no matter what someone is going through, that is what I want them to know above all else. I’m with you.
Last spring, I got a chance to do a little TED style talk for some of our female students, alongside a few of my delightful coworkers. I decided to talk about the idea of “championing each other.”
It all centered around this quote from Ann Voskamp:
“Girls rival each other – Women REVIVE each other.
Girls empale each other – Women EMPOWER each other.
Girls compare each other – Women CHAMPION each other.”
RIGHT? So good. I don’t know why it takes us so many years to even be taught this kind of idea. What if we told middle school girls this? What if we became champions of one another at a younger age?
I clearly didn’t learn this for a long time. It has only recently clicked in my brain that we don’t live in a zero-sum world. Someone else having beauty, success, talent, whatever – does not mean there is less for me. Not in God’s economy. Kingdom resources are abundant, eternal; they never run out.
This isn’t just for women. I am sure men need this too. Whatever it is that each of us longs for – there isn’t less of it for us just because someone else has found it. I don’t pretend to know a lot about what goes on inside a man’s brain – but I know this: we all live in a world where we are scared into competition by a scarcity mentality. It is the lie of the enemy – did God really say? Did He really say you are enough and always will be enough?
It is really easy to get down about life; things are hard and life is messy. But if we all embrace this #imwithyou way of living (regardless of your political opinions, thankyouverymuch), we would all be in a better place.
This was what Jesus came to say: I am with you. (Wait, He actually said that.) In Matthew 28, my favorite part of any story ever (the resurrection!!) Jesus tells his people: Surely, I am with you always. It is what He came to say with His life, death, and resurrection, that He is with us. He is on our team (we are on His, really). He came to save us from ourselves, and redeem us to each other.
A friend recently posted this quote and I loved it:
“Make it a rule…never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say ‘I have made one human being at least a little wiser, a little happier or a little better this day.'”
The way I see it, we can live selfish lives focused solely on pushing our own way to the top of the ladder, or we can make encouraging and championing others an important practice. Sheryl Sandberg says: “careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” I kind of think all of life is maybe more of a jungle gym than a ladder. It is a messy, confusing path we are all walking on and we are all more successful when we help each other out.
So friends, let’s make this practical. Three ways to champion:
Some of the best moments for me have been when people simply show up. Especially when they show up with Starbucks and a donut. But their simple presence works too.
Who can you show up for this week?
Listen and ask questions.
Like my friend said, everyone has an opinion. And like it or not, your opinion is not always the one that will change someone’s life or be the answer they have been searching for but somehow totally couldn’t find until you showed up! Sometimes people will ask for your opinion, and it is great to share it. But I have found it is more helpful to just keep asking questions – people usually know deep down what they want/what is right, we just have to help each other get there.
What kind of questions could you ask instead of offering opinions?
We have to remind one another of our truths. And the absolute truths are these: You are loved. You are chosen. You are worthy.
This is our duty, as champions of one another, as “I’m with you” kind of friends, to remind each other who we are. We all need truth-tellers in our lives, designated to speak it when we cannot believe it for ourselves. Ann Voskamp writes that we need to be a “re-membering people.” We need to be people who re-member, who put each other back together. And we do this by reminding ourselves and each other the truths about who we are.
Who are the people who speak truth into your life?
I am passionate about this idea because in the past decade of my life I have seen the incomparable value of having these people in my circle. This is not a New Year’s Resolution, it is a Life Resolution. To be a champion of the people around me.
Some of the highlights of my life have been the chances to come alongside friends in their brightest and bravest moments, and it is always a humbling honor to walk beside them in the hard and heartbreaking as well. Because we all know this: life is always good and always hard, and we always need each other.