Why you should fight someone else’s battle (when you’d rather not)

If you’re like me, there are times when you are ‘rearing to go’ when a disagreement comes up.

Someone needs you to stand up for them? Done. Need to make a complaint? Done.

Need to convince the well-meaning shop assistant to check out the back for more stock? Done.

And yet…

why you should fight someone else's battle #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #spoonie #faith #God #Hope

… Some days the last thing you want to do is rub against the grain. Instead you want to take the back seat, keep your head down and maintain the peace. You’d rather deal with the consequences later rather than speak up in the moment. 

There’s nothing wrong with this – except in the context of chronic illness sometimes the consequences aren’t ours to absorb.

As Watchers, caregivers and loving friends, sometimes we are called to fight our Loved One’s battles, not our own. When we give up, they are the ones who suffer for it.

So what do we do?

What do I mean by  ‘battles’?

In the context of this blog post, ‘battles’ are those occasions in life where you are required to disagree with someone in order to achieve your goal.

For a Watcher, in an environment of chronic illness, this can look like ringing up to try and get medical supplies delivered earlier than expected.

It can mean rather firmly reinforcing what your Loved One is trying to tell the doctor so that no mistake is made.

It can even be changing the direction of a conversation, or putting a complaint in at a food shop if the server didn’t wear gloves.

All of these situations can be uncomfortable and awkward. They can also be very important and worthwhile.

4 reasons we often don’t bother fighting someone else’s battles

Fighting a battle on someone else’s behalf is not always pleasant. In fact, it can:

1: Make us feel (and look) silly or petty.

Often the battles we are asked to fight for our loved one are small. They can sometimes look quite ridiculous to the rest of the world. I mean, who cares whether someone washes their hands or not? Does it matter whether you’re in the appointment slot before or after lunch?

2: Make our loved one look fussy, picky or weak

Again it’s all about appearance. The fact that our loved one needs these ‘insignificant’ battles fought can result in other people viewing them in a negative light, or getting the wrong impression.

3: We think we’ll lose

No one likes to be on a losing side. Sometimes the reality that we will most likely fail in our battle is enough to make us loath to fight it. It seems pointless, an entirely thankless task.

4: We didn’t realise there was a battle to fight because we weren’t engaged

Often the easiest way to sail through life is not to get too deeply involved in “other people’s problems”. This is something we can easily do as a Watcher as well! Instead of listening to our Loved One’s (perhaps unspoken) cries for care and justice, we can simply (and conveniently) not hear them.

why you should fight someone else's battle #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #spoonie #faith #God #Hope why you should fight someone else's battle #chronicillness #suffering #loneliness #caregiver #pain #caregiving #spoonie #faith #God #Hope

Why should you fight your loved ones battles (when you don’t feel like it)?

So with all these (valid) reasons for not fighting a battle for our loved one – why should we bother?

ONE: It’s the way of love.

Love is caring for someone else’s happiness above our own.

To be as solicitous of their desires as we are of our own. Part of this is fighting for them, even if it’s hard, even if we fail and even if it means we have to enter into their frustrations and pain.

TWO: It’s good for us

Did you notice something? The reasons we do not fight are all about ourselves and our own happiness.

We are afraid of what other people will think of us, of whether we will get the pleasure of victory. Fighting someone else’s battle is a way to practice selflessness and refine our character.

THREE: God calls us to

The Bible is full of references to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. To fight for those who do not or cannot have a voice.

History is littered with people who chose to take up the cause of others less fortunate than themselves. Florence Nightingale, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr. – I could go on.

Of course, most of us will never join their ranks or renown, but we can still rest in this:

“In fighting for Good you are doing a good thing in the eyes of God.”

How to fight someone else’s battles

Last, but not least, let’s get practical. How do you fight for someone else – especially when it’s the last thing you want to do?

  • Remember the objective: it’s not about winning at all costs or bringing yourself glory. It’s about loving your sick friend.
  • Remember to love. Sometimes it’s better to lose, perhaps, if the alternative is utterly destroying someone else with your words.
  • Remember you’re not a lone agent. You are not called to fight alone. Fight with your Loved One, with Jesus and with others. Ie. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

A last note:

Firstly, I am planning a follow up post to this one. Still, if you have questions, I’d love to hear them!

Secondly, I want to acknowledge that it’s never easy to fight someone else’s battles. It’s such a fine line between caring about justice and building up your own ego. It’s a difficult and hard task – and often, if done right, it’s a thankless one.

Still, there is joy in knowing that however hard it is, we do not fight alone. Jesus goes before us. He knows exactly what it’s like to fight on someone else’s behalf. He knows what it’s like to do battle and sacrifice and come out covered in dust only to receive barely a nod of recognition.

When Jesus died on the cross he fought the biggest battle the world has ever seen, the fight against sin. His victory is now ours, so let’s turn to Him.

Watchers, we are not alone.

// Do you ever wish you could turn away instead of championing your Loved One’s cause? What are the reasons you keep fighting?

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Author: Emily J. M.

Hi, I'm Emily. Two of my closest family members struggle with chronic illness, and I watch them. That's hard, and so I write about life as a 'Watcher', what it looks like to support them and find Hope.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you, friend.