If anyone knows our family, they know we are huge fans of the Lord of the Rings! I remember as a young boy listening to my Dad read the trilogy to me and my brothers as we laid in our beds. Dad would put all his emotions into it as he would get excited with us, laugh with us, be sad with us, and, yes, cry with us. You can imagine our joy when we heard the news that they were making the movies! Needless to say, we loved them as well!
There is one scene in The Two Towers (that wasn’t in the book, but we’ve since forgiven Peter Jackson!) that I have been pondering about a lot lately. In the city Osgiliath, Frodo hits a breaking point when his burden as a ringbearer seems too much to handle and all hope seems lost. He is about to give himself up to temptation and be captured when Samwise the Brave comes to rescue him. Sam then delivers one of the most epic speeches about overcoming adversity and fighting for what’s right.
As I have watched and rewatched this scene, I ask myself, “How many times do I feel like Frodo here?” And I ask you, how often do you feel helpless, alone, and without hope? We often hit similar breaking points where our load seems too heavy to bear. In these “Frodo” moments, we ask ourselves the same questions in Sam’s speech. These moments are the shadows and the darkness he spoke about. Even Joseph Smith had Frodo moments in the Sacred Grove and in Liberty Jail when he cried out, “Oh God, where art thou?” (D&C 121:1.)
To those who feel, or have felt, this way before, I empathize with you. I too have come to up against the wall that seems impossible to get over and move on. I have longed for a “Sam” to come rescue me and tell me everything is going to be alright. I’m here to tell you that God will come! He is our Sam in the story. He reminds us that “even darkness must pass. A new day will come! And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer!” God reminds us of our purpose and “what [we’re] holding on to.” (See Joseph Smith-History 1:16-17 and D&C 121:7-10 for God’s response to Joseph’s Frodo moments.)
I want to share a story of one my own Frodo moments. A little over a year ago I was going through a really hard time. I had just lost the girl I loved, I was struggling with finding a major at school, work was wearing me down, and it just seemed like anything I desired was always out of reach. I felt helpless, abandoned, and hopeless. I’m sure I wearied my Heavenly Father with my endless prayers of gloom and sadness. My Sam in this story came in the form of a poem that I wrote. It brought peace and hope to my life as I was able to put my thoughts into words. It inspired me to keep going:
In the same place
In the same place night after night,
My corner chair that fits just right,
I examine my considered plight,
Which has become my endless fight.
In the same place I try to see,
While Pandora sings soothingly
To my troubled and longing heart,
The pathway that I now should start.
In the same place when all retire,
I earnestly search for the fire
That drives, that pushes, and inspires,
To achieve heart’s deepest desire.
In the same place night after night,
Past memories dance into my sight.
I muse, I smile, and seldom cry,
But often time think, “why, oh why?”
In the same place through thick and thin,
I overcome the pain within.
Arise, go forth, begin to mend!
Surprises will come around the bend.
As I wrote this, I could feel the Lord’s love surround me. I was not alone, help was given, and hope restored. God is ever aware of lives and what we are passing through in this very moment. He loves us! We may feel like Frodo in our own personal Mt. Doom hanging on for dear life. The Lord, just as Sam did, reaches out to us when we are about to give up and says, “Don’t you let go!” I want you to know that your shadow IS only a passing thing, and surprises do come around the bend! I echo the words that King David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 28:20.)
The Lord will not give up on you, so you shouldn’t give up on yourself! Look for the “Sams” in your life; I know you’ll find them. God answers our prayers in a variety of ways, often time through other people. May we also strive to be Sam in the lives of others.
I recommend these videos that helped me in times of need. They also touch on this topic:
The words from “Does the Journey Seem Long” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imd4fIjNx7s
“Good Things to Come” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nczw6xHJ0I
Kev, your thoughts remind me of LDS Hymn 168, “As the Shadows Fall” (see http://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/as-the-shadows-fall?lang=eng.) Not well known, in or out of the Church of Jesus Christ, but I’ve always thought of it as an anthem for fighting against the shadows and struggles of the Last Days: “Father, please watch o’er our loved ones / As the evening round them flows…” It, too, has brought me comfort as our far-flung kids and spouses surmount the trials that come their way. Like the ones you have experienced… and conquered.