Monday, May 19, 2014

LOTR A-ha Moment

{Photo from here}
It’s high time I wrote another Lord of the Rings post (Groans from readers everywhere).  I can’t help it – I admit I have a problem.  I’m addicted to LOTR.

I’ve been watching a lot of movies recently, and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have not been left out.

Every time I’ve viewed the epic LOTR trilogy, and also now since I’ve read the books, the ending of the story bothered me, or, I guess, it left me pondering and questioning.

Through the whole tale, Frodo’s and the Fellowship have been working toward destroying the Ring of Power.  We’re rooting for Frodo every step of the way.  He gets to the end and --- what?  He seems to fail.  Frodo can’t throw the ring into the fires of Mount Doom.

Gollum and Frodo battle it out on the cliff, perilously coming close to their own deaths.  Gollum gets the Ring, but, alas, he falls into the lava and is consumed.  In the end, the deed is done – just not how anyone expected or, if they think about it, wanted.

I don’t know about you, but I wanted Frodo to overcome his weaknesses, defeat the Gollum creature, and triumphantly cast off the burden into the flames.  I wanted Frodo to march up to that cliff, tare the ring off his neck, give a great heave, and throw away the wretched thing.

But he can’t get rid of the ring by his own will power.  It gets the better of him.  “It’s mine”, Frodo snarls, glaring at Sam.  All seems lost.

This turn of events left me with a funny feeling.  I didn’t like the ending.  I often pondered my own ending that, I assumed, would have been much better than what the novice J.R.R. Tolkien came up with.  He must have just fallen asleep and forgot about the whole story line.

But, I kept thinking.

Just this last time I watched the film, I had an A-ha moment.

Frodo couldn’t complete the mission on his own.  Truth be told, neither can I, neither can you.  No one can do it on his or her own.  We have a weakened will and a clouded intellect.  We can do nothing apart from the grace of God.  If it wasn’t for the grace of God, our world would be shadowed in darkness, just like Middle-Earth would have been if Sa├║ron would have succeeding in obtaining the ring.

As I get older and go through more and more life experiences, I realize that I am less and less in control.  I can’t do anything on my own.  My life, my very existence depends on God.  And God uses people on this earth to help Him help His children along the way.  I need my husband, friends, family, the sacraments, prayer, and many other blessings to succeed in life.  Who except God can take any credit for any good that happens in life?

Sure I could say that I, me myself and I, ran a marathon and achieved that goal all by myself.  But I really didn’t.  So many things had to happen in order for it to come together.  First, I had to be blessed with good health.  And, if Craig hadn’t encouraged me throughout the training, I wouldn’t have done it.  There’s no way I could say I ran that marathon all by myself.

Going through depression helped me realize just how helpless I really am.  I had no control over this disease that made itself at home in my brain.  I tried and tried to “get over it” on my own, but I only made things worse.  If I didn’t have the right people in my life, if I didn’t have the right doctors, if I didn’t have the grace of healing, I would either be dead or a homeless alcoholic or a drug addict.

All the time, things happen in which we have no control.  Natural disasters, illnesses, tragedies, etc.  You can try your best to take care of yourself.  Yet, how can anyone feel completely “in control” of their own life?

You can either choose to live your life in constant fear and anxiety about what may happen, or you can hand your life over to God and ask Him to take care of you.

God tells us that we must become like little children so we can throw tantrums and wear diapers…  No.  He says we must become like little children by imitating their dependence on their parents.  God wants us to depend on Him for everything and have simple, childlike faith that He will.

Back to LOTR, Frodo tried his best to complete his task, yet couldn’t do it on his own.  Of course, Sam was there to help Frodo every step of the way.  You could think of Sam as more than just a good friend.  He is how grace works in our lives.  When we can’t do it on our own, God’s grace is available to help us through the trial.

This might be a stretch, but, in a backward way, Gollum also helped destroy the ring.  He was a seemingly evil nuisance throughout the story who could have been killed for his evils way, yet he was left to live.  A greater good came out of his evil.  Gollum was permitted to stick around because, as it ended up, he had some part to play.  He wrestled the ring from Frodo, but, as a result, he fell into the fire.

Often times, we can get angry at God for allowing evil to happen in our lives, just as Frodo complained to Gandalf about Gollum in the mines of Moria.  But we don’t know the big picture.  We can’t see what purpose it might have in the long run.  God only allows evil to happen because He knows a greater good will come from it.

Frodo might have been thankful for Gollum in the end because Gollum, in a sense, helped Frodo destroy the ring.

Sometimes, we might never see the good that comes from evil.  But we can be comforted by the fact that God knows what He’s doing.

I didn’t understand my depression in the beginning.  But now, I am grateful that I went through the experience.  God has brought about so much good from the pain and suffering.
Hopefully, I can take this lesson with me throughout the many more trials and tribulations that will happen in my life.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mary,
    Your entries have meant so much to me I thought I’d write something for you. Feel free can share with your readers if you’d like to.


    I am young woman suffering from depression. I also happen to be an artist and Catholic.

    Depression if it is mild or moderate feels like an earthly experience of purgatory. And if it severe it is like experiencing the first levels of hell.
    People often romanticize illnesses like cancer, but it is hard to tell a story about depression, because it is depressing by default. The only way to tell story about depression that isn’t soul crushing is by inserting humor and God. Sometimes humor is the best a person can do, but I am so very grateful for God.
    Now that the pain of my illness is moderate, mostly thanks to meds, I can go about my day without constantly thinking about my moods and saying, “oh my goodness, how can I possible live another day like this?” Now I can say to myself, “It may or may not pass, but it can- oooh look a squirrel!”
    It’s hard to describe what I’m going through to people that have never felt this. It is like a demon ran away with my soul or at least part of it, and the ever pressing weight that I may never feel like myself again. And then of course there is the fatigue, pain in my lower arms and head. That isn’t pleasant either.
    Then there is God, who can make darkness into light. The wallpaper on my work computer displays this prayer that I read every morning and every time I begin to get scared that this will never go away.

    “I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”

    - John Henry Cardinal Newman

    I wish the stigma of mental illness wasn’t so rampant. I think people like to believe that they are in full control of their minds, and so they mentally outcast those who are not, because nothing is more terrifying than your mind running away from you… indefinitely. That’s where all the well-meaning sugary mantras come from. “Just try harder”, “Just pray harder”, “Just take up sports”, “Just count your blessings”, etc. If you only try hard enough, you can do anything! Only God can to anything, well all good anythings, but we want to believe that we are gods and that we have control. If illnesses teach you anything it is that you are not God and not in control.
    I am an incredibly gifted artist. Drawing comes naturally to me. I can be having a crap day and still illustrate a children’s book that gets translated into four languages. If I were to ask my mom to make a copy of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa it wouldn’t be very good. If I told her to try a harder it might be a little better but not much. Maybe with years and years of training she could become as good as me, but probably not. She’d need a miracle. Luckily, her earthly wellness and happiness don’t depend on her drawings skills. But the healing of my mind does. I do need a miracle of sorts. God might work through the right doctors or people or food or pixie dust, but I know that if I ever wake up excited for the day and with a respectable level of confidence, it will be an act of the Almighty. I have fought tooth and nail to not be depressed, and although I am better I am not healed. But because there is a God I know that it is possible, and so there is hope, and if there is hope, well all is not yet lost.

    Much love, your sister in Christ,