What Gandalf Meant When He Said That Thing To Frodo

Or, I Wish This <<insert situation here>> Had Never Happened To Me!

I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, both the books and the movies. I won’t go into the details of the story here, but I will highlight one little scene from the story that might relate to all of us at one time or another.

I invite you to picture the scene: The heroes take a moment to find their bearings, after weaving their way through the dark caves of Moria, through dwarvish mines that delve deep into the heart of the mountains. Their wizard guide, Gandalf the Grey, sits on a rock quietly talking with Frodo, our brave hero.

Frodo is the kind of guy we all imagine ourselves to be sometimes: not apparently cut out for the task at hand but having it thrust upon us anyway. It’s something that has to be done and we’re the one to do it. Only in Frodo’s case the fate of the whole world rests in his hands.

My dear Frodo, Hobbits really are amazing creatures. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month and yet, after a hundred years, they can still surprise you.
— Gandalf

So there they are seated in a cave, lost, waiting for Gandalf to remember the way forward. Frodo and he have a little heart-to-heart.

Poor old Frodo is carrying this heavy burden, a ring of immense power, and it's weighing him down. Evil follows him and threatens to bring him down. He has already been dealt a blow that almost killed him — a horrible injury to his shoulder. It will never be fully healed. But he must continue on to finish his destined path. Their conversation goes like this:

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

Sometimes, in the great scheme of things, we can think to ourselves how much we really don’t want our current situation. In the case of many of my clients it is the injury — the ongoing pain, just like Frodo. In my case, it's often that way. Recurring back pain, plantar fasciitis, or some other thing creeps in and we just want to give up.

It could be us right there in Frodo’s place, saying those words …

“I wish the back pain/shoulder reconstruction/arthritis had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened …”

Hope

Did you notice Gandalf’s message to Frodo? He neither dismissed Frodo’s words nor let them rule Frodo’s life. Instead, he turned the situation around. In the midst of despair, there can be hope. In the place of frustration, perhaps we’re able to satisfy ourselves that perhaps we were, somehow, almost meant to have this situation.

That’s not an encouraging thought, really. But perhaps, in some small or large way, the fact that we have this injury or condition or situation is proof that this is simply an opportunity for growth. While we can’t change the situation, we can change the decisions we make about it. We can decide to let it keep us down or we can decide, once again, to pick ourselves back up and move forward.

Maybe, somewhere, there was a determining factor. Maybe you are the one person who can handle this injury. Perhaps you are the one person who can make a difference simply by continuing to fight. Maybe you can do more than you realise. Or maybe you are the one person who, after it’s all done and you’re flat on your back, depleted, exhausted and unable to move, maybe, just maybe, you’re the one person who will learn this lesson and help to stop others from falling into the same trap.

And maybe that, as Gandalf said, is an encouraging thought.

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