I cannot watch this scene from The Two Towers without crying. It has become my inspiration and motivation as I prepare for Greece. Saying that, I immediately feel dumb, because who am I to compare my decision with the epic quest of Frodo and Sam? But perhaps my feelings of insignificance are exactly what qualify me as a hobbit.
There are, undoubtedly, many things that excite me about moving to Greece. I have always wanted to live overseas for at least a year, and I am delighted to revisit Athens. I am overwhelmed by how perfectly this opportunity coincides with my graduation, my newly acquired counseling skills, and my growing passion for working with oppressed women. So much of this opportunity feels perfectly designed for me, so much so that I can only believe that God is the one who orchestrated it.
But there are a lot of other things that worry me. I mourn the loss of friends in Dallas, and the growing distance I’ve chosen to put between myself and all my friends in the States. I worry about making new friends and creating a new family of support and enjoyment. I am afraid that I am stepping into something too big for me, that I will not be able to help carry the weight of sex trafficking alongside the women I will work with. And honestly, I fear being hurt myself. I cannot study trafficking and rape and abuse without worrying that one of these with happen to me. Even mentioning that feels scary to me, as my deepest fears are bound up here. The superstitious part of my brain worries that just mentioning it will make it happen.
But then I listen to Sam’s speech.
Sam: It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.
I mentioned this scene to a friend who also loves The Lord of the Rings, and surprisingly she disagreed. “You know there’s not really any good in this world, Tricia.” I knew what she meant, so I gave her the answer she wanted. “Yeah, sure, Jesus is the only good thing.”
I love and respect my friend, but I think she was wrong. God is good, and all of his gifts to us are good as well. In grace He made a beautiful world, and although it is now twisted and broken, full of evil and sin, I believe there is still good in it. God’s grace is bigger than our sin.
So although I could turn back and decide not to go to Greece, I won’t. I will continue despite my fears, because I’m holding on to the hope that there is still some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for. I am going to Athens in the hope that the women I work with will experience unconditional love, that they will find healing and peace and meaning. I am going to Athens because trafficking and abuse is an evil so overwhelming that it can threaten to flood our vision with darkness. I keep moving forward because I trust that the growth and joy and maturity that I will gain from this experience will be worth the pain.
I cling to the fact that there are flowers, rainbows, friendships, sunrises, hugs, and laughter in this world. God is so good. Despite sin, despite truly horrifying evil, He continues to give us gifts of good things. There is good in the world, and it is worth fighting for.
Although we have different faiths, we share similar beliefs. I hope you did go to Greece and pursue your career. You would be doing the work of Freyja. But if you didn’t, hopefully things worked out. Happy new year, from 2021.