I recently introduced my youngest two children to the Lord of the Rings movies. It was a lot of fun getting to share the experience with them. Like having them see all the battles between good and evil, and teaching them that evil really does look nasty. And even having the movie expose them to the harsh realities of war, like the fact that poor farm boys who looked like they were only 10 years old were being asked to fight in these awful battles.
However, watching the series after all these years, what struck me the most was how incredibly faithful Frodo’s friend Sam was. The movie showed that Frodo was the one who had been given the most important task, and yet it is obvious that he never would have made it without Sam. And while the movie highlights a great friendship, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to my marriage. I started wondering what my marriage would look like if I was a little bit more like Sam.
We see Sam’s loyalty first when he freaks out when he is unable find Frodo in a cornfield. He yells for Frodo and when Frodo comes back by him, Sam says, “Gandalf told me, ‘Now, don’t you lose him, Sam.’ And I don’t intend to.”
Another similar instance is at the end of the first movie, when Frodo tries to take off alone in a boat, and Sam runs into the water to go after him, knowing full well that he cannot swim and will likely drown. He was willing to give up his life in order to keep his promise. When Frodo pulls him into the boat, Sam says to him, “I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. ‘Don’t you lose him, Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to.”
Sam knew he had made a promise to someone of great authority, and he was willing to do whatever it took to keep his promise.
How often do I remind myself that I made a promise, to the Ultimate Authority? And am I willing to do whatever it takes to keep that promise?
Throughout the movies, Sam often saves Frodo’s life. He even throws himself in front of a raith (a nasty dragon-like creature), tackling Frodo so that the ring will not be captured. Afterward, in a fit of rage from the ring’s evil influence, Frodo attacks Sam and is ready to kill him with his sword. And Sam simply says, “It’s me. It’s your Sam, Mr. Frodo. Don’t you know your Sam?”
During fights with my spouse when things get heated and he says something that hurts me, do I lash back and retaliate? What if instead I stepped back and reminded myself of who the real enemy is, and that he wants nothing more than to watch us destroy each other? What if I reminded myself that even though he might be wrong in that moment, he is still my husband and I know well enough that I need forgiveness as often as he does?
Another thing I noticed, is that Sam also encourages Frodo often throughout the movies. He knew that Frodo was being burdened by the enormous task he had been given, and that the burden was taking its toll on his friend. At one point, Frodo asks Sam, “What are we holding onto Sam?” And Sam responds, “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it is worth fighting for.”
Sam knew he was fighting for the good of all of middle earth. He knew that if they failed the world he knew would cease to exist. He knew how important it was that they succeed in their mission. And He knew the painful consequences of failure. Sam knew what he was fighting for.
In my marriage, I would do well to remember that I am fighting for the good of the future world.
Study after study shows that kids do best raised in a two-parent home. Study after study shows the painful consequences of divorce and single parenting. My children are counting on me. They are watching my example of how to love unconditionally, how to work through conflict, and how to stick it out even when times get tough.
How much more committed would I be to my marriage if I kept in mind that my marriage really does affect future generations?
Towards the very end of the movies Frodo is so weak that Sam cries out, “Come, Mr. Frodo, I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” And he proceeds to carry Frodo up the hill.
What kind of a marriage would I have if I were willing to carry my spouse when he has fallen under the load life has burdened him with rather than just getting frustrated by it all?
Oh, how I want to be willing to do whatever it takes to see my marriage succeed, even if that means giving up some things. I want to be willing to stand by my man’s side and forgive him even after he has hurt me, remembering that I often need forgiveness for hurting him as well. I want to remind myself every day that I made a promise.
And I want to intentionally keep that promise no matter what. Because I know that there is good in this world. There is good in my marriage.
And even on the bad days, it is worth fighting for.