I don't like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I don't like any fantasy for that matter, with the exception of the X-Men, which hold a special place in my heart. I know, it's silly. Just don't come running after me with pitchforks. I promise this is going somewhere.
I have been a good wife and seen the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, one by one, in the theater. The first one was all fine and good. I got the story line, and the characters were laid out. I could follow it just fine. But after seeing the second one, I felt like I just couldn't take it. All that death and destruction, all those names and places that sound the same but must be pronounced with great earnest--blah blah MORDOR, blah blah LEGOLAS (really? Lego-lass?), HOBBITS, blah blah. Am I right? Almost three hours of darkness and fighting with no resolution, and then it just ends.
What the heck?
What I didn't know, and what I had to wait a year to find out, was that the good guys really do win. The fighting wasn't for nothing. I have really no recollection of what actually happens, but I was so very glad to find out that The Two Towers wasn't for naught. It was a necessary part of the story arc, and without it, the heroes would not be proven heroes, and the villains would not be vanquished. It was necessary, even if I didn't like it.
But what if I had walked in during the middle of The Two Towers, without having seen The Fellowship of the Ring, or even the groovy '70s animated version of The Hobbit (which my husband has memorized, by the way. He had the record.)? What if I never saw any resolution in The Return of the King? I would have felt completely gypped.
We are living our own versions of The Two Towers here on earth. We are plunked down, smack dab in the middle of an unfair story, and sometimes it doesn't make any sense at all.
Why did my friend Katie Renz have to battle with cancer for nearly a year and pass away yesterday morning, leaving a loving husband and three young sons?
Why did my husband's business partner of eight years and friend of eleven have a heart attack and die suddenly two months ago, leaving behind a beautiful wife and six kids?
Did I mention that Katie was 40 and Britt was 47?
I just don't know why.
I try my hardest not to ask why. It's a moot question.
A better question is, "What am I supposed to learn?" or even "How am I supposed to grow?", because I do know some things for sure.
Life here on earth is the second act in a three-act play. We can't remember the first act, before we came to earth, but I believe we lived with God. We are His children, and before we came here, we were spirits, anxiously waiting to come to earth to get bodies, so we could gain experience, choose for ourselves, and one day return to live with God again. I believe we agreed to a few things, even though we understood they would be difficult. We just didn't know how difficult.
Now here we are in that second act, having forgotten the first. Another kicker is that we haven't seen the third. We know that our loved ones have, who have gone before us. We may catch glimpses of the other side for ourselves or from others' experiences, but largely, we must rely on faith that everything will turn out okay.
Boy, that's hard.
My dad used to walk into the family room when we were watching TV and ask "So, did the good guys win yet?" Well, Dad, some of them have, but some of them haven't. Not yet. But I have faith that they will.
I have to have faith that they will. God is in charge of that third act. He has it all under control, whether we see it yet or not, and we are right in the very middle of our own hero quests. I have so much more in my heart that is difficult to express, but I feel it very deeply, and it brings me so much peace, even amidst the sadness.
God loves us and wants us to have joy. I know He will give us beauty for ashes and everything will work out for our good. Everything.
I hope and pray Katie's and Britt's families can find the peace they need to carry them through. My heart is still breaking for them.
I still don't like The Lord of the Rings, but I can appreciate it even more now. (Especially when someone with far too much time on their hands makes something like this. I laughed so hard, I cried.)
Additional reading: The Songs They Could Not Sing
To help the Renz family, check things out here.
And I'll end with a great song: