They were enjoying their favorite lattes when her friend asked if she were going to the party next weekend. Unaware that a mutual friend had not invited both of them, a cool breeze quickly blew over the cordiality of their conversation leaving an awkward silence fall between them.
Those painful moments when we are not chosen or feel left out are impossible to avoid in this life. Even when there is no intent for harm, wounds come. It is often even harder to know how to respond when it happens by accident and you discover a relationship is not what you thought it had been.
No matter what we may say in the moment, our heart shrinks back a bit not unlike a turtle pulling back into its shell for protection when sensing danger. In that one moment in time, things change and shift, crumbling within us. An explanation may come, but it cannot cancel the moment.
Our mind can be fertile ground for all sorts of imaginings about the person who has wounded us as well as us.
We easily go off on rabbit trails reviewing the relationship, but with the filter of the wound coloring every memory and turning even the sweetest ones sour.
Whatever trust we have had shrinks a bit, but too often it doesn’t happen with just the one person who wounded us. We trust ourselves less as well and wander off the path wondering what we missed and why we missed it.
We tend to be more cautious in all our relationships, more tentative about what we say or share, hesitant about reaching out.
Little by little our world gets smaller and we can be tempted to begin to close ourselves off from others except in the most superficial ways. At its worst, we can distance ourselves from the Lord as well at the time we most needed to run to Him.
A deadly war is going on and like any warrior in such a time, the smoke and din of battle result in our inability to see or hear, to know the direction we are to take or even how we can summon the strength to move.
In the last part of the incredible trilogy of The Lord of the Rings in the Return of the Kings, the movie version gives us a poignant picture that depicts our situation.
Frodo and Sam are near the end of their journey to Mt. Doom to destroy the ring of power that has blanketed the world in darkness. Both lay exhausted on the slopes of the mountain scarred and worn by their travels to this point.
Sam, the ever-faithful friend, seeks to encourage Frodo and to pull his mind and sight from the relentless and frightening image of the ring of fire and “the eye”. He asks Frodo, “Do you remember the shire?”
I love this scene!
Sam is reminding Frodo of his history, his moorings, and the reality that he can no longer see.
That is why we so desperately need not to walk alone, especially when we walk in darkness and exhaustion. We need a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) to remind us of what we have forgotten, to help us to see more clearly.
We must not fall prey to the snare that would tempt us to walk alone where we can be more easily seduced to the power of darkness.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-11, we are admonished again about the dangers of traveling alone.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.” ESV
We are admonished because the Lord knows well our weaknesses and has designed us for fellowship, to be with one another and for one another. We see it when Jesus sends His disciples out two-by-two. He knew the risks and dangers, the warfare they would face.
So in these scenes on the slopes of Mt. Doom, Sam senses his dearest friend has lost sight of everything precious and good, right and true. He begins to tell Frodo about the shire and he asks if he remembers the taste of strawberries.
With what little strength he has left, Frodo tells Sam that he can’t recall the taste of food, the sound of water, or the feel of grass. He says he sees nothing but darkness, the ring of fire, and “the eye” whether his eyes are open or closed.
Sam, who is also exhausted, looks at Frodo with tears in his eyes and says, “Let’s be rid of it. I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” Sam picks up Frodo and step-by-step carries him up the mountain.
“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken”. Ec. 4:12