1) In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, readers encounter characters that remind us of the best in ourselves. Yet none of the characters are without flaws. They all struggle, but it is their very struggle to overcome their weaker selves that their true heroism is born. Think about Aragorn, Frodo, Bilbo, Sam, Gandalf, Legolas, Faramir, Eowyn, or any of the other heroic characters in The Lord of the Rings as you read and see if you can’t identify with them in some measure.
2) Heroes believe in something beyond themselves and their belief leads to conviction and conviction draws them into action. For me personally, it was my belief that my children were pure gifts from God that led me to consider their welfare over my convenience and decide to homeschool. For over twelve years that faith has led my family down a winding path of exploration and learning which I would not change for all the gold in a dragon’s lair.
3) Heroes hope—a lot! Homeschooling, like mothering, is a multifaceted experience. Some days things go well and some days I want to pack it all in and start over. But even on the worst days, I find myself clinging to the conviction that I had the right idea and that suffering does not necessarily mean I am on the wrong track but rather that bends and twists in the journey merely force me to rely on God’s wisdom more than my own. Hope is really trusting in God through the good times as well as the bad.
4) Heroes are capable of deep, enduring love. Love in our society has a tenancy to be equated with a passion, but passion rightly lived is merely the expression of love. Love itself is the commitment to do the best you can for another person, no matter the surrounding conditions or even the worthiness of the object of your love. There have been times when I have had to deal with the worst side of those I loved, yet in those excruciatingly painful moments, I knew that God still loved this person, even when I thought they no longer deserved my love. It was in those moments that I had to call upon the heroic nature of God and the supernatural spirit of love to wish the best for the other person—no matter whether they could understand or even receive it.
5) Heroes get gifts—like wisdom, understanding, and fortitude. Acting like a real hero means committing to a high level of faith, hope, and love. It is in living that way that one actually becomes a better person. Simply choosing to want to be a hero – makes you more fit to actually become one.
6) Heroes pay a price for their choices—just like everyone else. Heroes can’t just ride off on a white horse and slay the nearest dragon. The difference between a real hero and someone just trying on the suit is pride. Real heroes don’t think of themselves as heroes. Heroes usually have other heroes they look to for strength and guidance. Kind of wonderful to realize that the best of us draw out the best in others.
7) Tolkien was a man who loved heroes. And in the process—he became one.
For more food for thought about Tolkien’s work: The Road Goes Ever On – A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings
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