I admit it—I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan. I blame my father who not only read us The Hobbit, but the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. I also blame him and his creepy character voices for my resulting nightmares about Gollum.
There’s a scene in The Return of the King where Eowyn and Merry have arrived with the rest of the riders of Rohan at the battle for Gondor. Tens of thousands of orcs are decimating the city below them, and they line up—ready to go into battle.
Eowyn leans down and whispers, “Courage, Merry. Courage for our friends.”
It’s a chilling line that has come to mind often lately as I’ve thought about the role our friends have played in our journey and the role we’d like to play in theirs. You see, our friends have walked quite the road with us. They certainly didn’t sign on for supporting a young couple through a devastating diagnosis, but support they did. They didn’t volunteer to ride a wild roller coaster of court decisions as we brought home and tried to adopt our foster son a couple of years ago, but ride they did.
When our lives were falling apart, they stepped in, offering courage and hope when ours failed.
This weekend, some of our friends received discouraging news about their adoption. Other friends shared exciting news about their family. Here’s what I’m realizing: It takes courage to show up for both the heartbreaking situations and the joyful ones. It takes courage to say I want to walk this road with you, wherever it leads. It takes courage to do this life together.
You might be surprised by the forms this courage can take. It looks like a friend hosting a beautiful baby shower for your foster son, even though it’s clear you won’t be able to keep him, because she believes that he should be celebrated and treasured. It looks like a friend coming over on your birthday, the same day you lost your foster son, and bringing sunflowers, wine, and chick flicks because she knows you shouldn’t be alone. It looks like friends driving you to doctor’s appointments when your foot (and your heart) are broken. It looks like friends staying up late, simply listening as you pour out grief you didn’t know you still had. It looks like friends showing up at 5 a.m. to help with a rummage sale to raise funds for your adoption. It looks like countless notes, texts, and calls—because they know you’re hurting and because they’ve been thinking of and praying for you.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? This courage that God gives us for each other. This courage that reflects His faithfulness and strength.
I’m not sure we’ve given nearly as much as we’ve received from the incredible individuals in our lives, but we’re committed to walking with them. We’re committed to having courage for our friends.
Do you know others who need courage right now—who need it from you? It’s not as daunting as it sounds. It’s about showing up, even when you don’t know what to do or say. Especially then. Chances are, others are holding back because they don’t know what to do or say either. Your friends need people who will walk with them, even if you’re tripping over the hurdles they’re facing. At least you’re tripping together.
Or, maybe it’s you who needs support. Don’t be afraid to reach out for it. Your friends want to help—they may just not know how. Remember, we’re meant to carry each other’s burdens. We’re meant to face these things together.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4)