“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

No matter what time or place we find ourselves in there are always struggles. These obstacles often seem impossible, but as Gandalf says we only have one choice and that is to “decide.” So simply put as we live our lives we decide how we move forward or backwards or just stay the same. I once listened to a woman cry as she told me she had dug herself into a hole. She said, “There is nothing I can do.”

But is there really a hole so deep you can’t climb out? I do believe in most cases, no, there is usually a way. Because it all comes down to three important Gandalf lessons:

  • We make our own choices
  • We may need someone’s help to recover
  • The only aspect of life we truly control is the choices we make.

Of course some of the choices we must make are very difficult. They often involve facing the mistakes we have made, and finding the ability to forgive ourselves and others. I believe we become stuck in our own darkness, because we are too afraid to face our own choices. To take responsibility for our own actions, we cannot blame everyone else for our choices. In order to dig ourselves out of a hole we have to face ourselves, sometimes we may not like what we see. But the only person you can change is yourself.

The other problem is pride we often don’t want to ask for help. To admit to ourselves that we need others can open up past wounds. I’m sure everyone has had a time that someone let them down. But part of being strong and digging out of a hole may involve taking a risk. You need your own fellowship of friends, coworkers, parents, children, and maybe even grumpy Gimli.

Another monster that holds us back is our belief we have control of life. Be aware the only thing we truly control is ourselves and our choices. While it is scary to admit we aren’t in control, it is also liberating.  There will come a time when we must cross to the White Shores , but as Gandalf say we are only responsible for what we do with the time we have.


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