Paul's Ponderings

Spiritual Formation. Discipleship. Christian Living.

A Shadow and a Thought

Aragorn and EowynI used to follow Rebecca St. James on Facebook. Besides being a well known Christian singer, Rebecca St. James has also been a loud voice in the True Love Waits campaign. Being single for much of her life, before getting married in April of 2011, added credibility to her message.

One thing about being a celebrity, even a minor one like Rebecca St. James, is that people think they know you because they have had glimpses of your life through articles, interviews, and performances. The result is that some guys would fall in love with the image of Rebecca they had created in their minds. They would write their declarations of love for her on her Facebook page.

When I read these public declarations of love I couldn’t help but think about a scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In the scene Aragorn, the heir to the throne of Gondor prepares to take a perilous journey under the mountain to enlist the help of the army that resides there.

As he prepares to leave the Riders of Rohan, with whom he has been traveling, Éowyn, the princess of Rohan, comes to plead for him to stay with them. Aragorn asks her why she has come. The look of shock and hurt comes across her face and she says, “Don’t you know?”

There is a pause as Aragorn slowly realizes what she is talking about. He replies; “It is but a shadow and a thought that you love. I cannot give you what you seek.”

There are two thoughts from this scene that I think are vitally important for us to remember.

The first thought is: We need to dwell in reality and not fantasy. I know how easy it is to let our daydreams control our thoughts. Rebecca St. James is just one of the female celebrities that I had a crush on before reality hit me.

I have also used eHarmony a few different times in the past, in fact I was blessed enough to discover and marry my dream girl through eHarmony, but one of the things I had to be mindful of was the false intimacy that happens through the process. It was easy to let my imagination go wild as I went through the different stages of communication that eHarmony offers, and before I knew it I believed in my heart that I loved this woman, even though we hadn’t even met in person.

My so-called love wasn’t built on reality, but it was built on a fantasy that I had created. This is part of the reason why we have the saying, “Love is blind.” We tend to look at the person we are dating through the lens of our fantasy. This fantasy blinds us to the reality of who he/she truly is. When we do this we are not being fair to them or to us.

So how can we avoid living in a fantasy world?

  1. We need to anchored in our relationship with God. The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:2-4; Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory(ESV). When our primary focus is on God and His Kingdom that brings clarity to the other areas of our lives. This in turn will bring understanding into our (real or imaginary) relationships.
  2. We need two or three Christian friends/mentors who will tell us the truth and not simply what we want to hear. I have this in my friend Sam and my brother Tom. I can’t tell you how many times God has used them to bring clarity into all areas of my life. The key for this work, apart from their faith in Christ Jesus, is our willingness to hear their counsel. If we are not willing to consider what they have to say then we will not benefit from the counsel they give.
  3. We need to examine our hearts. We need ask ourselves questions like: Am I spending too much time thinking about this relationship? What do I really know about her? or Does she enjoy spending time with me? There is nothing wrong with a little daydreaming, but there is something wrong when it consumes our thought life. Especially when we begin to feel the terror from the thought of having to live without her. That feeling of terror or of hopelessness is a good indication that you are not living in reality when it comes to the relationship.

The second thought is:  “I cannot give you what you seek.” Think about what John Eldredge wrote in Wild at Heart; “We must reverse Adam’s choice; we must choose God over Eve. We must take our ache to him. For only in God will we find the healing of our wound” (emphasis added, p. 117). The healing that we need, the purpose we long for, and the worship we need to give cannot be found in a romantic relationship. The other person doesn’t have that power. Only God can give us what we truly need.

If we believe that the only thing missing from our lives is a romantic relationship, then that is an indication that we are trying to find life apart from God. As Christians we don’t enter into a relationship in order to get something, we enter into a relationship in order to give.

The ironic thing is that when we are in the best place to give to another person is when we learn contentment for in our life. No longer do we seek a romantic relationship to complete us, but we trust God to lead us into what is best.

This doesn’t mean you will not have a desire to be married and have a family, but it does mean that those things are no longer essential to your happiness. Instead you are trusting God for your life.

When I was still single this thought led me to pray, “God help me to be content with Your timing, for I know Your timing is the best timing. In this time of singleness prepare me to be the husband and father that You desire me to be.” I realized that in order for me to bless my wife I had to first go to God for healing, equipping, and guidance. That allowed me to trust Him to bring her into my life at just the right time.

Thankfully He did just that. It is important to note that waiting on God’s timing doesn’t absolve you from responsibility or make everything just fall into place. Like Boaz in the book of Ruth, when she shows up you have to take the initiative to pursue her.

God has placed within us a desire to love and to be loved. He has also wired men to notice the wonderful beauty that is discovered in a woman. He has wired women to notice the strength and stability that men have to offer. It is not wrong to desire to have a romantic relationship. What is wrong is to allow that romantic relationship, or the thought of a relationship, to blind us to reality of who the other person truly is.

For that reason we have to make sure that we are grounded in our relationship with with God, that we are content with His timing for our lives, and that we trust Him to provide what we need. After all when it comes to life, God has promised to give us everything that we need when we need it. This includes our relationships.

a shadow and a thought

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1 Comment

  1. Well thought out. When literature conveys a lingering and valid message, it continues to resonate and enrich our lives. Great use of Aragorn’s response to Elrond.

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