There and Back Again

Having had the opportunity to see the pre-advance screening of Tolkien this past Tuesday I felt the need to share a quick Public Service Announcement:

GO. WATCH. TOLKIEN.

If you are not a fan…

Why not?

But in all sincerity I would still encourage you to go;

1) because it is a beautifully well done film

2) because it tells a story about a life beautifully lived.

… It is just a good story, go enjoy the story. Your Tolkien friends will thank you.

If you are a fan… like myself… and have read a few books on Tolkien and his life, his work and maybe even listened to an interview or two… still go.

There is so much more to learn, trust me.

My first lesson was I shamefully and accidentally have pronounced his name wrong my entire life. (I know, I was surprised too).

Secondly, this covers the pre-World War one years. These years are not as heavily discussed. These are the years, and the First World War, which lead to the creation of The Hobbit. After World War Two Tolkien wrote his most well known works- The Lord of the Ring Trilogy.

It was also after WWII he met Lewis (this too should one day be a movie, but I will settle for this one for now). However, as much as I love Tolkien and Lewis’s infamous friendship, I learned more about and now love the story of the friendships which built him up and carried him through those earlier years.

Finally, fan or no fan, watch the movie or don’t watch the movie, the greatest lesson is the impact we can have on this world when we allow our experiences to give us insight and share the stories and words which live in us. Use your experiences to create that which you feel called to create. God has given you talents and gifts- tell your story, which tells God’s story- and use those talents!! Write, draw, sew, quilt, crochet, build, construct, photograph… do what it is and prepare to stand back and marvel at what it is God has crafted in you.

Tolkien was probably not aware of the impact he would have on his generation, let alone the generations to follow. Just like he probably didn’t suspect that converting his stout atheist friend Lewis to Christianity would build the platform for one of the greatest Christian authors of the twenty-first century.

Only God knows the impact you will have on this earth. The lives you will change. Or maybe just the one life… that creates a domino effect… and changes the world.

Meanwhile, just know I highly recommend Tolkien (always) and personally cannot wait to see this adventure God has begun continue to play out.

Also honorable mention to the best sister cousin ever- Jaime- who though uncertain she’d enjoy this movie (a Tolkien fan but not a biography genre fan) selflessly stepped into the theater with me for not only the film – but live Q&A to follow. She also establishes that it was completely and totally worth it and highly recommends much to her own surprise and my excitement. In summary-

GO. WATCH. TOLKIEN.

At All Times

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

It is a strange thing, trying to live a life I had never imagined without you.

My dreams, path and plans have changed so many times- and often drastically- (And I now have six degrees and counting to prove it 🤷🏻‍♀️😂)

But there was always consistencies sewn into the possibilities.

And you were one of them. No matter where I went, what I did or who I became in my mind’s eye- you were right beside me at all times.

Up until 8 years ago I never foresaw this. This was never an option.

8 years later. Has it really been that long?

Everywhere and everything. You can be found in the small and mundane to the unexpected and extraordinary. 

Missing you has become a constant. You were always pretty missable.

Unfortunately there is no distance we can physically travel to get to where you are on our own. Lord knows, if there was, I (and several others who love you) would be on my way if I wasn’t already there.

Random song lyrics or just some old favorites. Movies I know you would love. Stories I hear of and think you would enjoy. Every moment spent in our once favorite store. 

And yes, there are still moments when the missing you attempts to cast a shadow. Moments when thoughts attempt to form and whisper doubt and fear and confusion.

And yet… I did say that those moments attempted to cast a shadow because when the missing you reaches the brink of unbearable, I am reminded to look up, and to take in the view.

Yes, bud, we miss you more than words can express. Lord knows, I have made every effort to get it down on paper. 8 years of efforts. Not possible thus far, but I’ll keep trying.

But don’t worry. Because the missing you instead of leaving me hopeless and beaten and broken- leaves me in a state of wonder. Because in the past 8 years God has enabled you to do some remarkable and marvel worthy things. And while I have been privileged to witness or participate in some, I realize there are so many which I cannot see or have not been revealed.

Where the world told us there was a period, God put a coma. Your story is far from over and your legacy is still in the establishing. And in those moments of remembrance, I hear God whispering

At all times.

He never left. There was never a moment he didn’t love me. Or didn’t love you. Or didn’t love all who we loved. His love is not negated by circumstance. It does not rise or fall depending on our actions or situation.

He loves at all times. And since we love because he first loved us, our love doesn’t end either- at least not without our permission.

We can get angry or disappointed and decide to cast our love aside, but it can never be taken from us without us first conceding it. And even then, I do not believe it would ever be fully gone.

A friend loves at all times. 

Bud, I hope you know how much I love you. You are still my back up. You are still the one pushing me forward. You are the still the one telling me to go, fearlessly, and if not able to go fearlessly- to go with the confidence of your full backing.

As I look back I can remember how distance had never been a problem. Friendship is not defined by distance nor can it be overthrown by distance. And if it didn’t matter states away or 5 minutes away, why would it matter heavens away? Space and time- Love spans both and I have grown to believe grows larger in proportion.

Your words from then give me hope. The laughter I can recall gives me courage. The faces and stories I share with our family and friends kindle my resilience. God has called us to a holy defiance- against every bit of darkness, dismay and despair. In the words of Samwise Gamgee – I am reminded there is still good in this world and it is worth fighting for. And you my friend continuously lead the way, your light and legacy shining ever the brighter.

Growing up without you here remains difficult. But after 8 years I can no longer claim to have lived these 8 years without you. I’ve made mistakes and I’ll probably make more. I still am not entirely sure on where I am headed though I am confident in the direction… I believe. And you have been with me every step of the way. In every prayer, thought and hope.

Amid the emotions that come along with today there is a foundational sense of triumph because my friend eight years ago I never thought I’d make it to today. I couldn’t imagine finding joy and God and you in this world again. Defeated. But God, God had other plans. God has proclaimed victory over a battle I never dreamed could be fought. 8 years ago the enemy thought he’d won. He didn’t anticipate the uprising God had in store. In the middle of the pain and sorrow I cannot help but feel a laugh emerging (you know one of those possibly inappropriately timed ones) because while the battle is not over the war has already been won. Meanwhile I am going to wake every morning with two missions:

1. Praise God and be continuously awestruck at His awesomeness.

2. Ruin Satan’s day all the time.

If I had been asked 8 years ago I would have guessed I was Jonathan and you were David, assuming David was the stronger of the two. As I study and write I find my assumption would have been wrong my friend. Most of us know of David’s victories and his God anointed destiny. But God did so much, he gave David more than we ever thought to imagine. David had a best friend. And just like you in my life, that made all the difference.

And that will be my life’s work. Founded on God and his goodness. On the love he imparts to his children. And on a friendship crafted into the heart and soul. I will tell the story. I will say (and mostly write) the words. At all times.

We celebrate your life today, a life that continues to leave a light and is as vibrant today as it was 8 years ago. Cheers my friend, this adventure is far from over and from what I hear- the view is worth every valley.

♥️ Jean Bean