Every year on New Year’s Eve, I watch The Lord of the Rings series. Following the car accident that nearly took my life last year, my body is still weak, and so staying up late to ring in 2023 didn’t happen as it normally does, but my patient husband has graciously allowed that our movie nights all month be The Lord of the Rings so I could keep my tradition, even if it has to be spread out over a longer period of time. While I’ve thought about traditions as we conclude holiday celebrations, especially how traditions begin, and as I’ve watched this beloved adventure story, I’ve reflected on how one small act can change the course of a story, often impacting generations. Every tradition has a beginning, every character has a part to play, every action has a reason, and every person has a purpose.
Experiencing our first Christmas as a married couple, my husband Justin and I discussed which traditions from our families we wanted to uphold in our new family. One tradition from my family we chose to keep was eating a grapefruit on Christmas morning. From the stories I’ve been told, this tradition started because my grandmother went shopping for oranges and either the store was out of them or they were priced too high that year. Instead my grandma purchased grapefruit for their family breakfast. This quick fix decision for her menu dilemma has impacted generations of her posterity and become a permanent part of how we celebrate Christmas. My grandmother started a tradition; she is unique, she is valued, she is worthy of respect.
Part to Play:
As I’ve spent many nights snuggling on the couch with my husband enjoying the tales of Frodo and his friends as they sought to save the world from evil, I’ve considered how each member of the fellowship had a role to play. Without diving too deep, Frodo’s responsibility was to destroy the ring, and Sam’s responsibility was to be at his side every step of the way. While I’ve reflected on the trials of my last year, I sometimes feel like Frodo. I have burdens that I carry that I’ll have to one day let go of, but for a time I cling to these burdens, much like Frodo did to the ring. I often view Sam in the story as a representation of my Savior. He’s stood at my side through all my trials. He never gives up on me, He never lets me quit, and with Him I’ll never fail. When my feet could go no more, He’s carried me. When I almost died from injuries in my accident, he spared my life. I have a part to play in this world. God has a part to play in my life. I believe we all need a “Sam;” we all need a Savior. No matter which God you serve, your faith is unique, your faith has value, your faith is worthy of respect.
I feel like most of my choices are motivated by whether I’ll like the outcome or not. I don’t normally seek to choose things that will be painful or uncomfortable, because I know I wouldn’t like it. But when things come that are painful or uncomfortable, even when not by my choice, I still have the power to choose how to react. Those choices will impact me, those around me, and generations to come. The reasoning behind my actions matters; I matter. I’m unique, I have value, I’m worthy of respect.
I truly believe there is a purpose to this life, and I believe every person was created for a divine purpose. We all have a role to play; we each have a purpose that is uniquely ours. No one else can take our place. Every January, I create a mission statement for the year, defining what purpose I believe is mine for the year. For 2023, my purpose is “to be a light and force for good in the world.” This purpose will impact the motivations behind my choices and the part I play in the lives of those around me this year. Just as I have a purpose and can use my life stories for good, you have a purpose too. It’s up to you to define what that purpose is, but you’re unique, you have value, and you’re worthy of respect.