My son and I are HUGE Lord of the Rings fans. We have read the books, watched the movies on opening night, and played the video games. When my son turned 13 we did a “rite of passage” birthday celebration. He received a photo frame of three pictures: a photo collage of his family and friends, a passage of scripture (Proverbs 3), and the meaning of his name. We also gave him a necklace with the word Stalwart and Joshua 1:9.
I LOVE the meaning of stalwart as defined by Tolkien’s novels and it is summed up so well in this theme analysis from Litcharts:
The Fellowship’s journey reveals this is not the case, as the hobbits surprise all with their continuous abilities to overcome hardship. Most tellingly, the humble Frodo consistently rejects the Ring’s evil power, despite a man as traditionally heroic as Boromir yielding to its temptation. Tolkien therefore implies that one of the most physically inconsequential and least talented characters is the most heroic due to his moral integrity—Frodo’s resilience in persevering towards a doomed quest while overcoming his fears and failures is the ultimate form of courage.
It is selflessness, particularly in the forms of humility and service, that Tolkien promotes as the key aspect of courage and heroism…These forms of selflessness arise from a loyalty to one another and to their home, contrasting with the goal of earning personal glory that drives traditional heroes. Furthermore, The Fellowship of the Ring does not suggest that heroes are fearless, but rather that courage requires individuals to acknowledge and deal with their fears—even if there is little hope in defeating them completely.
One of my favorite quotes from Lord of the Rings is near the end as Middle Earth takes one last stand against evil and their king, Aragorn states, “A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day.”
Being stalwart is showing selfless courage in the face of insurmountable odds. This is not determined by our size or strength or our intellect…but by our heart.
This week our son is graduating from college. We had an amazing conversation around this theme as he was presenting his capstone project on being a “Stalwart Writer.” This is what I wrote to him and want to share with you…and my desire for you and me is that we would be stalwart in our lives:
Being stalwart is embracing the reality that failure is likely…but do it you must. Its why character counts and more importantly knowing God uses all experiences for His glory and your good.
Failure doesn’t have the final say in your life.
The cornerstone piece of having a stalwart heart is found in Romans 8:37-39. Our courage is found here: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels or rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor power, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”