Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gollum or Smeagol... who are you?

The two figurines in this photo have pride of place on the mantlepiece in my study. They represent my favorite character in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It never ceases to amaze me how we can be so divergent in our personalities depending on the day. There is a constant battle going on in us. On the worst of days we are Gollum and on the better days we are Smeagol, while most times we are conflicted between the two. There's so much that life demands from us, that we are constantly having to make a decision to be one or the other. I wonder if we are meant to live between the two? I wonder if successful living is learning to control the measure of how much of each personality is manifest at any one time?


You see, Gollum is the daring, risk-taking, rule-breaking, confident one, but the down side is that he is selfish, mistrusting, scheming and devious. Smeagol on the other hand, is the play-within-the-boundaries, follow the rules, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth, loved-by-everybody type of guy. The downside: he's timid, insecure, and scared of his own shadow. The Gollum in us ensures that we don't allow our failures and difficulties in life to beat us down, so that people don't take undue advantage of us. Smeagol teaches us that we must learn to live within the parameters laid down by civilized society. Smeagol serves as our constant reminder that we don't live in a vacuum and cannot therefore "retire to the wilderness to live off the land" while eschewing the value of community.


I'm convinced that there's a bit of Gollum and Smeagol in every person, and learning to live within the limitations they create is the key to living well. In case you think I'm making that up, read what the most prolific New Testament writer (Apostle Paul) had to say about this struggle: "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing." So, just in case you thought you were in pretty bad shape wrestling with your "multiple personality disorder"... remember Paul! If he struggled with daily living and yet successfully penned three quarters of the New Testament, I'd venture to say you're in good company. What do you think?

9 comments:

Hope said...

I think that God supernaturally hooked us up in the blog world for this particular day. If you never say or do another thing that encourages me, I'll be happy. The scripture you quoted from Romans is exactly how I've been feeling lately, especially today. I found myself driving into work today saying, "don't look at me, Lord." Thank you. He's speaking to me through your words. On another note ... Dude! Those are the ugliest things I've ever seen in my life! I hope you don't ever have children in your office. Those things will probably give me nightmares. :)

Joseph said...

Wow, Hope, that's certainly humbling to hear. I realize that God is the one who is at work here though and so all the credit goes to Him. I'm glad it blessed you as much as it has me. I'm sorry you don't think much of my "works of art." These were pretty pricey figurines, I'd have you know, and so they aren't going on the back shelf anytime soon. As for kids in my office, we can do deliverance if we have to!!! :)

Joey said...

It's amazing to think that Paul struggled. We forget that he, David, Solomon and other "great saints" were real men just like you ane I that struggle with day to day stuff. Yes, as I say often, "been there, done that, bought the t-shirt AND have a timeshare!"

Joseph said...

Joey, you and me both buddy!

Kamsin said...

Awesome post Joseph! Some great thoughts about the complexities of life and our fragile human nature.

Joseph said...

Kamsin, thank you for your kind comments. How's Japan?

Ash said...

i like this one. "i wonder if we are meant to live between the two?" i have come to find, the older that i get, there is more room for grey- it's not always this or that way....it's naturally human...overcoming the battle of each of their weaknesses makes for a stronger character

Joseph said...

Well said Ashley. I imagine that the complexity of human nature is best viewed from the perspective of our struggle between the two.

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