(Note: If you haven’t read The Hobbit, almost none of this will make sense to you.)
In a case of life imitating art, or vice-versa, I was reading chapter 11 of The Hobbit to the kids last night and easily saw the similarities between the dwarves going toward the Lonely Mountain to face Smaug and my own upcoming battle.
Initially, the dwarves are encouraged to be so close to the end. I suppose they could almost envision it. They are finally within sight of their goal. But as they draw closer to the Lonely Mountain, their spirits are dampened, and rightly so. They still have a dragon to vanquish, after all.
I find myself going through similar instances. Part of me is glad to finally be free of imprisonment Mirkwood, so to speak. The barrel ride was painful and nauseating, but the most difficult part of my journey seems to be behind me. And yet, it is more likely that the most difficult part it ahead. The trials of the past 45 years might easily seem nothing in comparison to the fight I have only just begun.
You see, dragons are trickier than orcs or even wood elves. Imprisonment in an abusive relationship might someday look like nothing when I have to actually stand and face this next hurdle.
Fortunately, I do have hope. I have, to my surprise, friends who have supported me thus far, and I have no doubt they will continue to do so. That was a surprise because I was always afraid that if I told anyone what was happening, they would be like all those annoying Christian books I’ve read before and simply tell me I needed to try harder. I needed to be a better person, I needed to continue to support my abusers on the off chance that would save them. Never mind that the abuse was actually killing me, never mind that my children appeared to be one by one turning from God because of it.
Still, as I look at that mountain I can understand why Bilbo felt so discouraged. Even from a distance it is menacing. It is yet another unknown and the desire to return to the familiar hobbit hole is appealing.
I guess I also understand the Israelites as they traveled through the desert. Many believers laugh at them, say how stupid the people were to desire to trade freedom for slavery. But so many do this every day, and, sadly, encourage others to as well. To ask a person, to tell a person, to remain in an abusive relationship for the sake of (insert your reason here) is to ask them to remain in slavery. And the abused will listen because change is terrifying and, usually, the unknown keeps them in bondage. If Moses hadn’t come to town and kicked butt, honestly, the Israelites would never have left, though they outnumbered the Egyptians.
Whenever I am weakened by the future unknown, it is the people who remind me what is at stake, a future of enslavement to abuse for myself and my children, that encourage me to continue, no matter how difficult it looks. And I can assure you, it looks bad. They keep me from turning around and heading back to Egypt, to the familiar slavery I have always known.
It is not easy, and chapters 12 and 13 and beyond, will prove to make the internal fears of chapter 11 look like nothing. But the alternative is no longer acceptable. I have come thus far and I cannot turn around. The path back through Mirkwood is forever blocked by the threat of further imprisonment. It’s just not where I wish to spend the rest of my days. I guess I’ve finally reached the point where a dragon doesn’t seem nearly the threat I once thought it was.