I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.
That quote comes from my very favorite moment in the Lord of the Rings Films. Frodo can’t go on and Samwise carries him up the last slope. It is a moment in time when the quiet assistant character gets to be a hero. It is when the audience sees that without support failure is imminent. Every time I see the scene, I cry.
I thought of the scene this morning when my daughter was frantically typing away at a homework paper and remembered that she needed to bring treats to class. Cheesecake, she declared. She had promised cheesecake. I dropped what I was doing and began making a quick batch of cookies. I couldn’t run to the store for cheescake and return in time, but I could bake cookies. My daughter was not pleased with the substitution. Then she was surprised and contrite when I got upset about her ingratitude. Only in the face of my tears did it occur to her that me dropping work to make cookies was a gift rather than something to be expected.
Carrying someone else is beautiful and heroic. Carrying the same person over and over is exhausting. How many times could Samwise have carried Frodo up the same slope if Frodo kept slipping back down? And what if there were three Frodos or five? At what point would Samwise collapse and need to be carried himself? There are times when carrying another person is the best and only solution. However it is not the only possible solution for most things. Sometimes Frodo just needs to realize that Samwise is tired too and offer to carry his pack for awhile.