I love the Lord of the Rings. I mean I truly, honestly, in the nerdiest way possible, love it. The fact that I have to prevent myself from saying, “That’s like the part in Lord of the Rings where…” in every conversation is why your mother doesn’t worry about other women trying to take me home when I go to the bar without her.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read the books. Yet, every time I do, I discover something new, something wonderful, something life changing. It’s a part of who I am. It’s shaped the way I think and the way I view the world.
It’s even shaped the way I parent.
You and I have watched the Fellowship of the Ring three times this week. Each time, I find myself pausing the film to tell you things like, “I want you to be loyal, like Sam,” or, “Learn to be as honorable as Aragorn,” and even, “You’ll have to forgive Peter Jackson for making Merry and Pippin look like buffoons. Someday we’ll read the books and you’ll discover they’re the greatest examples of true friendship you’ll ever find.”
But, I want you to know more than just the name of Frodo’s father, which is Drogo. I want you to know more than the fact that the hobbits and Strider arrived at Weathertop on October 6th, my birthday. And while I want you to have a fully formed and articulated opinion on whether the Bolrog had wings or if his shadow and fire merely gave the appearance of wings, there are more important things you can learn from this story.
Lewis, today is September 22nd – it’s Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday! It’s also your Aunt Melissa’s birthday, but we’re not going to talk about how God messed up and gave her the best birthday ever instead of me. So, in honor of this momentous day I want to show you 10 reasons why I want you to be just like Bilbo.
1. Bilbo Was Generous
“…as Mr. Baggins was generous with his money, most people were willing to forgive his oddities and his good fortune.” (Pg. 21)
“There’s some not far away that wouldn’t offer a pint of beer to a friend, if they lived in a hole with golden walls. But they do things proper at Bag End.” (Pg. 24)
Lewis, some of the most important people in my life – Papa, C.S. Lewis, Jeff Hacker – are known for their generosity. Be generous with your money, your time, and your heart.
2. Bilbo Trusted Others
“You are an interfering old busybody,” laughed Bilbo, “but I expect you know best, as usual.”
Lewis, surround your self with friends who are filled with wisdom, just like Bilbo did. That way, when they do or say something you don’t at first agree with you’ll trust that they see something you don’t.
3. Bilbo Knew He Was Part Of Something Bigger Than Himself
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say. (Pg. 35)
Bilbo wasn’t foolish enough to believe the world revolved around him. Yet, he was wise enough to know that each of us has a part to play in the grand story.
4. Bilbo Believed In Buying Local
“There might have been some grumbling about ‘dealing locally’, but that very week orders began to pour out of Bag End for every kind of provision, commodity, or luxury that could be obtained in Hobbiton or Bywater or anywhere in the neighborhood.” (Pg. 25)
By the time you’re old enough to buy things with your own money I hope you’ll have learned that buying locally isn’t something you do so you can put a bumper sticker on your scooter, or speak condescendingly to people while sipping your microbrew beer. Instead, I hope you buy locally because it’s the right thing to do.
5. Bilbo Respected Others And Their Wisdom
“…Bilbo was very polite to [the Gaffer], calling him ‘Master Hamfast’, and consulting him constantly upon the growing of vegetables – in the matter of ‘roots’, especially potatoes, the Gaffer was recognized as the leading authority by all in the neighborhood.” (Pg. 22)
Bilbo was smart enough to know that he didn’t know everything. You’re not going to be good at everything, Lewis. Humble yourself and ask for help. Your life will be better, and easier, if you do.
6. Bilbo Knew Doing The Right Thing Takes Practice
“’After all that’s what this party business was all about, really: to give away lots of birthday presents, and somehow make it easier to give [the Ring] away at the same time.’”(Pg. 34)
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. It takes practice. Be willing to work at it, just like Bilbo.
7. Bilbo Inspired The Next Generation
“’[Sam’s] in and out of Bag End. Crazy about stories of the old days he is, and he listens to all Mr. Bilbo’s tales.’” (Pg. 24)
“’[Frodo] would come with me, of course, if I asked him. In fact he offered to once, just before the party.’” (Pg. 32)
If it weren’t for Bilbo investing so much time into the younger hobbits I don’t think they would have been ready for their own adventure. But, because Bilbo filled their heads with wisdom and stories of overcoming great odds and evils, they believed they were capable of great things.
8. He Cared For The Orphaned
“Mr. Bilbo never did a kinder deed than when he brought the lad back to live among decent folk.” (Pg. 23)
James 1:27 says: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
9. Bilbo Did What Was Right In The End
“A spasm of anger passed swiftly over the hobbit’s face again. Suddenly it gave way to a look of relief and a laugh. ‘Well, that’s that,’ he said. ‘Now I’m off!’” (Pg. 34)
Again, doing the right thing isn’t always easy. You may mess up along the way. What matters most is that you persevere and do right in the end.
10. Bilbo Befriended Outcasts
“’And look at the outlandish folk that visit him: dwarves coming at night, and that old wandering conjuror, Gandalf, and all.’” (Pg. 24)
Lewis, your life will be richer and far more exciting if you will open your arms, your heart and your home to those that others consider ‘outlandish folk.’ Bilbo did, and he changed the fate of Middle-earth. Jesus did, and he changed the fate of humanity.
* * * * * * * * * *
Lewis, take wisdom wherever you can get it. I don’t care if it’s from music, movies, books or graffiti written on a bathroom wall.
I love you.
P.S. All of the examples I gave you are from the first chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring. Imagine how much you’ll learn once you’ve read the whole story!
Did I miss anything? What else about Bilbo is admirable?
What fictional character do you really want to be like? Why?
Share your story and encourage others by leaving a comment below, or by joining the conversation on Facebook.
Want to read more letters like this one? Check out the suggested letters below.