The Need to be Needed

“I no longer call you servant, but friend”? (John 15:15)
by David Yep, LC | Source:

Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins: two completely different personalities and still the best of friends, maybe one of the best examples of friendship in literature.

   Particularly endearing is the scene where Frodo, for the good of the Fellowship, separates himself from the group. As soon as he is missed, everyone begins to search for him. But only his good friend Sam knows where to go. He knows his master’s heart and that knowledge leads him to the solution. He races down to the shore and arrives just in time to see Frodo rowing away. He starts into the water. “Sam, you can’t swim,” yells Frodo frantically. But Sam’s love is greater than his common sense and he continues forward. Soon however, he sinks. Frodo brings the boat over as fast as he can, fishes his friend out of the water and scolds him for his stubbornness. Sam can only reply: “I made a promise, Mr Frodo. A promise. "Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee." And I don't mean to. I don't mean to.“ 

   But, dear Sam, there comes a moment when you do leave him. Why? And that is our lesson for today. 

   As the two friends continued on, guided by the notorious Gollum, their friendship was ever more strained. True enough, Frodo was not himself and Gollum was constantly sowing seeds of doubt about Sam’s loyalty in his mind. Eventually the situation climaxed and Frodo broke his poor Sam’s heart, sending him away, ultimately saying that he was no longer needed. 

   It’s funny. Normally we would say that a friend needs us. We are there for him. We help him in the hard moments. 

   But sometimes we forget that can be seen from another angle: your friend needs to be needed! He needs to see that he contributes something to what you are, that you would not be the same without him, that he gives you something that you don’t find elsewhere. 

   At times our relationships remain shallow because we are Mr. Perfect. Whether because of our pride or a simple lack of reflection or gratitude, we don’t realize what the other does for us. It’s good for your friend to know that you need him. 

   Sam went away distraught, because his mission had been to be a friend for Frodo, and apparently, his friendship was no longer needed. I know that feeling too. When you are convinced that the other person doesn’t really need you, even if he likes you and you need him, your friendship wanes, falters or breaks. 

   You will go a long way for someone you know needs you. Your friend will too, if he knows you need him. Sam went away distraught, yes, but not beaten. His friendship was too strong. He realized that his master did need him, Frodo just didn’t know it. That conviction saved what would have been a lost friendship and Sam headed back, determined to be there when his master needed him. 

   Wouldn’t you say a fitting greeting for Sam from Frodo would have been: “I no longer call you servant, but friend”? (John 15:15)

David Yep writes for www.formationtoolbox.comThis Catholic Formation Service is also available by e-mail.To subscribe please write to:

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