A week ago I wrote a post entitled God’s Plans. My basis premise was that too often we become dissatisfied with where we are in our lives because it’s not where we think we should be. I know that I struggle with this quite often as a stay-at-home mom with a post graduate degree. After all the work I did in my younger years to become something, how did I let myself end up in an unpaid position folding laundry and chauffeuring kids around?
Today, as part of our Christmas movie marathon here in Steamboat, we watched It’s A Wonderful Life. When I was younger, it was my favorite Christmas film. As I’ve aged, however, it’s been replaced as favorite by other stories. As I was watching today, I pondered why it was no longer my favorite. Sure it’s a bit dated and hokey (especially when my kids make me watch the colorized version I abhor). When the bell rings on the Christmas tree and ZuZu talks about the angel getting his wings, I nearly lapse into a sugar coma. But, the overall sweetness of the film is not what has changed how I feel about it.
Truth is that the story hits a bit too close to home. I understand exactly how George Bailey feels on his critical night. Overcome with bitterness for what he feels is his great failure to do anything “important” with his life, he lashes out at his family. He forgets all he has and focuses instead on what is lacking. He believes his life is pointless and that the world would not be any worse off had he never been born.
It’s A Wonderful Life chronicles George Bailey’s midlife crisis. And, I can relate. But, if I can relate to the breakdown George suffers as he fears he is about to lose the business his father built, the thing that changed his life irretrievably from what he hoped it would be, then I should be able to relate to his epiphany too. Blinded by his self-perceived failure, George nearly fails to recognize the enormous gift he received by taking a different path. Only when presented with a vision of the world without him does he understand what he truly has.
I am George Bailey. I get shortsighted and fixate occasionally on what I’m lacking rather than what makes me rich. I bet I’m not the only one either. Instead of relegating this movie to the bottom of my Christmas favorites list, I should watch it more often as a reminder that concentrating on what I didn’t become doesn’t change the positive things that I am instead. George’s story is not a story about Christmas. It’s a story about life, a wonderful life, one I probably fail to acknowledge often enough.