One of the annual Christmas season rituals for my wife and me is to watch the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We did that again tonight. Given the number of years we’ve been doing this, it’s safe to say that I’ve seen this movie more times than any other movie.
You know the story line: James Stewart’s character, George, hits a new low when a series of unfortunate events leads him to conclude that things would be better if he had never been born. Clumsy angel-in-training Clarence gives George the chance to see what the world would be like if that were true, proving to George that he has made a big difference in the lives of others and that he has, in fact, a wonderful life.
I don’t know anyone who always has only good things happen to them, nor anyone who is always the victim of bad. Life is a mixture of both. What matters is how we handle it, and that is a matter of attitude, character, determination, effort and faith.
My worst lows of the past year are nothing compared to the heartache many experienced. I am blessed with a wonderful family, great friends, a comfortable home, a job I love that rewards me financially and intrinsically, great relationships, a church with many friends I love, and a Christian faith that serves as the core of who I am and how I see the world.
I don’t expect any movie to ever be made of my life, and if it was it would more likely be called It’s a Weird, Mixed, Unpredictable, Boring, Hypocritical Life: Why Are You Watching This? But from where I sit as I write this in my 12-year-old recliner in my 70-year-old home beside my 2-year-old dog after 33 years of marriage, I have to agree with George. Not because of the difference I’ve made in the lives of others (although I hope there’s truth in that), but because of all the ways others have blessed me and continue to do so, leap year lesson #357 is It’s a wonderful life.