“Real” Blessings: It’s a Wonderful Life

By on December 12, 2011

By Deb DeArmond –

Seneca Falls isn’t the only community paying tribute this year to the holiday movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In recognition of the film’s 65th anniversary, the Los Angeles City Council has designated Saturday as “It’s a Wonderful Life” day. The movie, directed by Frank Capra, starring Jimmy Stewart, has become one of the most popular American films of all-time and a perennial holiday favorite. The plot line is intriguing: a guardian angel helps a compassionate but despairingly suicidal businessman who is ruined by a miser on Christmas Eve by showing him what life would have been like if he never existed.

Most of us over 50 are quite familiar with the film, which garnered five Academy Award nominations. Ronnie Ralph, the actor who played one of Stewart’s children in the film is the only surviving cast member. He was on hand in LA for the declaration of the special day of recognition. “People are loyal to the movie,” he said, “it’s become a tradition for many to hold parties each year, screen the film, and discuss their own blessings as well,” Ralph said in a recent interview.

Like all great Christmas movies, there is a happy ending, with Stewart coming to clarity about what’s really important in life: health, home, family love – and the awareness that through it all, it is in fact, a wonderful life.

It’s a neat and tidy ending for the movie audience. It was less than happy however, for the move itself. The film was dismissed as syrupy Christmas fare by critics, and the industry came to believe that Capra’s brilliant career had lost its luster. He slipped into obscurity within just a few years. The film was a financial failure, losing $500k, equivalent today to nearly $12M. And none of the actors nominated actually won an Oscar.

So how did this “loser” become a classic, loved by millions worldwide? It happened by mistake. Literally. Studio executives forgot to renew the copyright for the movie in 1973, paving the way for television to broadcast it as a staple of American holiday programming. It belatedly earned its rightful place in the heart of American popular culture, and is rated #11 on the American Film Institute’s list of Greatest Films.

The movie’s message is clear: sometimes things aren’t what they seem on the surface. What appears to be a disastrous failure, with a little time and perspective, turns out to be a brilliant second chance for real success and happiness. The movie’s history, amazingly, mirrors this as well. Nearly 30 years after its release, the film found its audience and become a beloved part of our Christmas tradition.

Many of us this holiday season might assess 2011 as less than “our best year.” Unemployment has hit many. Homes have been lost. Some are struggling with bills they cannot pay, illness without insurance, and loved ones that won’t be home for the festivities. Christmas cheer may seem to be in short supply. We may not feel like celebrating, not really in the mood.

Perhaps like Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, it’s time to take inventory and assess our situation. For many years, I have kept a journal where entries typically include my “gratitude” list. It’s a great place to start realizing my riches. I also have box filled with letters received from friends and family over the years safely tucked into the top of my closet. Mother’s Day sentiments, birthday wishes, notes of apology or appreciation touch my heart every time I pull them down to read them. And I cannot overlook the ability to turn on the heater or stock my refrigerator – these are reminders of the prosperity with which I am blessed. I have the right to read my Bible, attend church and openly worship God who sent His most precious gift to rescue me and secure my life forever. His grace, mercy and boundless love  – these are the blessings beyond anything I can begin to understand.

It’s difficult to struggle or watch people you love struggle. The enemy would love us to focus on what we lack instead of all that we’ve been given. Temptation to complain is great, worry seems like the responsible thing to do and fear can keep us from sleeping when we lay down at night. At times, the stress overcomes us and we find it impossible to do anything at all. The energy to pray is absent, service to others seems impossible, even reading the Word appears to be a fruitless activity. It’s not. His promises to His children are faithful, even though His timing may not meet our expectations.

So here is my challenge to you. Find the “but God….” stories in His word. The what?? You know – the “but God” references in the Bible, when all seemed impossible, but God made a way:

  • Elizabeth was past child bearing age, but God…..
  • Lazarus was dead 3 days, but God….
  • Pharaoh refused to free the children of Israel, but God….
  • Christ was crucified and laid in the tomb, but God….

So here are some scriptures to get you started:

  • Acts 13:30
  • 1 Corinthians 3:6
  • Acts 7:9
  • Proverbs 21:12
  • Romans 5:8
  • Psalm 73:26

So here’s the next step: make a list of your “but God” experiences with your heavenly father. I’ll bet you will discover as I have, His record is good. He has never failed to cover our family, even when there were setbacks and disappointments, heartache and loss. And my faith has grown because He is faithful.

It IS a wonderful life, after all.

 

Deb is ‘wife’ to her high school sweetheart, mom to three incredible sons and Gigi to two perfect grandboys. She is a former Californian who now lives in the Dallas area. She is excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. An author, speaker, and executive coach, Deb travels extensively and is always seeking a quiet place to write. Read Deb at: http://mypurposenow.org

About My Purpose Now

Deb is ‘wife’ to her high school sweetheart, mom to three incredible sons and Gigi to two perfect grandboys. She is a former Californian who now lives in the Dallas area. She is excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. An author, speaker, and executive coach, Deb travels extensively and is always seeking a quiet place to write. Read Deb at: http://mypurposenow.org

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“Real” Blessings: It’s a Wonderful Life