It’s a Wonderful Life, Carin
|photo credit: moviefone.com|
Every year we watch Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. I am usually busy preparing the holiday meal and so I run in and out of the movie spending most of my time in the kitchen while the family watches the movie. This year, I really, really wanted to watch the movie, so I spent most of my time watching the movie and here and there running into the kitchen. (Confession: This year we actually ate on paper plates, but we did use the China the night before. And I never did make it to the shower….Oh well. 🙂
As I was in the kitchen during one of efforts to manage dinner and watch, I had an epiphany. I have George Bailey disease. For those of you who have never seen the movie, George Bailey’s (Jimmy Stewart) only real desire his entire life is to get out of the ‘crummy little town’ where he grew up. He wants to see the world. He wants to go to college. He wants to become someone and do something that is far, far away from Bedford Falls.
Now, I do not live in the same town where I grew up. I had the opportunity to go to college. Though I didn’t finish everything I wanted to do there, I have a degree. I accomplished some of the things I wanted to. Unfortunately, I have always wanted to do and be more than I am. I have been ready for a while to be done with the path the Lord has asked me to walk. (Not in a spiritual sense, more a temporal one.) I constantly struggle against the worldly desires of my heart to do what the Lord has asked of me and to be where He wants me to be. Even though I have many, many blessings, I struggle to be satisfied and appreciate the loaves and fishes the Lord has seen fit to bless me with ….and I want different ones. Does that seem to be the lot of the natural man or woman in each of us, or is it just my natural woman??
Why is it so very difficult to be and do what the Lord asks and appreciate the very deep gifts and blessings He has given to each of us? Why do we look at others and see in their lives things we lack in our own? How do we learn to be grateful, content, happy in our sphere and then to bring that joy, happiness, and peace into the lives of others? Do we somehow feel that God must love us less because we do not have the things we want? Do we not remember that God is a perfect Father who loves us perfectly…..that He knows what we need to develop the characteristics within that mirror His own perfected attributes?
I know that being and doing what the Lord asks of me is developing within me characteristics that are difficult for me to put into practice. I know if it were left up to me, I would never develop those qualities because it is hard and I prefer a life free of difficulty and pain. I would overemphasize my strengths and the things I am good at and where I would receive the praises of men (because I, personally, think I need those things in order to be successful. I certainly appreciate them more and it makes it easier to do the things I am not fond of.) However, in His infinite wisdom, the Lord has seen fit to put me in a place that severely limits worldly praise (motherhood, lots of it) and even occasionally evokes criticism and judgement. I have had to learn to do what is right in the face of the ever great and spacious building, always in earshot of their mocking. (In case you didn’t know it, I am a people-pleaser and I like people [all people] to like me.) I am super sensitive and it hurts my feelings when people don’t like me. (Pathetic, I know.)
These thoughts and ideas have been coming to my consciousness ever so slowly over the course of the last few years. I am still not embracing my position and am far, far away from expressing gratitude for them. But I recognize their eternal significance and the spiritual peril I place myself in if I try to run away from the process. I have been praying for a change of heart, a place where I quit wishing for the illusive greener grass of another pasture.
THIS is MY pasture. I need to make the grass green, that may take a LOT of water and fertilizer, unfortunately. I need to find some flowers and trees that I like. I may need to learn new skills so I can manage the pasture properly and make it beautiful. If I am willing to put in the work and effort, it can be beautiful. I may have to tear down old barns, or places where I have not been willing to put in effort or the weeds have overgrown due to my lack of attention. But the Lord is completely aware of all of those spaces. He knows the beauty that lies within and He knows what landscaping will make that old heap of junk into a luscious garden, if I will only trust Him and do what He asks—-where, and when, and how. Why am I so very attached to that old heap? Because it is comfortable? Because it requires no effort? Because I enjoy having a pile of garbage in the yard??
It is time, time to clean out the old and allow the Master Gardner to do with my pasture what He will. I don’t want George Bailey disease. I want to appreciate my pasture. I want to be willing to do the work to have an oasis from the world. I am afraid of pain, and growth, and pain, and sweat, and pain. Oh give me the strength to move forward. Give me a new heart of faith and hope and determination. Help me to put forth the work and effort necessary to clear away that old barn and pile of old junk.
It’s a wonderful life, Carin. It truly is. Maybe if you are willing to work and trust, you’ll get your wings, just like Clarance.
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.” ― Orson F. Whitney