At times I lose perspective on exactly what sort of a life I live. My life looks very different from what I thought it should look like at this point. But this past Saturday I gained a little perspective.
This Saturday my roommate and I watched the iconic It’s a Wonderful Life. Not my first time to see it, but my roommate watched for the first time. There’s something about watching a movie you know with someone who sees it for the first time. In all honesty, I know this timeless film with a vague familiarity. But now, I get what I missed out on for so long by not watching this more as an adult.
I identified with George Bailey more than I want to admit. And come on, all of us do to some degree. His character unfolds in a way that most can connect to something about him.
George longed and dreamt of adventures and travel far away from the town he knew, far away from the place that knew him so well. But life and circumstance seemed to stilt him. He stayed. He stayed so his brother could go. He stayed so the family business could remain open. He stayed to afford others the chance to do more. But, he felt he settled.
I get it George. At times I feel like I shorted myself at the cost of caring for others, which feels so selfish and narcissistic to type. I feel like maybe I did not reach my “potential” or get what I wanted because I chose (and at times felt forced) to serve others. I gave up a grand adventure to stay at a school my state deems a failure. I stayed for nine years when I planned to stay for just one. I stayed to see the girls I mentored through young life graduate high school, but now they inch closer and closer to graduating college with each passing semester. I stayed and others went, and then some came back. They came back with stories and memories I did not get. They seemed to get the life full of new I wanted, but did not get.
But despite the way I feel, I know, and was so blatantly reminded after watching It’s a Wonderful Life, my life goes beyond me. Even though I stayed, I did not settle. Even though I stayed my life does not lack adventure or memories or value. Just like George, the investment I made and continue to make in others where I live now does and will continue to impact others far beyond me. The students I teach and did teach I still get to see. I get to see them grow way taller than me and become contributing members of society. My first class of second graders, now sophomores in high school, grew into little adults which blows my mind. Investing in my young life girls for many years teaches me more than I could ever teach them, but more on that another time. Learning to develop community as an adult challenges and pushes me.
My life contains so much joy and adventure. My life bursts with what I thought geography and freedom would provide me. Gems and riches splatter my life like a Jackson Pollack painting, but I don’t always view it that way. Seeing George realize the richness of his life reminded me how little thought I give to how God allows me to impact those around me for His kingdom. So thank you, George and company for reminding me of the simple beauty my life holds by staying.
My prayer for us all, may we seek to revel where God puts us. May we all choose to reflect and open our hearts and eyes to the beauty of how God unfolds our stories even we it doesn’t make sense or look like we want. And y’all, let’s not wait for the Christmas season to do this. I pray we each make this a habitual practice in our own lives.