It's a Wonderful Life

Let me preface this post with a Public Service Announcement.  If you have never seen It's a Wonderful Life, the film, stop what you're doing right now and go watch it.  You're doing yourself a disservice with every day that passes and you haven't seen it.  I'll wait here.

***drums fingers to pass the time***

Fair warning:  If you didn't watch it, there will be spoilers. 

Wasn't it awesome?  Hands down my favorite movie of all time.  It's always presented at Christmas time and I guess that's relevant since the culmination of the movie takes place in front of the Christmas tree, but it truly is an anytime movie.

I've always related to George Bailey.  When I was younger I was a dreamer.  I might not have had the same dreams as him.  I wasn't a dreamer in the whimsical sense of exploring distant lands and adventuring on safari.  I dreamed of what my future would look like in a practical sense.  I planned things.  I didn't plan a beautiful, extravagant wedding or an exotic honeymoon like many young women.  I created a picture of a life I thought I wanted.  A Georgetown townhome in the hustle and bustle of anonymity.  A successful career.  Security and comfort.  Predictability.  I created goals for myself, and I set out to achieve them.  Many times I did.  Through hard work, an innate diligence, a support system, and privilege, I was able to accomplish a lot of things at a young age.

In a sense, nothing has changed.  I'm still the same girl capable of working hard and being diligent.  My support system is stronger than ever.  And there is simply no denying that my life is one of privilege.  To suggest otherwise would be a bold-faced lie.  But the picture is different.  I'm not where I expected to be.  This is where good ol' George Bailey comes into play.  Through various life-altering events, he came to be the head of his father's Building & Loan, stuck in the town he grew up in, solving (to him) mundane problems for his fellow townsmen, growing a family in a house in constant disrepair.  The picture had changed.  He threw himself the biggest of pity parties.

George didn't realize that his expectations were the only reason he was disappointed - that the work he was doing and life he was living were significant to uncountable people.  It took the drastic measure of a guardian angel to show George what the world would look like without him in it.

Let's not get all caught up in the theology of this and let the story be just that - a story that paints a beautiful picture.

Some days, I relate to George Bailey.  I'm doing work I never imagined I'd do, surrounded by an alarming number of children I never dreamed I'd have, in a place I wouldn't have guessed that I'd pick to live.  Sometimes, it's easy for me to think that what I do isn't making a difference.  I don't have a Clarence to slap sense back into me, but my husband is a bit like Mary Hatch, always able to find the positive.  He's the optimism to my realism (okay, fine cynicism).  And while there's not a tangible Clarence to show me what life would be like without me, I cannot imagine a planet earth without each and every one of these precious children.  My world has become so much bigger than myself.  I feel my selfishness creep in and God laughs and tells me "Ain't nobody got time for that."  I can't take credit for any of my blessings.  Clearly God is doing his work in spite of me.  But I see evidences of grace when Abby corners me in private and asks me if I can tell everyone to go outside and play together so she can spend some time with her big brother, who doesn't even realize how much she adores him.  I see Sarah rush to a crying Hannah, change her diaper, and sing her a sweet song.  I see Leah and Noah playing  not fighting co-existing in the playroom without bloodshed or screaming.  I see a family of 8 on the road together for 31 days on the adventure of a lifetime, sharing tiny spaces on little sleep, and returning home tired, but closer than ever.

I see smiles and hand-holding.

I see children who know how to appreciate the finer things in life.  I get to re-experience the simple things through their eyes.  I get to show them the beauty that surrounds us.  

I see children with the gift of a true childhood.  One spent outside exploring, getting dirty.  Full of spontaneous giggles.  And lots and lots of laundry.

I see the testing of boundaries.

I get to realize that the messes aren't messes.  They are just evidences a life fully lived.

Anytime I find myself chasing the "what if" rabbit, I need only pause for a split second to realize that all of those neat and tidy expectations about my future weren't what I needed.  

This was.  

Thank you, God, for blessings beyond my wildest imagination.  For directing the course of my life.  For allowing me to experience the fullness of your love.

This is the life. It's wonderful.

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