It’s A Wonderful Life(time)
Sometimes we all need a Clarence in our lives
Way back, on December 25, 1946, “It’s A Wonderful Life” debuted in theaters. And more than seventy years later, the film is still going strong. “The holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing,” is the Critics Consensus of Rotten Tomatoes. With rarely seen Rotten Tomatoes scores in the 90s, “It’s A Wonderful Life” is a movie that is beloved by critics and amateurs, both young and old, perhaps because of its relatability, its timelessness, or both.
Considered a Christmas classic, the film examines some very heavy topics in a lighthearted way. A depressed main character, George Bailey, looks back at his life and laments that things aren’t as he would have expected. He feels as if he is always a day late and a dollar short. He tries to do the right thing and be a good person, but it seems as if luck and loot evade him at every turn. As he trudges through each day, he begins to consider suicide, as he just wants to give up and end the despair, and what he perceives to be his own personal failure. It doesn’t help matters when George is told by the malevolent Mr. Potter, “You’re worth more dead than alive.” Or does it?
Enter an angel-in-training, Clarence, who has not yet earned his own place in life, or shall we say…in heavenly history. While it seems George is always saving someone else, Clarence is tasked with saving George from himself. When George proclaims, “I wish I’d never been born,” Clarence knows it is his cue to get to work, and thus, tells George, “You’ve got your wish. You’ve never been born.”
And poof! George’s life as he knows it is gone and his life story has essentially been rewritten. Easy to forget, our lives are intertwined with and impact countless others. And as such, what we do or don’t do can change the entire course of others’ lives, and not just our own. George slowly learns this as Clarence shows him, one by one, how so many of George’s life events have affected others, and for the good.
How many times have you thought your book of life would be “written” differently? In the song “Unanswered Prayers,” Garth Brooks famously wrote:
“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”
Sometimes we need a Clarence in our lives to help us see through the dark days and help us know our worth. Sometimes we need a guardian angel to listen to us and to empathize with our deepest fears. Sometimes we need someone to validate why we were put on this earth and how we have made a difference.
In the end, George feels a sense of redemption, rejuvenation, and a resurgence of life. And with that, Clarence officially earns his angel wings–his wingdom into the kingdom, if you will. As for George? His story is not over. His story is worthwhile. His story is a treasure. And so is yours.