Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It Really IS A Wonderful Life

by Jennifer AlLee

I'm following in the footsteps of my pal, Lisa, and venturing over into the world of movies. Because, honestly, I can't let the holiday season go by without tipping my hat to that perennial favorite, It's A Wonderful Life.

If you're not familiar with the story, you were probably in a coma for the last 65 years. But just in case... here's the rundown of the 1946 movie. Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a good-hearted man who spends his life yearning to get out of the tiny community of Bedford Falls. George has big plans, wants to travel, see the world. But every time he gets close, something happens to hold him back. Finally, things get so bad that George contemplates suicide. That's when a clumsy angel named Clarence comes into the picture and shows George what the world would be like if he'd never been born. By the end, George realizes that his life hasn't been a failure. Far from it. He is rich in all the things that matter, and his family and friends are all better for knowing him.

To some, this movie is the epitome of schmaltz and corniness. But I love it. I love the black and white simplicity. I love the heartfelt performances by Stewart and his love interest, Donna Reed. And I love that it hits the core of the human condition: We all want to know that our lives matter.

Because he couldn't escape life in a small town, George Bailey saw his life as small. But so many of his actions had big, far reaching results. When his brother, Harry, fell through the ice as a child and George pulled him out, he didn't just save his brother's life. One day, Harry would fight in the war and win the medal of honor for saving the lives of countless soldiers. By saving Harry, George also saved the lives of all those men. Like ripples on a pond, the moments of George's life spread out, touching people he would never meet.

The movie is fiction, but it communicates a powerful truth. All of us matter. God has a purpose for each one of us. Our lives are measured not just in what we achieve, but in how we touch others. I can guarantee that you have done (or will do) something this week, that will change someone's life. It will seem insignificant to you, of no importance in the grand scheme of things. You may never see the result and know how important it was. But that doesn't matter. You've made your mark on the world.

It really is a wonderful life. Live it. Enjoy it. Savor it.

 JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her first novel, The Love of His Brother, was released by Five Star Publishers in November 2007. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, was released by Abingdon Press in February 2010. Her next two novels are The Mother Road (April 2012) and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (November 2012), both from Abingdon Press. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Visit Jennifer's website at


  1. Well as one who just attended the It's a Wonderful Life Festival in Bedford Falls I have to agree. My granddaughter couldn't go on the horse drawn wagon ride because the horse was sick. And I stepped in dog doo but it was a glorious sunny and cold day in Bedford Falls.
    Isn't that just what life is? Taking all the good and bad and seeing the big picture. You're so right about how our lives are so woven together that we can never know the extent any action will ultimately have.
    "wonderful" post.

  2. Oh and ithis is the 65th anniversary this year.

  3. As writers, I'm sure it will be cool someday to meet the people we touched and never knew about.

  4. I love the movie, too, Jen. I cry (read: sob) every single time I watch it. Such a needed reminder that while our lives might seem insignificant to us, God's view of our lives is so often completely different. Like Dina, I look forward to hearing someday how my life touched another in ways I wasn't aware--and to tell stories to others of the impact they've perhaps unknowingly had on me.

  5. It's almost cliche to say that teachers touch students' lives long after they leave the classroom, but it's true. I can think of a few teachers who impacted my life (still).

    I think it's because encouragement is something we can give so easily and yet not realize its impact. Our God-given desire to write provides an obvious opportunity, and your published work does exactly that, ladies! (Jen, Dina and Anne)

  6. Good morning, ladies! Deb, I'm jealous... would love to go to Bedford Falls! Maybe one day...

    Anne, ditto the sobbing! I must keep a box of Kleenex beside me when watching IAWL, even though I know exactly what will happen.

    Dina, I am constantly amazed at how God uses our work to bless others. I've gotten a few emails from readers that made me think, "If she was the ONLY one who was touched by my words, then the book is a success."

  7. What a great summation of the whole reason this movie continues to resonate. I think it's something that all real classics tap into-they explore an aspect of universal need.

    I usually watch this one alone. The kids are too young to appreciate it and my husband teases me for crying (yep I do it too!) So it's one Christmas best done just me and my popcorn.

  8. (Sheepish, red-faced) I've never seen the whole movie. I know! I know! (I'm ducking b/c you guys are throwing popcorn at me.)

    I know I need to. Maybe this year.

    I loved the post, Jen, despite my lack of first-hand experience. Thanks.

  9. Next on my netflix list is Christmas in Connecticut. Yay.


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