Poking Holes in the Darkness

The 1947 Frank Capra Classic, It’s A Wonderful Life, made its Holiday seasonal return to the small screen this past December. If you haven’t seen the movie lately, I encourage you to download the movie. It’s always a wonderful time to see It’s A Wonderful Life.

As some of you remember, this movie fantasy is the story of a small-town banker whose attempt at suicide is foiled by his guardian angel. Frustrated, the banker laments that the world would be a better place if he had never been born.

This gives the guardian angel (named Clarence) an idea. With a nod of his head, he announces to the banker, “You’ve been given a great opportunity–a gift–to see what the world would be like if you had never been born.”  The rest, of course, is movie history.

The message of this film is forever timely. It reminds us that each life is connected in one manner or another to every other life. And, as John Donne said so long ago, “No man is an island.” We are reminded that everything that exists is accounted for–every hair on our head is numbered, nothing is valueless or irrelevant. The existence of each and every one of us is intentional and important.

Because our world is so big and our universe so vast, it may seem sometimes that no single life can be all that valuable. Yet, precisely because our world is so big and needy, each life becomes all the more important. Our lives have unique significance.

Life has a way of preparing each of us specifically for our role in the grand scheme of existence. If we were all as useless, insignificant and replaceable as we sometimes believe, how could the grandeur of God’s desire for our lives ever be realized? Without you and me, who would sow the seeds, turn the soil, water the seedlings and encourage the growth?

Consider Two Thoughts

  1. Ponder how your life was enhanced by some significant “other”–a parent, sibling, teacher, minister, neighbor or family relative. Their contributions to your life continue to shape you in invisible ways. Consider how your life would have been different had they never been born. As people contribute to your life, they return a portion of the sacrificial investment others made for them.
  2. Consider how the lives of others would be altered if you had never been born.  Each person makes a direct or indirect impact upon the lives of those they contact. Who would not be here today if you did not exist? What impact have those you raised had upon the lives of others? How much suffering would not have been relieved? What work was accomplished that would not have been done in the same way that you accomplished it? Don’t minimize your uniqueness.

In the movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, Clarence had only advanced to the rank of “Angel, Second Class.” However, he offered this first-class summation: “Each person’s life touches so many lives that when he or she isn’t around, it leaves quite a hole.”

As you reflect on the turns your life has taken in the past year and plot your course for 2017, give some thought to the ways you directly contribute to the lives of others.

As you reflect on the turns your life has taken in the past year and plot your course for 2017, give some thought to the ways you directly contribute to the lives of others.

For example, you contribute to another’s life when you:

…learn to overcome what troubles you.

…become increasingly more mature, disciplined and accountable.

…become an inspiration to others as they witness your change.

…reach out in meaningful support to others.

…teach others, who ask, what 
have you learned?

…support the efforts of others who 
make an effort to support you.

In a variety of ways, you make indirect contributions to the lives of people you may not even know.

John Jolliffe, a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, is Co-Executive Producer of the Award Winning Children’s Show Mack & Moxy, seen daily in 100 million homes on PBS and Netflix. Learn more at MackandMoxy.com. For more of Jolliffe’s articles, visit JohnJolliffe.com