Keeping the right perspective is particularly timely and powerful in the midst of the challenges some are facing currently – whether economically, in business, health or other life issues. Now more than ever, everyone needs encouragement and hope along with a gentle reminder of the power of our own perspective. Frank Capra’s classic movie,
“It’s a Wonderful Life” offers just that.
The movie opens with various loved ones offering up prayers for George Bailey (portrayed by Jimmy Stewart) who is at a place of desperation in his life. We then see and hear the dialogue between stars in the heavens, representing angels talking to God. Joseph (the senior angel) and God are talking to Clarence (the apprentice angel) about George Bailey. God tells him “A man down on Earth needs our help.” Clarence says, “Splendid! Is he sick?” “No, worse-he’s discouraged,” Joseph replies. “At exactly 10:45 pm, that man will be thinking seriously of throwing away God’s greatest gift” (meaning his life).
Clarence and George then meet when George is standing on a snow-covered bridge in Bedford Falls contemplating jumping off and ending his life. The whole point of why he’s there is hugely significant. George Bailey’s condition of hopelessness had to do primarily with his economic state. Earlier that day, his Uncle Billy had “lost” a large sum of cash that was intended for deposit for the Bailey Brothers Building and Loan. George knew he could never come up with that money and as a result was facing arrest and prison.
As the movie progresses, Clarence walks George through his life, giving him glimpses of what life would have been like for his family and friends if he hadn’t lived. Mary, his wife (portrayed by Donna Reed) never married so obviously, his children were never born either. His mother was a sad and lonely old woman. His uncle ended up in an insane asylum. His former boss went to prison for twenty years. His brother would have drowned and never been in the Army, which meant he wasn’t able to save his fellow soldiers’ lives.
After this journey with Clarence, only one thing changed that day, but it was the thing that affected everything else-his perspective. His situation was still the same-the missing money, possible arrest and jail time, his wife, children, family, friends and business situation was unchanged-but his perspective toward it all, was completely opposite.
When George stood on the same bridge that he was ready to jump from earlier, he then was praying, asking God “Get me back. I don’t care what happens to me. Get me back to my wife and kids. Help me Clarence, please. I want to live again. I want to live again. Please God, let me live again.”
Just as George Bailey found out, whether we look at our life and say “it’s a wonderful life” or not depends entirely on the perspective we choose.