It Truly Is a Wonderful Life
As a child, I never understood the appeal of the old black-and-white film It’s a Wonderful Life. My mother would watch it every Christmas season without fail, and invariably it would bring a tear to her eye. Maybe I lacked the capacity for introspection needed to understand the film’s message. Maybe I just needed to experience life a little more.
As I have aged, I have grown to love and appreciate the story of George Bailey. Like my mother, I now watch it annually. I watch because the film stirs my emotions and shows me just how wonderful life really is. I watch so that I can be reminded that my life can have an impact on others, and I watch to remember the impact that others have had on me.
We may never get a glimpse at what the world would be like without us, but we can thank those who have made a lasting mark on our lives. Some people, like George Bailey, who saved his younger brother from drowning, affect our lives in grand ways. More commonly, however, people change us simply by caring and sharing their hearts. Some people shape us in ways they never realize.
I think back to my time in Mrs. Kunst’s second grade class. Her kindness and devotion made me love going to school, and she inspired me to read and read some more. Mr. Dan McClain’s loud and gregarious personality brought the story of Beowulf to life in English Literature. As he wielded his sword and pounded on the tables as if we were in a mead hall, he taught me to appreciate literature.
Yet, despite the best efforts of my teachers, I was not an accomplished student. After high school, I floundered at community college and eventually dropped out. As I was laboring aimlessly in a dead-end job, it was another teacher, Mr. Eric Smith, who inspired me to go back to college. Were it not for the bond we had formed while I was in school and his words of encouragement, I never would have gone to Missouri Southern State University, his alma mater. I never would have met my wife. I would not have had the opportunity to let the seeds Mrs. Kunst and Mr. McClain planted come into bloom. And I certainly would not be where I am today.
Like my appreciation of It’s a Wonderful Life, my understanding of how important these people were to me took time to develop. Indeed, it wasn’t until much later that I realized the impact they had on me. The influence of a great teacher often works this way.
This holiday season, I hope you will take a few moments to thank the friends, family, pastors, and teachers who have helped make you who you are.