Monday, December 8, 2008

Its a Wonderful Life

ok, i have decided that there isn't a clear direction with what u r about to read. it started out with this random thought about feeling as opposed to just touching and somewhere along the line it took a detour and meandered down this other path of how we treat others and how they then perceive themselves because of how we treat them, and eventually wandered back onto the intended path. honestly, sometimes my mind gets from point A to point B but doesn't take the most direct route. and maybe that's just the way papa made me -- all weird like that -- and u can take what u want from this -- or not take it at all and i certainly won't be offended in any way, shape, or form.

ever since i was a little kid my all time favorite christmas movie was 'It's a Wonderful Life" with jimmy stewart and donna reed. its a very unlikely christmas movie in the traditional sense except that the climax of the movie happens at Christmas time and there is a moral to the story.

at any rate, if u haven't seen the movie the basic premise is about a guy who decides to end it all because his life has seemingly been one bad break after another on his way to the dream he had. i won't give the ending away completely for those who haven't seen it, but i'll tell u now that u probably should see it -- its an old black and white film and its worth the nickel to buy or rent (i just got a DVD of it last year for like $10 and it included a copy of 'White Christmas' as well -- another favorite of mine but not THE favorite). usually around this time of year one of the stations will show it -- if not a few -- its one of those "classics".

i digress -- i never understood y i liked this film because the beginning is depressing and kind of traumatic in certain places (although no blood, guts, or gore like u will see in films of today). but probably what attracted me to it initially was the fact that in the film the angel's name is Clarence -- and my grandpa's name was Clarence. the other thing was that as i got older, i could really relate to george bailey's (the main character) plight because it seemed that often my plans for my life were unexpectedly altered by one bad break after another. still, the end of george's movie was always the same, never altered (obviously) and so there was reason to hope that perhaps things could change for me. u know -- that typical hollywood ending kind of thing.

one of the things that george discovers upon "revisiting" his life during the progression of the movie, is that he did things that helped others, doing things that other ppl either couldn't or wouldn't do, and if it hadn't been for him a lot of ppl would have had a different outcome in their life. because he touched other ppl, it changed their life outcome. he could feel their need and so, because he took a chance and stepped out and did what was needed -- others had better lives for it.

i got to thinking about this when i listened to this dumb kleenex commercial on tv the other day (touch, touch, touch, touch, feel). if u don't know which one i mean, wait a minute and i'm sure it will be on the tube at some point for u to see. at any rate, this thought process was then cemented firmly in place when i heard kris vallotton talk one sunday evening about the redwood trees. he explained (and here's one of those random facts that i'll probably store away in my brain and pull out from time to time to use in equal randomness) that redwood trees don't have very deep roots. instead, their roots spread out all about them from all sides and intermingle with other trees' roots. because they r so intricately interlaced with each other, if u remove the wrong tree from the forest -- then the next time a strong wind comes along it will knock down a bunch of trees around the tree that was removed. they are so dependent upon each other that their basic survival depends upon the trees around them.

so let's take this to the next level with the touch touch feel kleenex commercial. how many ppl do we, on a daily basis touch touch touch and yet never "feel" them. ok, i'm not talking physically here, in a dirty get ur mind out of the gutter fashion. i'm talking about feeling another person's pain or need. i get upset sometimes with myself because i see ppl and can sense that something is wrong and yet sometimes do nothing about it because of fear -- fear of being laughed at or making a mistake in my assessment or -- here's a good one -- rejection. but its much more than that -- how many times do i pass someone on the street who probably is hungry or homeless and i do nothing about it -- out of fear. would u bring a homeless person into ur home and feed them?? my mom did -- on more than one occasion and she even allowed me to do it when i was little. its what i grew up with, but in this day and age -- yeah, not so much. yet that is what christ asked us to do -- when we stand before god on judgement day -- we will be asked -- how many did u feed, clothe, house, undo the chains of injustice? how many of his ppl will u have intertwined ur life with to the point of knowing a need, and fulfilling it?

i'm not the only one -- i know that for a fact. and i hate seeing wasteful spending -- especially gobs of money like this recent bailout thing -- because i know that thousands of homeless and hungry ppl could be helped with that money. there r some ppl who say, well its just a drop in the bucket -- it really wouldn't help all that many ppl -- but how many ppl do u think we could house and feed for even say $300,000? or a million? its not a drop in the bucket to those ppl and for one small instance in time we made a difference in someone's life and maybe that's enough to turn things around for them. i know that self-esteem takes time to rebuild -- but someone taking a chance and stepping out at the right moment can mean the world to someone in need. my feeling is if u treat ppl like trash, they can only feel and act like that -- but if u treat them as if they have a value, a worth -- they will start to feel that way about themselves and will start to pull themselves up. but this society has a way of treating those who r down and out like they deserve to be there -- and it does nothing to help them get out of their unfortunate place in life. george bailey could say that he had helped ppl pull themselves up -- he treated them as ppl of worth.

if christ came to ur door asking for bread and shelter -- would u recognize him?? would u let him in? if he came into ur church -- would u know it was him?? what if he was dressed in rags and smelled badly -- would u know it was him then?? and what would u do?? would u shoo him out the door because he didn't belong in ur nice neat tidy little church with the appropriately dressed ppl?

is my life like the redwood -- intricately woven with other trees around me? because i know that there r ppl that i've connected with over the years who have helped me tremendously through bad patches in my life -- emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually -- that i will be forever indebted to. their presence is so intricately woven into the fabric of my own life as to be so tangible in many of the daily things i do. i can do those things and clearly, in my mind's eye, see the times i spent with those ppl who were influential in that way.

my mom's legacy was that she touched and felt ppl -- all the time. she did stuff -- what i would consider extraordinary stuff -- that helped others in really wonderful ways. some of that stuff i never heard about until after she passed away, but a lot of it i experienced with her and her influence is woven into my life in an enormous way. she was never a 'sunday christian' -- she was a christian in the truest sense of the word -- she fed the hungry, took in the homeless, clothed the naked -- she gave of what little she had to help others -- she would sit and talk with ppl who were in trouble and help them to make sound decisions about where to go next. she was intricately woven into other ppls' lives. and to some extent, they were woven into her's.

i want to touch and feel. i want to do the kind of "fasting" that the lord requires -- Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 -- he's put that on my heart so much in the last year. i want a "wonderful life" in papa god, and i want others to have that as well. i want to be able, when i die, to stand before papa and look back over my life and see the places where i have helped change (in a positive way) the outcome of someone else's life. i want to be intricately woven in to the lives of the ppl i've been around and know that i had a hand in helping them continue to stand. i want george bailey's wonderful life. what do u want??

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