Monday, December 19, 2011

It's that time of year - so let's take a part of Christmas past and apply it to Christmas present!

I recently watched It's a Wonderful Life with a few friends, and it really touched me. Here is the story of a man who sacrificed for his family and ended up staying at home his whole life, never even getting to go away to college or travel for his honeymoon or serve overseas in World War II. The movie shows parts of George Bailey's past leading up to the moment when everything seems to be falling apart, and then it turns the viewers' perceptions upside down - or is that right-side up?

What makes this movie so enchanting? It tells the tale of a simple hometown life, lacking in grand adventure and exceptional danger. And yet its authenticity and applicability make it a beautiful story.

  • Authenticity: This story deals with real issues and feelings - anger, frustration, financial problems, low self-esteem, and familial discord. Seeing all the trials that George goes through creates sympathy for his character, helping the viewer to take a walk in his shoes and see what leads him to the lowest point in his life as well as the surprise that comes when George discovers just how important one life can be. When writing stories, we want readers to be able to relate to our characters, understand their difficulties, and become so involved in their lives that the readers experience emotions right alongside the characters. Stories that bring us to tears or cause us to verbally reprimand characters (or cheer them on) are ones that better stick with us than ones that don't demand any sort of response. And I think most writers want to write unforgettable stories!
  • Applicability: It's a Wonderful Life has the message embedded in the title, for it's a story that shows viewers how precious the gift of life really is for a person and all the people that one person's life affects. Simple but profound. While we can't see what the world would be like if we were never born as George did, we can praise God for the glimpses we are given of His amazing weaving of lives and circumstances that ultimately brings Him glory. And as writers, may our stories show God's truth and offer readers a take-away message that can encourage, challenge, and inspire them. The goal isn't to "preach" at readers, but to show them through a well-told story the wonder of God's love.

It's a Wonderful Life is a great example of a story that incorporates authenticity and applicability in order to move and inspire viewers. But while we can learn from the movie regarding the craft of story-telling (whether through movies or books or some other means), we can also learn from the movie regarding the life of a writer (or whatever lifestyle God has called you to embrace).

Perhaps you won't always be able to see the way your work blesses others. Perhaps your work doesn't pay well, or God doesn't lead you in the way you always thought you would go. But no matter what God has in store for us, He is good - and it's a wonderful life!

(Movie cover image from


  1. I think what makes this such a charming story is the development throughout the story of his realisation about what is most important. The fact that it is through his experiences that he comes to that realisation. I really love that movie. It is wonderful to watch.

  2. Lotti,

    Yes, it really is such a well-developed story! :) I agree that it's wonderful to watch - it's one of those movies I think I appreciate a lot more now that I'm a bit older. :)

    Thanks for stopping by, and merry Christmas!


  3. My family and I watch this movie every December. We love it, especially the moment when all of George's friends show up at his house and realizes...truly his life has impacted the lives of others. The fact of the matter is not that George thinks his life was wonderful, but that others did, and that they were grateful for having known him. Ah, what a message!!

  4. Lisa,

    That's sweet! :) And yes, so true - a wonderful message indeed! Brought tears to my eyes this year. :)



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