It’s A Wonderful Life to Learn From

This week’s eNewsletter feature story
is written by Julie Ruchniewicz,
FPCE Parish Nurse.


Dear Friends,

My husband, Mark, is a movie buff. He can quote movie lines, mimic voices of great actors, and even remember what was going on in the world when a certain movie came out.

Every Christmas he gently (maybe not so gently), encourages our family to watch It’s a Wonderful Life together. We gather in the family room, shut off the lights (to create a theater ambiance) and make a bunch of popcorn.

Mark has always loved Jimmy Stewart, and has strived to be just a bit like George Bailey, the movie’s central character. George is driven to succeed, but at his core he is a dreamer, wearing his heart on his sleeve. He is truly devoted to his family, friends, and community.

This past October, our daughter got married. In preparation for the big day, Mark sat down to write his speech to be given at the reception. He thought of what clever and heartwarming advice he could give to Kaitlin and Adam as they moved forward in their lives together. He realized so many of the lessons of life are right there in his favorite Christmas movie.

Here is what he shared:

  • We can do great things when we work together. Power in cooperation is a key theme in the movie. The whole community came to help George when he needed it most.
  • Don’t take your family for granted. Tell the ones you love how you feel and don’t go to bed mad. George didn’t know what he had until he almost lost it.
  • Character speaks louder than cash. While this sometimes difficult, it’s a strong message in the movie, and in life. George’s integrity is more important than making money at the Building and Loan.
  • There will always be Mr. Potters in our life. Put another way, life is sometimes unfair. Mr. Potter is the ruthless, dishonest villain of the movie. He may show up in our lives as an illness, financial hardship, or unfairness in our work. Mr. Potter never changed, but by the end of the movie George no longer gave Potter the power to determine how he judged his own life.
  • Foster relationships. The lovable angel Clarence tells George “No man is a failure who has friends.” Be grateful for the friends that have helped you on your own journey, and look forward to the many friends you have yet to meet.
  • Appreciate how blessed you are. George looked at his current circumstances and believed everything in his life was going wrong. After his experience with Clarence, his whole perspective changed. Family, friends, and faith rose up above the chaos he was experiencing.
  • Your life has purpose. George wasn’t aware that so many things would have been different without him in the world. We, too, seldom know the impact we have on others. Our lives are made up of small daily opportunities to serve, help or influence people. Put together, that makes a bigger difference than we can ever possibly measure.

Mark thoughtfully shared with our daughter, her new husband, and the wedding guests these few messages drawn from this classic Christmas movie, but I am sure we could find many more. Sometimes it is easier to learn when we have a framework for the lesson. In this movie, we discover as George discovers.

I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. And remember, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

Peace and Merry Christmas to each of you!

Julie Ruchniewicz
FPCE Parish Nurse