For some reason as I was waking up this morning, I got to thinking of the movie It's a Wonderful Life. In this Christmas classic, George Bailey is on the brink of suicide until an angel shows him the impact his lifetime of kindness has had on his family and community.
This in turn made me think of all of the wonderful people in my life who have been so kind to me. I can go back and thank many of them, but there are those who are a only brightened spot in the hazy recesses of my memories. Whoever and whenever, they weren't serving for recognition, but because they saw a need and an opportunity to contribute toward the greater good in some small or big way. They make a difference. You make a difference. I wrote about this in my poem Your Kindness Gave Me Courage.
I try to do the same. Sometimes it is in such mundane ways - like remembering to pick up a pack of colored pencils for a child's project, or thanking a store worker by name, or sending a web link with helpful information to a friend, or bringing a bottle of cold water over to a sick lady in the urgent care clinic's waiting room while I'm sitting there waiting with one of my own kids. Sometimes it's a much bigger deal.
So anyway, as I was thinking of writing a Grateful Grace blog post on this concept, I thought of that obvious title, "It's a Wonderful Life!" and then I thought again. If I didn't already know the context, frankly, I'd be a bit put off by it. Too much Pollyanna-rose-colored-glassy-stuff.
You see, I'm in one of those long seasons of life where everything seems (much more than) a bit of a struggle. To be honest, I often feel resentful if I read a blog post by someone whose life seems to be going oh so smoothly because they have it all oh so together. And of course they have all the answers. Do this and you'll have the perfect family and the beautiful home - just like them. Blerg.
But then I realize that probably some people feel the same way about me when they read my blog. Because they don't know everything. They don't know my drama, my heartache. I try to be honest and authentic in sharing my life stories, but there's only so much you can say. (You can read more about that here: On Mommy Blogging: Image, Identity, Authenticity and Freedom.)
Hence the question marks at the end of my blog post title.
Because at times, life can suck.
I do the best I can to find the deeper meaning and savor the sweeter moments, to keep learning and growing. I do my best to get up and try again when I feel inadequate or when the rug gets pulled from under my feet by circumstances. I do my best to admit my need and ask for help from God and others when I'd really rather they think I can do it all, do it all well, and do it all by myself. I do my best to recycle my tough experiences into compassion for others. All that is what keeps me going.
It's not always a wonderful life in terms of what happens to be happening at the moment.
But it is a wonderful life in that it is filled with a sense of wonder in the midst of it all.
So here's the "wonderful life" challenge for all of us.
Seek out whatever is lovely and good in your life, and dwell there. (The grace of God is a wonderful place to start.) Then use that positive power to start working out whatever isn't already working for you.
Think about the people who have made a difference in your life, and thank them whenever you can. It might just make them want to do something kind for someone else, too.
Look for opportunities to "pay it forward" and be a blessing to others. Some will be carefully planned, others random and spontaneous. Always be ready with a smile and a kind word, even for strangers. It may be the only genuine cheer they have all day and you just might tip their teeter-totter life in the right direction.
Have wonderful life, will you? It's sort of contagious like that.
P.S. Why the marigolds at the top of this post? Because they're pretty. My purple mums are still in recovery, and I bought these cheery flowers to fill my garden with fresh autumn color. And I splurged and bought myself a new real camera (I needed a flash for my tableau pictures that my iPod couldn't handle - and photography brings me joy!), and I think the effect is rather stunning, if I may say so myself.
P.P.S. The other posts in this series: Grateful Grace #1: Thankfulness and Grateful Grace #2: "Broken Hallelujah" and the Story Behind the Song
P.P.P.S. Oh, more!