Is Your’s a Wonderful Life?

This Christmas we started a new tradition–watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. A classic.

I cried throughout. Despite the positive title, it revolves around situations, people, and events that keep George Bailey from the life he’s always dreamed of. And to top it off, a seemingly impossible crisis finds George a very desperate man.

Many people have been there, or will be some day. What makes life worth living? And how can we follow our dreams?

Here are two key factors:  God and being intentional.

I believe God makes life worth living because he gives me unconditional love, forgiveness, true freedom, purpose, and a hope for the future. And in turn, I can share those with others. Do we really have those things without God?

We can’t always plan how our lives are going to go. Look at George Bailey:  Nothing seemed to be turning out the way he wished, but he was a happy man in the end. At the same time, the dreams we have for our lives won’t happen unless we are intentional with how we live. For example, say you want to be a famous painter, but you spend every spare minute watching TV. A few years later, those hours watching TV haven’t brought you a single step closer to being that famous painter. (You might be able to tell I’ve been reading Quitter, by Jon Acuff)

So. New Year’s Day, I will be working my way through Michael Hyatt‘s Creating Your Personal Life Plan. That is my first step toward being intentional with my life.

What’s your plan for New Year’s Day….or your life?

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Learning Lessons Through Pet Peeves

A couple Sundays ago our pastor had everyone fill out a form. One question was, “What is your pet peeve?” At the time, I couldn’t come up with anything, so I left it blank.

The rest of the week I was reminded, daily, what my pet peeve is:  people not using their turn signal. Maybe you think it’s silly. But it drives me nuts. Too many times I’ve had to slam on my brakes or jump out of the way (while running) because I didn’t know the vehicle would be turning. What seems even more ridiculous to me is when a driver gets mad that I’m in their way, but they have given no indication they plan to change direction. Anyway, enough venting. Time to hit the real reason I’m writing this post.

One of the days I got cut off without warning, the thought popped into my head:  Laura, you don’t know why they did that. Um, okay. Then all the possibilities flooded my mind. Yeah, some people are just rude or don’t care. But what about the person who just received devastating news? What about the person who’s life is in shambles? What about the person who’s hurrying to the emergency room? What about the person who’s trying to make it to an injured or dying friend or family member? What about the person contemplating taking their own life? What about the person who’s just plain miserable? Those people…those people are less aware of their surroundings.

Then I thought about the Sunday after, when pastor shared a list of people’s pet peeves. Two of them stuck in my mind:  when people don’t say hi or when people don’t make eye contact. Most of my life I didn’t do either of those. It wasn’t because I didn’t care about others or thought it was okay to be rude. It was because I believed I was worthless. I was not worthy of others noticing me. I was not good enough for someone to want me as a friend. Those beliefs kept me from interacting.

When I was able to piece together the negative cycle my actions and others’ perceptions created, I realized how devastating our pet peeves can be. How devastating my pet peeves can be.

Since then, I have worked to alter my attitude on the road. I have hung farther behind the car in front of me, to let others in as we pass construction. And I noticed something strange. Even though I opened up an easy opportunity, cars still passed. And because of the construction, I would catch up to them while they’re trying to cut in. It reminded me that sometimes we are so focused on where we think we should be or want to be, we miss the simple opportunities God holds out for us. Don’t miss those opportunities.

How do you view the world?