Why I Want To Be Like George Bailey When I Grow Up

Why I Want To Be Like George Bailey When I Grow Up

As a fan of the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, I’ve always wondered: Why didn’t George Bailey just go?

It would have been so easy.

After his father died, I wanted George to walk out of that board meeting with Mr. Potter, catch his train to college, and never look back. I knew his dreams would die in that one-horse town.

Later, I wanted him to get into the “ground floor” of plastics with Sam Wainwright (hee-haw!) and make millions.

I wanted him and Mary to head off on that honeymoon and see the world, instead of saving the Savings and Loan. I just hated seeing George give up every last one of his hopes, even though he was doing the “right” thing.

To our logical, achievements-oriented culture, George Bailey does looks like the failure crochety Mr. Potter always said he was.

He gave up college, travel, and investment and career opportunities. He chose — albeit, reluctantly, at times — to live modestly and help others. His seemingly small choices to react with kindness and do the right thing, one day at a time, added up to a major impact. George wasn’t even aware of what he’d accomplished until he got the gift of seeing what his town would be like without him. {And, it was not pretty.}

What if we could be people whose easy grace and heart generosity positively changed the course of others’ lives?

What if we endeavored — one smile, one call, one well-placed God-intervention at a time — to change the world? <<—Click to tweet!

As I sat in my “pretty room” {the living room — the one we keep somewhat toy- and clutter-free} this fall, I began to see some disconnected puzzle pieces coming together. I started to perceive how some things I’d said or done were starting to change lives around me positively. I began to imagine how God could use the connections made in my home on Wednesday nights {as I hosted and led a women’s Bible study}. I marveled at how each woman in my living room needed this group, at this moment in their lives, in some specific way.

I saw a difficult family situation, years in the making, beginning to crack open, light radiating through the hairline that became a crevice that became a chink that became a chunk. I witnessed God in the process of breaking that hard, dark problem wide open, and I, amazingly had played a {small} role.

What if this is my new God-sized dream? I thought.

What if I can be like George Bailey?

What if I can become someone who would be missed?

What if I can become someone who changes my community, my family {or even my world} in small but vital ways?


In fall 2012, when I gave up a part-time career as well-paid freelance writer, I often felt like the George Mr. Potter saw — a sap who gave up a perfectly good opportunity. Why would I quit my paying writing gig to write for free (i.e., blog)?

When I talked about why I stopped the writing that pays for the writing that plays, I often relied on common-sense … you know, the busyness of life with three young kids, my middle child’s autoimmune disease, that sort of thing.

And, while these reasons sounded valid, I shied from talking about my true motivation. I found it difficult to explain my new pay scale. I found it hard to talk about this new currency, paid in meaning, feeling, authenticity.

I couldn’t explain how rich I have become in seeking God with a real hunger and writing my soul bare.

Yet, there are days, or weeks, where I miss feeling important, earning a real paycheck, being sought for my skill and experience {rather than being the eternal new kid on the blogging/publishing block}. I’m the grumpy George Bailey, who sees the world passing me by and buys into the lie that I have nothing to show for my honest labor.

My dreams — even the new, God-sized variety — still tend to be about action, activity, and production. Open an Etsy shop, write a book, build my blog. Well, friends, the Etsy shop mostly hangs out for window shoppers; the book proposal and chapter one are written, while I convince myself I will never have the platform to publish a nonfiction book; and every effort to build my blog is met by God’s firm but quiet insistence that I trust Him and write, just write — not scheme, not promote, not complicate.

So, here I am, on the eve of 2014 and I hear Immanuel, God with us.

As I enter the new year, I’ll be writing more and worrying less.

I’ll be inviting God to sit next to me, instead of ignoring Him as He looks over my shoulder.

I’ll be bringing the Bible study ladies back into my pretty room, as we delve into a new book in mid-January.


When George Bailey considered taking his own life, he was tired, bitter, frustrated. He got stuck on the dream he started out with and didn’t realize his dream had changed. Over time, slowly, his dream had become helping others, raising a family, loving his wife, enjoying the company of dear friends — only, he didn’t realize it. He had been taking small steps his whole life long, tiny, incremental movements that, combined, made a huge difference in the lives of those around him.

And, I think, on some level, that’s happened to me too. I began God-sized dreaming with some very specific goals in mind — small and specific. And, while they were good goals, I’ve ended up somewhere different. I’ve ended up with a list of to-be’s, rather than to-do’s:

I want to be someone who makes an positive impact on the lives of those around me.

I want to be someone who would be missed.

I want to be someone who helps others transform their lives.

What about you? How has the last year changed you? What are your goals moving forward?

 Linking up today with the dreamers at http://godsizeddreams.com/:


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  1. Love this friend and so blessed to know you!!
    Kristin Smith recently posted..Better Than I Imagined….My Profile

  2. I’m a huge fan of It’s a Wonderful Life, too, and I love where you took this post. Most of all, I love your heart, and I look forward to the day when we can share a chat over coffee. You have made a difference to me, and this community wouldn’t be the same without you! Thank you for being wonderful you! Love you, friend! 🙂

  3. I read your post and then prayed so hard Beth; all-out-praying with my eyes shut tight, jaw clenched, trying to squeeze-and-send what’s in my heart to you:) I prayed that you would keep stepping into who God made you to be (because I love her so much and she is awesome!), and that you will trust the impact you have, and that you will really feel and trust what a blessing you are to me and so many others. I am so grateful to have such a good friend; you are a Godsend. You couldn’t possibly be more missed:) xo
    Beth recently posted..Set of Three Burp Cloths for a baby boy camouflage by GraceInAbundanceMy Profile

  4. It’s beautiful how God has been moving in your heart this past year…and so beautiful how you have impacted my life. Thank you, friend!
    Mandy recently posted..Things I Learned While Dreaming in 2013 {A Freedom Reflection}My Profile

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