Sideways Glances and George Bailey

15 Dec

It happened again. I’m reading Facebook and another friend got engaged. Two more changed their profile pictures to sonograms, effectively telling their entire networks that they are pregnant. In my world where I’m scraping by to make ends meet, I’m newly single and still smarting from the pain, and I keep praying my car can make it to my next paycheck so that I can have that odd smell checked out, my life feels like the beginning to a Jennifer Weiner novel or some other sad, chick-lit tale with an unlikely leading lady. It’s easy to compare my life to other people’s. When I do, everyone has the perfect life without problems. Looking at others’ lives on Facebook can sure make it seem like they live amazing lives. I think that’s what’s ironic about Facebook in that way. It’s supposed to connect people but sometimes the way it plays out, it seems like everyone is putting their best foot forward and not allowed to be real. If they do attempt to be real, people start to worry and write comments like, “Are you okay? Let’s get coffee soon.” Or worse, no one says anything and just lets it play out. I think of my own status updates which have effectively communicated that my life is great and I’m busy doing fabulously important and fun things.

I compare my life to others all of the time, if I’m honest. Especially right now in the hard season that I’m in, I desperately want to figure out WHY things are happening to me, er rather, why they are not happening the way I want in the timely manner that I choose. What happened to my dreams? Why do I frequently feel and wonder if this is as good as it gets? Automatically my thoughts turn to other people. I start to wonder how they got that great husband or this amazing job doing exactly what they love to do and I wonder how it is that I’m dealing with a familiar kind of pain of disappointment AGAIN. What did I do so wrong? I could go on all day. I often do, but I’m trying something new right now.

My pastor, Tom, calls what I’m doing “sideways glancing.” He actually preached a great sermon about it a few weeks ago. He says, “Sideways glances come to steal our gratitude away.” How true. When I’m spending all of this time and energy feeling jealous of other people or taking “sideways glances” at their lives, I’m missing something in the process. I’m forgetting what it is I have that they don’t have. I’m single. Well, that means I have a whole lot of time. Time that I can be devoting to amazing causes, editing my documentary, taking up a new hobby, getting in shape, finally getting around to learning to cook and not being afraid of it, learning to manage my money. People in relationships don’t always have that kind of time. It’s harder for them to juggle everything. I’m scrappy. I have to be right now. I’m resourceful. Somedays I’m stuck, but some times there are these small moments of clarity and I can move again. I’m praying for more of those.

At the end of the day, I believe there has to be a reason for all of this. Sometimes not knowing what that is makes me crazy. And then comes George Bailey. I was watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” again. It’s a movie I could quote the lines to. Even the intonations, I’ve seen it so much. George Bailey becomes a sideways glancer. He forgets all that he has and instead becomes obsessive about the $8000 he’s lost. He forgets his supportive family, all of the friends he’s made, the way he’s changed his town, all of his giftings, even the reason for Christmas! In the moment when George gets it. In that instant when he starts to pay attention to all the things he can be thankful for, even something as small as Zuzu’s petals in his pocket, everything for George changes. He gets a second chance to live life again and this time look closer at what he has and appreciate the small things. Suddenly the Bailey Building and Loan is “wonderful.” Even Mr. Potter, his archnemesis and a constant thorn in George’s side, deserves a boisterous greeting of “Merry Christmas!” Life changes when we stop taking sideways glances and instead appreciate what we’ve been given. In this season, I’m trying to take time to do that. It’s not been easy. Everyday has it’s own challenges. I’m exhausted from a long year. Somedays I can’t see through the fog in front of me and everything feels sad. Saturday night when I watched George Bailey stop and realize how wonderful his life had been, I cried. Not just a couple of tears, but I really cried with all of my heart and soul. Even though I’d seen the movie a million times, something new struck home. I realized George Bailey was like me. Sure his life was messed up. There didn’t seem to be any hope. But then God literally intervened in the form of an angel. So in that moment, I prayed. I said, “God, I may not understand you right now, but I’m going to choose to not take sideways glances at other people’s lives. I don’t want to miss out what you have for me in this moment, in this season of my life. Give me grace as I navigate this whole situation. I need it.”


2 Responses to “Sideways Glances and George Bailey”

  1. T December 15, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    hi sweet girl…re-read 1st samuel 16, it helps me. ’cause i’m ALWAYS, read it again…ALWAYS comparing my insides to other people’s outsides. hence the reason why i hate facebook and am constantly deleting somewhat peripheral friends and they get mad at me for it. i wish i could get myself to delete it all together!

    “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”


  1. How Do I Not Be Awkward Around The Guy I Dated and His New GF Part 2 « Where My Heart Wants To Go - March 14, 2012

    […] of you is triggered and you forget why you broke up in the first place. Or you have a case of “sideways glancing” and you start to do a little romantic revisionist history and suddenly your relationship seems […]

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