In the film, It’s a Wonderful Life, as George Bailey’s living room is flooded with friends, he is left a most special gift by his guardian angel, Clarence. Inside the pages of a favorite book, Clarence writes:
“Remember no man is a failure who has friends.
Thanks for the wings!
At that moment, George hears the bell ringing on his Christmas tree. He looks up towards heaven and winks, then he smiles as he embraces his family.
As I re-watch the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, I’m reminded of so many things. However, this particular scene sparked an age-old question:
What is a friend?
Our Wall of Friends
In our home, we have a playroom off of our kitchen where the boys assemble and disassemble, create and destroy, play and fight. At Christmas-time, we always display our Christmas cards over the arch of the playroom entrance—an idea we stole from a dear family friend.
I’ll often spend a few minutes looking at the cards, reliving special memories with the friends in each picture, and praying for their families. In the busyness of life, it is a small token to remember those whom I call, friend.
That’s a unique word. Friends come in all shapes and sizes with varying familiarity. In all honesty, with the onslaught of social media, I think it may have diluted many of our friendships. With constant digital engagement, the need to actually talk to people has been reduced. At the same time, social media gives us the unique privilege to engage with some friends whom we might not otherwise see.
And like the seasons, these friends come and go. Whether by death or distance or circumstance, these folks are in our lives for a time, only to fade into the memories of tomorrow.
However, there’s one characteristic of friendship that I’ve come to cherish. As I think back to my favorite Christmas movie, I’m reminded:
Friends help us get our wings.
There are times in life when we don’t feel cut out for flying. In those moments, we doubt that we were created to soar. And that’s where friends come in.
Friends engage with us. Friends invest in us. Friends challenge us. Friends care for us. They stand alongside us, yet they’ll run out ahead and blaze a trail. They don’t have to share our journey or our passions, yet they care enough to ask. When we talk, they listen.
Friends hold up pictures of who we’d hope to become and mirrors to show us who we really are.
This Christmas, I am grateful for my friends. In the coming year, I hope to continually learn what it means to become a better friend. For now, I will smile as I walk through my home and see their pictures on our wall.
And I will pray that, in some way, I can help them get their own set of wings because they have certainly helped me get mine.
Can you think of a time when a friend has helped you get your wings?