“Do you know me, Bert?”
I can hear the high pitched voice of Jimmy Stewart, as George Bailey, blurting out the words in one of the final scenes of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The classic holiday film is still a favorite in our house every Christmas season and we love to quote bits from it in our everyday conversation.
I’m not thinking about the feel-good stuff tonight, though. Well, perhaps I am, but it’s a different kind of feel-good stuff. Without going into the plot of the movie too much, let me explain.
The main character, when the quote cited above was delivered, was attempting to determine if his life was going to get back to normal, or if things were still very much awry.
He asked the question and then immediately starting recalling events which had happened before, as if they would prove his existence. Digging in his pocket, he found, with great glee, the petals of a flower his daughter had asked him to fix earlier.
He also wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth and declared, as if it were a discovery that brought great joy, “My mouth’s bleeding, Bert!”
Memories of the past.
They give us a point of reference.
We all want a place at which to shove a finger and declare, “I matter. Because–that!”
I wonder. Do you know me?
Perhaps, if I tell some more stories, the world will know who I am. Like George Baily, my memories are both pleasant and painful. They are a part of who I am. There are, however, many of those memories which I would like for everyone to leave alone. I don’t wish to be defined by those actions which have embarrassed and hurt others.
There are many of those.
No. Perhaps, not the memories.
Maybe, I can find a document or two to show what I’ve accomplished. It might be a diploma that hangs on an office wall to prove achievement in a chosen field, maybe even a certificate of appreciation from folks I’ve helped. It is possible I could turn up a few of those.
Now do you know me?
I suspect that most other people have a few of those, as well. Likely, many more than I. They give a picture, of sorts, of what we’ve accomplished. But, the documents can’t prove where we’ve been and what we’ve learned in the school of life. There may even be a few testimonials that it would be best to leave in the drawer. Not all of them would be glowing and warm.
No. Probably not the achievement awards either.
Oh, all of the above are pieces of who we are, they simply do not give a complete picture of the whole person.
I’m still casting about for that thing to point to–that thing about which I can say, “I matter. Because–that!”
As as I search among my files and papers, my mind suddenly settles upon the very thing!
It seemed that it might be one of those tender moments, one worth recording on the hard drive of my mind. It happened just last Saturday. I was helping to put away the laundry, a task I haven’t always been so vigilant about assisting with.
The Lovely Lady (who may change her mind about me, after reading this), leaned over near me as I picked up a pile of towels and spoke lovingly.
“I want you to know that there is something I really appreciate about you.”
I was ready for the earth-shattering declaration. I guess I finally am getting the hang of this marriage partner thing. I was already patting myself on the back in anticipation of learning the amazing character trait which had attracted her attention.
“What do you appreciate?”
She smiled and said the tender words. “When you take off your tee-shirts, you make sure they’re right side out. It makes doing the laundry so much easier.”
You’re laughing, aren’t you?
I’ll admit, it wasn’t quite what I expected either. But, I want you to know the more I thought about it, the more I understand that this Lady knows me. I get lots of tee-shirts dirty. Running or biking five or six times a week leaves a heap of sweaty, stinky shirts. Also, I’m a geek from way back and I can’t bring myself to wear a button-down shirt without a tee-shirt underneath. Yep. Another heap.
I’ve got to tell you. A reference like that from the person who knows me better than any other human being is worth putting up on a billboard. The small things make a huge difference when laid down, one after another, along the road we walk together.
I’m learning. Baby steps, but I’m learning.
I matter. Because–that!
A young friend introduced his brother to me in the music store today with the words. I argued for a moment. Only for a moment.
He said, “This is the finest man in this town.”
My young friend is, of course, wrong. But then, I remembered that the Lovely Lady thinks so. I do, after all, turn my tee-shirts right-side out before I toss them in the hamper.
I’ll take it.
I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention the most important thing to which we can all point and say those words, but you will, no doubt, already be thinking of the event. Last week, as the group of people with whom I worship met for our Sunday services, we celebrated Communion.
It is a time in which we revisit the last meal the Teacher ate with His followers before His death. The symbolism is powerful and moving every time.
In the grand scheme of things, that event, the death of our Savior, is the one thing at which all of us who believe can point. Together, we can say it, not because we’ve earned it, but because of the enormity of mercy undeserved.
“I matter. Because–that!”
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
(Dr. Seuss ~ American children’s writer ~ 1904-1991)
“God’s mercy and grace give me hope–for myself and for our world.”
(Billy Graham ~ American evangelist/author)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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