How The Wizard of Oz and Clarence the Angel Lied To Us

Clarence the Angel and George Bailey recover after George’s suicide attempt in It’s A Wonderful Life

The Wizard of Oz told Dorothy, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.” Clarence the Angel told George Bailey, “Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends.”

My Darling Child,

This is a terrible lie, and yet the world around us exalts it as a Gospel truth. Nevertheless, some of the greatest and most self-sacrificing heroes and heroines of history have loved deeply, served others, yet were hated by all those around them.

Consider Jesus Christ, who devoted his life to ministering to others, yet He was imprisoned, tortured, mocked, and crucified alongside criminals.

Consider Martin Luther King Jr., whose belief that people should “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” got him assassinated.

Consider the “nerdy” or “weird” girl who is snubbed by her peers because she doesn’t wear the provocative clothes that they do and aspires to remain a virgin until she’s married.

Never, ever, EVER measure your value – or the value of anyone else – by how much they are loved. Never judge anyone because they’re not popular, or because others shun them. Sometimes the best, bravest, and most shining spirits among us are those who do not bow to the fancy and folly of friends, but stand up courageously for what is good and right, even if they are persecuted for it.

Sometimes the poor, sick, abused, and needy are not shunned because they’re unworthy of love, but because no one around them wants to be burdened by their pain.

Always remember, My Darling Child, to seek out those who are shunned, unpopular, or persecuted either for doing what is right or because they are suffering. Human beings may tend to judge others by how much they are loved, but God sees the heart! Be God-like in your affection.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’”
1 Samuel 16:7

“’Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’”
Matthew 5:3-12

My Darling Child, do not be sad when they are cruel to you; when people avoid you, lie about you, mock you, and don’t understand you.

God does not judge your heart by how much you are loved by people; but by how much you are loved by His Son.

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, loved you so very much that He died on the cross so that you could live with Him forever. Shine that love to others. Never let it flicker, even if others are offended by its purity and brightness.

Never Regret Anything

Sorrowing Old Man (‘At Eternity’s Gate’), by Vincent van Gogh, 1890.

My Darling Child,

I have many regrets. I regret things I’ve done, things I’ve said, things I haven’t done – but most of all – I regret things that have happened to me. Part of this is because my childhood was filled with abuse and dysfunction, but I suspect that most people feel this way too. We all have dreams about how life is supposed to be, and so often we are disappointed.

Hurtful words and selfish actions can cause us to regret, but many times the things we regret the most are “what might have been.” Maybe looking back, we would have picked a different college degree, or called someone we loved one last time before they unexpectedly passed away. Maybe we regret buying something that didn’t turn out to be a good investment, or an innocent slip of the tongue embarrassed a friend or hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe we married someone who – in one way or another – wasn’t the kind of person we thought they were.

Many people will tell you not to have regrets. What they usually mean is, “Let the past live in the past. Everyone makes mistakes, so move on, and don’t worry about it.”

But can we really in good conscience not feel pangs of remorse for the bad or foolish things we’ve done? How can we not regret choices we’ve made – even those that seemed wise and good at the time – which changed our lives forever in ways we didn’t want?

My Darling Child, rest your heart in God’s sovereignty. Before the beginning of time, God knew you. He knew your strengths and your weaknesses, your challenges and your best attributes. He knew every mistake and sin you’d ever commit, and yet, He loved you!

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:16

You see, God is a master-planner. He didn’t just design you and then step back to see what would happen. He is actively invested in you. In fact, He has invested His beloved Son’s very lifeblood in you! So never doubt that God has a plan for everything, even the things that you feel regretful about. In His wisdom, He foresaw every decision and happenstance – both good and bad – and in His mercy and providence He planned to bring about redemption through them all.

Even the worst atrocities of the wicked are used by God to bring about His sovereign plan. Remember Judas, and how he betrayed Christ. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do. Nevertheless, He courageously allowed Himself to be led like a sheep to the slaughter, so that – at the proper place, in the perfect time – the centurion would declare, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39.

If God can use Judas’ infamous sin for His redemptive work, He can certainly use the sins of his children! Remember the three denials of Peter, and the violent reputation of Paul before he was saved.

All this is not to say that we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes, or avoid and despise sin, but we can find peace knowing that God’s righteous plan will come to fulfillment regardless of how badly we stumble. We can take comfort knowing that we are sinners, just like the very greatest saints of the Gospel, and we are demonstrating to the world that Jesus is powerful to save.

The next time you regret hurting someone’s feelings, think about what God has given you; the opportunity to repent, humble yourself, apologize, and demonstrate God’s redemptive work in your heart. The next time you make a decision that doesn’t turn out the way you planned, remember that it turned out exactly the way God planned. Pray, and be drawn closer to God through your struggles and uncertainty. Wherever life takes you, witness to those around you, and above all, find joy – not regret – in the opportunity.

God is sovereign, and God is good. He planned for it all, and He’s working through you – even on your toughest days – to bring about His will. Never look over your shoulder and regret the hazards God has guided you through. Instead, marvel at the beauty of His grace for guiding you through the hazards.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:15-17

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20

Don’t Be Afraid When They Love You Imperfectly

by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

My Darling Child,

As I grow older, I have come to realize that love is a very rare and misunderstood thing. There are many people who will tell you that they love you who really don’t. Sometimes, such people are liars. Other times, they simply do not know what love is, or how to express it properly. There are also people, such as family members, who know that they’re supposed to love you, so they pretend that they do, but when you get in the way of their pride, selfishness, or desires, the true nature of their feelings is exposed.

I will always love you for as long as I am able, but even I – your parent – am an imperfect being. I may not always be around to tell you that you are loved. Someday, I may be too sick or weak to love you in the way that you deserve. Someday, I will die.

Do not be afraid when those you trust – those you love – love you imperfectly. Our hearts spiral towards entropy; friends lose touch, parents grow old, siblings quarrel, leaders betray, and husbands and wives fail one another continually.

When I was a child, my father did not love me. To some, that may seem like a shocking or unusual statement, but there are many, many fathers who do not love their children.

My father was abusive. He was addicted to his own anger and inflicting fear made him feel powerful and in control. In his private time, he collected pornography, and found secretive ways to leave it where I would find it. That was his way of controlling me. When my mother found porn saved on my computer, my father accused me of having unhealthy interests.

There are two kinds of love in this example; there is the false love of my father which was a warped facade, and there is the imperfect love of my mother, which was weak and compromising.

As much as she loved her child in her heart, my mother did not protect me from my father’s rage or perversion. Even when he hit me in front of her, or said obscene things, she did nothing. When I told her about violent, sexual, or emotional abuse, she did nothing. That is imperfect love; a love that is not strong enough to inspire courage, or deep enough to motivate action.

From a spiritual and emotional perspective, I was an orphan. Though I was young and naive, in a very dark and dangerous situation, I discovered hope and I clung to it.

I first realized that I was an orphan when I was 10 years old. That night, I stayed up late crying, and praying, and crying, and praying. I told God that the “stranger” in my house was not my real father, because he didn’t love me the way a father should. I asked God to be my real father, to be my daddy, to adopt me. I knew that if I were to love this “stranger” who pretended to love me, I would end up like so many other children taking drugs, committing suicide, or getting pregnant when I was 13.

I challenged God. I prayed, “You said, ‘Blessed are those who weep.’ Here I am God! I am weeping now.”

And God answered my prayer. After hours of crying, all in an instant, I was filled with a peace – filled with a knowing – that I was loved.

So, My Darling Child, do not be afraid when friends betray you, when loved ones hurt you, or even when you parents fail miserably in their love for you. There is a God – there is a Love – that is greater than all the hearts of the human race combined. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will never forget you or fail you. He is constant and true. He is your Daddy.

Do not let your heart rely too much on human love. At the same time, do not close your heart up to it. Understand that it is fleeting, it is imperfect, and it ebbs and flows. If you anchor your heart in it, it will eventually give way, and you will be set adrift. Anchor your heart in Jesus Christ, for He is your foundation, your solid ground, and your shelter amid the storm of life.