Stuck in Bedford Falls


I’m not a talented impressionist, but for years I’ve been paraphrasing a couple of lines from It’s a Wonderful Life while doing my best imitation of Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey.

“Why do we have to live in this drafty old house, Mary? And why do we have to have all these kids?”

That frustrated outburst by George Bailey has been a favorite of mine since junior high. In college, for the entertainment of my roommates, I did my impression while inserting the name of my girlfriend. ‘Shari’ rhymes with ‘Mary.’ It was perfect.

But it got better. Years later, I actually lived in a drafty old house with Shari and several of our children. Now it was a sheer delight for me to belt out those lines. Having worked the stage speaking those same few words for years, my impression was pretty good. But during all those years of having fun with my George Bailey impression, I never dreamed that I would one day become George Bailey.

That was no laughing matter.

After losing my livelihood in the Midwest, I traveled 850 miles west to Colorado Springs to make a fresh start. I had dreams of doing something meaningful, something satisfying, something aligned with my gifting, something profitable. But I found nothing in this town that dreams are made of. Colorado Springs became my Bedford Falls. I was broke. I felt trapped. I repeatedly cried out to God and begged Him to get me out of my circumstantial Bedford Falls.

He didn’t.

In time, I found myself standing on the bridge, as it were, staring into the icy water below. But God didn’t send Clarence the angel to save me. He sent many “angels” into my life, several ministers of light who spoke truth into my dark and troubled soul.

Through their ministry, the Spirit opened my eyes to people all around me, the people who WONDERLIFEcared for me and the people Jesus wanted me to care for. God showed me that life isn’t circumstance-based, but relationship based. The meaningful, satisfying life I was looking for was right in front of me all the time. Intimacy with God is the life-giving, joy-producing spring that overflows into streams of blessing to those who live right here in Bedford Falls.

And I learned that my relationship-based ministry begins with my beautiful wife and  wonderful kids who live with me in this drafty house.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

8 thoughts on “Stuck in Bedford Falls

  1. Dave, this is a great post.

    For some reason it put the U2 song “Stuck in a Moment” into my head…

    “You’ve got to
    get yourself together,
    you’ve got yourself
    stuck in a moment
    and you can’t
    get out of it.
    Don’t say that
    later will be better,
    you got yourself
    stuck in a moment
    and you can’t
    get out of it.”

    I suspect that many of us are trapped in a ‘Bedford Falls Moment’, within our own memories. It’s a place that saps hope and strength, pulling us back to a time when life’s walls closed in.

    We can take Bedford Falls with us wherever we go, and try as we may, when we turn around it’ll always be right there, waiting behind us. (Check out Nicholas’ Monserrat’s “The Cruel Sea” for a vivid if horrifying analogy of that image.)

    But in the end, it’s neither a place nor a time that decides our fate. It’s grace.

    • I appreciate your comments, Andrew. Yes, we get trapped in a Bedford Falls moment, and we exhaust ourselves trying to get out. But as you have said so well, our hope is not found in some other time or place, but in God’s grace. We find hope when we recognize that the God of grace is Present and working in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Dave, I love your post! We love this movie … think it hits home for so many. It’s not the things, it’s the people. Without the people, the things wouldn’t mean anything … because we would be so lonely. We always joke about the money comment by George … “It comes in pretty handy down here, Bub!” Just last night, my husband hadn’t been feeling good … I gave him medicine … he felt better … he said, “The day you saved my life” and began to count the times I had “saved his life” when he was sick. I joked, “The day I ruined your life” … he grabbed me and said, “NO, you saved me.” I needed to hear that.

  3. Shelli, thanks for dropping by and contributing your thoughts to this discussion.
    “It’s not the things, it’s the people”–quite right. That message comes through so clearly in this story that it’s always worth revisiting the movie this time of year.
    “It comes in pretty handy down here”–great line.
    And thank you for sharing that weighty moment between you and your husband. It’s wonderful that he recognizes the value of your life and sees the profound impact your life has made in his.
    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

    • “Your family looks soooo familiar…” I get that a lot 🙂
      Everyone has been to Bedford Falls. Always by accident 🙂
      Well, if you insist, I’ll have a Happy New Year 🙂
      Thanks for your comments, Shel. You made me smile 🙂
      A mandatory Happy New Year to you, too!

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