Ethics & Christian living, Wellbeing

Zuzu’s petals: reminders of what’s most important

In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the main character George Bailey faces bankruptcy and scandal. After a life of service and sacrifice, someone else’s negligence takes him to the brink of ruin.

On Christmas Eve, in the midst of his angst and desperation, George goes home and sees his family. His young daughter, Zuzu, has come home sick from school but has been given a flower which she cherishes. As he tucks her in bed, George accidently knocks a couple of petals off the flower. He pretends to ‘paste them’ back on but slips them into his trouser pocket.

Bad to worse…

From there, George’s situation goes from bad to worse.  Angry, frustrated and not knowing what to do, he gets drunk, crashes his car and considers taking his own life. But in response to the prayers of friends and family, an angel (called Clarence) is sent to help him.

Clarence does this by showing George what his hometown would be like if he had never lived.

George is thrown into a world in which he never existed. No one knows him or has ever heard of him. There is no debt problems, no threat of jail, no scandal, no broken dreams. But also his family and friends don’t know who he is. His children don’t exist. There are no petals in his trouser pocket. And his hometown is a very different place because of his absence from it.

This nightmarish glimpse of a world where he never existed shows George what a wonderful life he has had.


Following another anguished prayer, George is restored back to reality. His problems remain and he is no closer to solving them. But his perspective is completely transformed.

Rather than burdened with stress and self-doubt, he is bursting with gratitude. He is alive, he has family and friends, he is known and loved. It makes all the difference.

His re-discovery of Zuzu’s petals in his trouser pocket embody this revelation.  Financially they are worth nothing, but in reality they mean everything.

The problems George faces are real, desperate and unjust. But his revelation helps him see the sacred value of family, friendships and the purpose, meaning and value of his life.


What are the things that most remind you of what is most important?

My hope and prayer is that this Christmas each of us can re-discover the value in things may have got obscured or neglected amid the complexities and challenges of life.

May you experience a revelation of grace and truth which reminds you of what is most important.

That we can find space to embrace the love of family and friends and of God, and the hope, meaning and purpose which flows from this. That anxiety, stress and disappointment can be overcome with love, reassurance and hope.

Have a very happy Christmas and thanks for reading G+T this year!

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