Whether it is the old 1947 version, or the more recent 1994 remake version, Miracle on 34th Street is a classic.
There are two primary lessons that I pulled out of this movie, and neither of them have to do with believing in Santa Claus! Instead, both of them have to do with believing in Jesus as the foundation for finding joy at Christmas, and all year round.
The first lesson is forgiveness, and the second is faith.
The two main characters in the movie are a single parent named Doris, and her little girl named Susan.
Due to the breakup of her marriage, Doris’s heart had hardened. She sincerely loved her daughter, but in her efforts to avoid ever being hurt again, she had become stoic, guarded, skeptical, and overly businesslike in all situations. Her attitude was curt, and she rarely showed genuine emotion.
The sad part is, that not only do these character deficiencies impact the mother’s own heart, but she inherently teaches these to her daughter as well. As a result, Doris instills her lack of faith, hope and trust in others, and even in Santa, into her daughters heart and mind.
It appears that Doris has adopted a mentality of bitterness, and that unforgiveness and a lack of faith in people, and God, was holding her heart captive.
In fact, even after the new man in her life proposes with a beautiful diamond ring, the past hurts in her life bubble up to the surface. Instead of gleefully accepting his invitation to marriage, she tells him he is a fool for putting his trust in her. But a while later, she admitted to him, that she was simply afraid.
Afraid to forgive. Afraid to trust. Afraid to have hope. Afraid to have faith. Afraid to believe in others. Afraid to believe in magic. Afraid to love. Afraid of the future. Afraid to believe in the unknown.
Fortunately, Doris eventually embraces the importance of having faith in other people. Her relationship with the daughter she loved, the man she wanted to love, and the faith she longed to have, melted her heart.
I started thinking about how this movie would have ended differently, had Doris not regained her faith. Thinking hypothetically, of course, I have to wonder…..
What if Doris……
– had continued to have a fear of being disappointed, affecting all her relationships
– had held on to past hurts
– had not allowed her heart to love someone new
– had not found the strength to forgive her ex husband, releasing her to love again
– had not allowed herself to put faith in a new man
– had not given herself permission to let down her guard and open up
– stayed determined to hang on to bitterness,destroying her chance for future happiness
– had stuck to believing in only what she could see
– had held onto skepticism, instead of embracing joy
– had never allowed herself to have faith in others again
– had continued to instill in her negativity and doubt about life and people into her daughter’s heart
If these things above had actually happened in the script of the movie, the ending would not have been happy at all.
Doris would have most likely ended up as a sour, lonely, grumpy old woman, and Susan would have been on a journey to that same fate. Neither of them would have found joy or happiness in life, because their hearts would have been too full of bitterness and resentment to let anything else fill them.
At one point in the movie, Susan’s mom stated that “faith is believing in things when common sense tells you otherwise”. If you ask me, that was a pretty profound statement, and based on biblical principle.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Sometimes it is hard to choose faith, in people, and in our God. That is why our walk with Christ is often called a “faith journey”. Life is a journey, with ups and downs, disappointments and frustrations, heartbreaks and celebrations. It takes faith to get through it all.
More times than not, it is hard to choose to forgive and let it go. One of my favorite phrases, is that “unforgiveness is like ingesting poison, then waiting for the other person to perish”. Unforgiveness slowly kills us, not our offenders. Forgiveness releases our hearts from bondage, and frees our souls to love others, have faith in others, and trust in the future that God holds for us.
A quote from the movie, straight from the mouth of Santa, but surely sparked by Jesus in his heart, said … “if you cant accept anything by faith, then you are doomed for a life dominated by doubt.”
Faith is something we choose to receive. Once we have it, then forgiveness is something we choose to give.
Both ingredients are necessary for a life of true joy, instead of a life dominated by doubt and pessimism.
Just maybe, if we choose to embrace faith and forgiveness with our whole heart, soul and mind, then we just might experience a miracle on our own street this Christmas. The miracle of CHRIStmas.