Last month, David and I were privileged to go see “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood,” which if you haven’t heard about it yet, is a movie about the impact Mr. Rogers had in a specific journalist’s life. As I sat there watching, I couldn’t help but wonder what our families, churches, and communities would be like if we all took some lessons from Mr. Rogers’ playbook.
There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. ~Mr. Rogers
Throughout the movie, we get glimpses of what drove Fred Rogers, what made him unique, and how his worldview impacted generations of children. I learned a lot about Mr. Rogers that I never knew– and I learned a lot of lessons through the movie that as a Christ follower should be evident in my life each and every day– and gives us some great lessons to pass on to our children by modeling them in our own life.
David and I often discuss that as part of our family “code.” People matter. It’s no wonder that the second part of the greatest commandment was loving people.
Mr. Rogers cared deeply about people. I mean DEEPLY. I sat there weeping as I watched even the throwback moments to his own show, through my now adult lens. A big part of the mission of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was to help children develop emotionally and help them learn to deal with all kinds of feelings– and he tackled some deep, dark feelings with them, too.
As a man, he showed that same level of concern by investing in the lives of others on a daily basis. He cared. He prayed. He checked up on. He displayed the love of God to everyone with whom he came into contact. I sat there thinking that I wanted to be just like him in those ways.
So, how can we as parents model that people matter for our children? It’s easy, really, if you are tuned in to the opportunities God gives you each and every day.
- Reach out to those you know are lonely and hurting.
- Take a meal.
- Visit a shut-in.
- Ask questions when you’re talking to someone to let them know that you are truly interested in them.
- Follow up on things you’ll say you’ll do.
Our children see all these little things and more– and all of these can be done at every stage of life you find yourself in.
We teach our children from a very young age to be kind to one another. Over and over, we quote Ephesians 4:32, stressing the importance of kindness. We talk about how God wants us to be kind even to our enemies…. But do we actually take the time to practice this virtue in our adult lives? Mr. Rogers is noted as having said, “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
Sounds easy, right- one kind word. We all know what an impact that one kind word could have on someone– a simple acknowledgement of their value could make all the difference in the world to them.
Titus 3 reminds us that it was “when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us… because of His mercy.” When such overwhelming kindness was shown to us, how could we not show kindness day in and day out to those made in the image of our loving God? How many hearts could be softened and lives changed if we did? (And that includes kindness and civility online, too.)
I live in the South, so we all tend to speak to one another, but one of my favorite things about taking walks in my neighborhood are those small interactions with people. My spirit- and I hope theirs- is always lifted after we chat about how good their yard looks or what’s happening in their family. It certainly doesn’t take any training or an extreme amount of effort to display kindness to those around us.
I’d like to give you all an invisible gift. A gift of a silent minute to think about those who have helped you become who you are today. Mr. Rogers
Gratitude is a starting point. It’s not a reaction to something, but rather, it’s a frame of mind, a way of living, and it’s sadly becoming a lost art in a world that always wants more or wants something or someone else.
Taking the time to be grateful for all that God has given you. All the people that have invested in you. All the individuals who together have been used to make you who you are today is a stunning exercise to go through, and I highly encourage you to do so (would be a great exercise at your Thanksgiving table this year!!) One of the most stirring moments in the movie happens when Mr. Rogers encourages journalist Tom Junod to do this exercise at a restaurant– and the entire dining room full of people engages in it as well. (You can get a sneak peek of that scene in this video clip, starting around the 3:14 mark.)
Let’s model for our children a heart of gratitude. Let’s not miss the small blessings or the big ones. Let’s be thankful for the people God has brought into our lives, and let’s set out to use kindness to show those we come in contact with that they matter to us and to our Heavenly Father. Just think of what a Beautiful Day it would be if we all did.
My Thoughts On A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood Movie:
I admit to being a little shocked by the movie at first, for I went in expecting to see a play on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood– simple, sweet, “feel good-ish.” Early in the movie, though, I was confronted with a darker reality– grown up problems, anger, unforgiveness. The “neighborhood” I was expecting looked very different than what I imagined it would, and for that reason, I wouldn’t recommend taking your children to see it.
After I digested the emotions and thoughts I had at the end of the movie, though, I realized that I truly believed that every adult would benefit from seeing it. The themes of kindness and love that are so prevalent within the film are critically needed in society today, and I love that they are there to extend the legacy left behind by this man who loved God and about whom I have never heard one bad thing.
While I would not deem this a “Christian” movie, per se, there are overwhelming biblical themes running through it that should be both a reminder and cause conviction for us as believers if we are not living them out in out day to day lives.
I highly recommend you grab your spouse and head out for a date night. Some of the movie will be hard to watch, but so much will be encouraging as you see the power of love, investing in others’ lives, gratitude and kindness play out on the big screen. I imagine, like me, you will leave wanting to be a lot more like Mr. Rogers in the days ahead.
Click here to get your tickets for A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood which opened in theaters on November 22, 2019.