“I like you just the way you are,” Mr. Rogers said to viewers in television land. It was his way of teaching the world that God made you to be yourself. As he walked through the door of his ordinary life onto the Mr. Roger’s neighborhood set, all eyes were on him, children and adults alike. Ears perked up to hear what wonder would unfold and wisdom be told. He had a simple message with a profound impact. He always began by taking off his dress shoes, putting on his sneakers, and then replace his sports coat with a cardigan sweater. This was his way of saying, “Time to rest, relax and refresh!” His show was like a morning retreat through the airwaves. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was a time to stop, look, listen, and learn. He was never concerned that his outdated sweater was a fashion risk, nor his sneakers a name brand. Instead his concern was to be clothed in wise words and a kind heart. Mr. Rogers’ “Land of Imagination” was a place many hoped could be a reality.
Mr. Rogers taught all to see the wonder of life, to have a welcoming heart, and most importantly, to accept all people just the way they are. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made by God for a purpose. By being ourselves we can live fully alive in Christ, healthy and whole. Then we can make a difference in this world. How do you “be yourself”? If you spend time with your Heavenly Father you will not only get to know Him but also know yourself. Then you can be who God created you to be. It is in the quietness of prayer that God will show you your gifts and your talents, your hopes and your dreams. During this time of discovery you will discover your purpose in this life; a purpose only you can accomplish. This purpose will match who you are. You will be glad you are you. You will learn why Mr. Rogers’ theme song was, “I like you just the way you are!” You will sing along and even teach your children the words.
What are you called to teach the world? What will be your theme song? How will you make a difference? Before we begin the race, let us pause and take a “heart” check:
- Take a moment today and get a good look in the mirror with clear adult vision. Are you wearing any masks? Can you see the reflection of the “true you” looking back?
- Take an inventory of your gifts, talents and personality. Are you using them for God’s glory?
- Take some time to attune your spiritual ears to hear what God is saying through the people you encounter. Ask the people who know you best what they think God is calling you to do? They may lead you to God’s purpose for your life.
Then ask yourself where have I been, where am I now, and where am I going? Once the disciples got the call by Jesus to, “Follow me!” their lives took on new meaning. They knew where they were going and why. They lived fully alive in Christ, doing the work God called them to do.
Let’s face it, moms, life can be an exciting adventure, or dull and humdrum. Monotony can cause one to become bored and dissatisfied. Do you want to avoid getting stuck in the “routine rut”? Dare to do make a difference by living a life with purpose. Begin the journey by discovering who you are. Along the path you will make new friends, try new things and go new places. Loving yourself means taking the time to do what you like to do, so explore your options. Every one’s journey will take them down a different road. We are all being transformed! So mom, what are you waiting for? Change things up a bit and let your exploration begin. Live your life fully alive!
Have you always wanted to take piano lessons, but were too busy? Do it now! Have you and your spouse always wanted to take ballroom dance lessons? What are you waiting for!? Have you wanted to finish that college degree? Do you feel called to go to a bible study, daily mass or teach a CCD class? Now are the time to explore physically, mentally and spiritually who you are and what you are called by God to do. Facing new challenges gives us an opportunity to grow as a person, and may open doors to advancing in our life. Going new places puts us in the path of new people. Choosing new experiences helps us to view life with eyes of wonder and childlike faith. Life becomes a miracle unfolding before your eyes.
As you discover who you are and what you should be doing, help your children to do the same. Have a heart-to-heart talk with each child about their activities. If they always played soccer, but it was never their passion, maybe this year they could try out for football instead. If their ballet lessons have lost “zip,” sign them up for gymnastics. Too many activities can stress them and the family, yet too few activities are a recipe for boredom that can lead to trouble! Decide what works best for you. My husband, a family physician, cautions parents about activities by asking them to check their motives. “Are you doing this activity to fulfill their dreams or yours?” Is your husband pushing his only son to be the next Tim Tebow because he dreamed of being a star quarterback? Maybe you are pushing your daughter to be a “tiara tot” because you were too shy to enter a pageant. Excess parental pressure can cause permanent harm to your child. Accepting your child for who they are a parent’s way of saying, “I like you just the way you are,” and reminding them that “You are fearfully and wonderfully made!”
We call October 31 “Halloween.” It is a day when children and some adults alike dress up and pretend that they are someone they are not, masks and all. Living in the land of make-believe once a year can be a great idea, especially if you dress up like one of the Saints like our children were encouraged to do. I know Mr. Rogers would be proud of the creativity each imagination possesses. How many people put on masks not just one day a year but every day of their life? By being the person you are not, you are forfeiting a chance to be the person who you are. How comfortable are you in your own personality? Do you enjoy being the unique person you are, or are you trying to play a role? Loving yourself for who you are is a step in the right direction. I find that the more I learn to like myself for who I am, the more I am able to let other people do the same. This can bring freedom and wholeness to all.
Why do so many people wear masks or force others to wear masks in their presence? Some people select a mask to wear in order to cover up a wound from their past which never seems to heal, inflicted through abuse, prejudice, or bullying. Some wear a mask to be accepted in a certain group or to be popular. Some put on a mask to appear more spiritual, more successful or more important. Some use a mask so that no one will ever know who they really are. They present to the world a fake version of themselves. Some people are wearing a mask to cover up bitterness or anger. Sadly this mask is worn on the heart rather than on their face. It is fine to wear a mask on Halloween but not on a full-time basis; a mask covers up the real you.
Why did Mr. Rogers’ simple message make such a profound impact? Maybe it was because Mr. Rogers did not wear a mask, except on Halloween. Instead He discovered his gifts and talents, and shared them with all. He never lost life’s wonder or learning’s joy. He lived his life fully alive as the best Mr. Rogers that he could be – UNMASKED! Let us take Mr. Roger’s message to heart and pass it down to the next generation. Discover your gifts, talents and purpose. Then use what God made you to be, “fearfully and wonderfully made,” to make a difference in this world for Him. Why wear a mask when you can put on Christ? Do you hear the echo in your soul saying, “I like you just the way you are!”
Copyright 2016 Ellen Mongan