I just adore the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, where Tom Hanks plays Fred Rogers from the popular television show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Every time I watch it, something else profound touches me. If you haven’t seen it yet, good grief – watch it! It is warm, touching, and inspirational!
Recently, the scene where Fred is at a diner with Lloyd spoke to me. Mr. Rogers clearly sees how distraught Lloyd is and he asks Lloyd to do an exercise with him. True to Fred’s nature, he doesn’t embarrass Lloyd or make him feel “broken.” Instead, he says he would like to do this exercise and asks Lloyd if he would he join him.
They close their eyes, and for two minutes, they are to think of all the people who have been a part of their life with no judgement as to whether they were good or bad…just think on them. Fred explains that we are a sum of all the people we have encountered.
Fred watches Lloyd and what is so fascinating is how contagious this moment of silence is because the entire diner quiets down, closes their eyes, and they participate. It’s powerful! What transpires is a wave of peace, calm, and love over Lloyd…replacing his anger and hate he has been holding on to. After the exercise is complete, everyone goes back to talking and eating.
You see, people have hurt us…some more than others. Yet, their part in our life helped shape and mold us. I know every horrible boss I had made me vow to never be like them. It guided my own leadership style of what not to do!
Other people have disappointed us, and we learned how that feels. We often decide not to treat people that way, and once again, their negative behavior prevented us from going down the same path.
Many people have loved us, invested in us, and given their all to us. We can easily forget how many positive influences we’ve had in our lives, especially when life gets crazy. These people showed us what real love is and what it means to receive kindness. We, in turn, learned to give and love others.
If you haven’t done this exercise before or it has been a while, I encourage you to take two minutes out of your week in complete silence. Close your eyes and ask God to bring to your mind and heart all the people in your life. Don’t fight the feelings of sadness or joy. They all worked together to make you, and we should thank them all for their role in making us who we are today.
The flip side of this is to realize you are shaping and molding someone else this very minute! Will you be a positive or negative influence on their life? Will they look fondly upon your contribution or have angst at the thought of you?
I hope one of the first people who comes to your mind is Jesus as He gave the most of all: His life for yours. This is the time of year where we celebrate His birth and time on earth. “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing; Glory to the new-born King!” We should want to emulate the way Jesus lived, and His helper, the Holy Spirit, is available to held guide and direct us along the way. May we be more like Jesus every day!
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