I recently watched the Mr. Rogers documentary. In addition to bringing back fond memories of my childhood, I was struck by how clearly Mr. Rogers tapped into our deepest need as human beings: the need to be loved just as we are.
Mr. Rogers’ Purpose
When asked about his mission and purpose, Mr. Rogers said it clearly: He wanted every child to know (1) they were loved and (2) they were lovable. This is something we all need at the core of our being. But we don’t always get it.
Failures of Love and Acceptance
Maybe your parents struggled to give you the love you needed growing up. Maybe they even abused or neglected you. Or maybe you knew you were loved by your parents, but somewhere along the line you were rejected or made fun of. You internalized the message that something about you wasn’t okay.
For me, I knew my parents loved me, but I struggled to feel accepted at school with my peers. I was overweight, and I got made fun of a lot growing up. I wasn’t good at sports—more rejection. I struggled with dating and felt very much alone. The message I internalized was that I was only lovable if I was in great shape or really successful. I wasn’t lovable just for who I was.
Mr. Rogers’ Conviction
It was incredible to watch the conviction that Mr. Rogers had, and how he pursued his conviction with a singular purpose. In every show, in every interaction with a child, Mr. Rogers was on a mission. He wanted that child to know deep down they were loved and accepted, just as they were.
Mr. Rogers’ Mission Field
Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister, and he viewed television as his mission field. When I first heard this, I thought it sounded a bit strange. But the more I thought about it, Mr. Rogers’ mission and purpose is pretty much the core of the Christian Gospel. Because God loves us, we are loved, accepted, and forgiven, just as we are. We don’t have to earn our love and acceptance—it’s a free gift. I think Mr. Rogers was on to something, and I’m trying to think about how I can continue to spread his message in my own way.
Discussion: What did you think of the Mr. Rogers documentary? How loved and accepted did you feel growing up? How can we help let others know they are loved and accepted, just as they are?