Today’s Kintsugi of the Soul* features a story making the rounds on Facebook about Mr. Rogers. I cannot locate the original author or citation, but this is the story below.
I don’t mean to dishonor the other stories here. But there is one I wanted to add.
A good portion of my pro-bono work is defending abused children. It’s a cause close to my heart. In the course of my work I met a man who was an adult survivor. You wouldn’t have known it looking at him. He was this gigantic Polynesian guy. Wild curly hair. I think of him every time I see Khal Drogo on GoT. He was counseling some of the little kids, and doing a fantastic job of it.
I visited his home to get his opinion on something and I noticed a little toy on his desk. It was Trolley. Naturally curious, I asked him about it. This is what he told me:
“The most dangerous time for me was in the afternoon when my mother got tired and irritable. Like clockwork. Now, she liked to beat me in discreet places so my father wouldn’t see the bruises. That particular day she went for the legs. Not uncommon for her. I was knocked down and couldn’t get back up. Also not uncommon. She gave me one last kick, the one I had come to learn meant ‘I’m done now’. Then she left me there upstairs, face in the carpet, alone. I tried to get up, but couldn’t. So I dragged myself, arm over arm, to the television, climbed up the TV cabinet and turned on the TV.
“And there was Mr. Rogers. It was the end of the show and he was having a quiet, calm conversation with those hundreds of kids. In that moment, he seemed to look me in the eye when he said ‘And I like you just for being you’. In that moment, it was like he was reaching across time and space to say these words to me when I needed them most.
“It was like the hand of God, if you’re into that kind of thing. It hit me in the soul. I was a miserable little kid. I was sure I was a horrible person. I was sure I deserved every last moment of abuse, every blow, every bad name. I was sure I earned it, sure I didn’t deserve better. I *knew* all of these things … until that moment. If this man, who I hadn’t even met, liked me just for being me, then I couldn’t be all bad. Then maybe someone could love me, even if it wasn’t my mom.
“It gave me hope. If that nice man liked me, then I wasn’t a monster. I was worth fighting for. From that day on, his words were like a secret fortress in my heart. No matter how broken I was, no matter how much it hurt or what was done to me, I could remember his words, get back on my feet, and go on for another day.
“That’s why I keep Trolley there. To remind me that, no matter how terrible things look, someone who had never met me liked me just for being me, and that makes even the worst day worth it to me. I know how stupid it sounds, but Mr. Rogers saved my life.”
The next time I saw him, he was talking to one of my little clients. When they were done with their session, he helped her out of her chair, took both of her hands, looked her in the eyes and said: “And remember, I like you just for being you.”
That, to me, is Mr. Rogers’ most powerful legacy. All of the little lives he changed and made better with simple and sincere words of love and kindness.
I believe this short video from Mr. Rogers relates, as well.
When we face abuse, tragedy, and difficult circumstances, we never know where our hope and helpers might be found. We must look around us, seeking hope and help in unexpected places. And just perhaps WE are to be the hope and helper TO ANOTHER? And if that’s true…
then don’t forget to let your trUe BEaUty shine through so that others can find hope and help in their places of tragedy, abuse and need.
*Kintsugi of the Soul is a year-long project celebrating the release of The Creator’s Healing Power—Restoring the Broken to Beautiful and seeks to share creative resources, personal testimonies and redemptive stories aimed at healing, restoration and wholeness. Pictured above, kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a lacquer mixed with powdered gold. When an object is broken, rather than discarding the damaged and broken, the pieces are mended, and cracks are filled with precious metal and, in many ways, make the object more beautiful than it was at the start. As a philosophy, it is rooted in the inherent beauty of all objects, no matter what they’ve endured. Kintsugi of the Soul posts appear weekly on Tuesdays. You can follow along by signing up to receive emails or on Jody’s Facebook page, or read previous editions by scrolling down here.
The philosophy behind kintsugi is the same one that inspires Jody’s latest book, The Creator’s Healing Power—Restoring the Broken to Beautiful. Kintsugi is a powerful metaphor of Jesus Christ, the Master Artisan, filling and healing the shattered places within. As the broken places are tenderly pieced back together and repaired with his golden healing balm, they become a beautiful place where God’s glory is revealed in our weakness. Based on the Formational Prayer Model developed by Dr. Terry Wardle, The Creator’s Healing Power is an in-depth and interactive Bible study exploring the connection between healing and creativity, prayer and redemption, surrender and beauty, worship and wholeness.
Jody Thomae © 2018 All Rights Reserved
Jody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You and The Creator’s Healing Power—Restoring the Broken to Beautiful, both in-depth, interactive devotional books that are part of the Bible Studies to Nurture the Creative Spirit Within series and serve as resources for creative Christians, artists, and lovers of beauty and worship. Jody has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, serving as worship arts ministry pastor, worship leader and creative arts director, and is a guest lecturer on creativity, embodiment, and spirituality with Healing Care Ministries and HCM International. Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and the use of creativity in formational and healing ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. She is particularly interested in the reclamation of the body in the healing of trauma and works in the area of embodiment with survivors of abuse, addiction, and trauma. Her life verse is Isaiah 50:4.
Her books are available through Amazon. Signed copies are available for purchase through Square where her resources are available most affordably (and in bulk amounts for your creative ministry team or group study). Jody has also recorded a devotional CD, Song of the Beloved, which is available through Square, iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, and other music outlets.