This is a message for myself, about myself and I believe it matters. Because of recent events involving many in my immediate family, I have contemplated what I could possibly say to reach everyone in question.
The title of this post is a direct result of my pondering and my feelings. It also stems from my impressions after seeing the new movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019). The movie in question is based partially on the works of Fred Rogers, who created the show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968-2001). The movie was phenomenal and I recommend everyone go see it. But I am not here to write a review. I am here because there are many in my family who need to know how I feel and my thoughts concerning our struggles.
In the movie, Mister Rogers showcases the life of a man name Lloyd, who is very angry and in extension very scared. These feelings came because of his father Jerry, who left Lloyd, his sister and his wife for another woman during his wife’s illness and death. Throughout the film, Lloyd faces these emotions and learns to deal with these feelings in a positive way. I’ve never seen Fred Rogers’ show but I believe this idea was the premise of his life’s work: to face our feelings and major issues in a positive way.
This is not to say one’s feelings do not matter or that there are not consequences for harmful behavior. It simply means we find ways to face these emotions so as not to harm others or OURSELVES.
Part of me wishes I could have seen this show when I was young. From the time I was ten to thirteen, I carried a lot of pain, sorrow and anger. I bottled these emotions up to the point I would suddenly burst in a fit of rage. I kicked a hole in our laundry room wall, I broke several keys on the piano, and I shattered a brush I threw down our hallway. I faced bullies at school the best way I knew how, by reading myself into a stupor. I couldn’t face my parents with my feelings, because it meant I was weak. It meant I had to admit being angry. It meant being vulnerable and exposed.
I couldn’t afford to be any of those things. In my young mind I needed to hold my family together. I prayed and longed for us to be a family again. When we were all together once more against all odds I was very careful not to do anything which I thought would break us. I never told my elder brother how much I longed to be his best friend, even though I knew he was not. I never told my elder sister how much I envied her for being thin and smart, while I struggled with feelings of inferiority because of my weight and timidity. I never told my younger sister how sorry I was for not being a better friend to her my senior year of high school.
And I did not know their thoughts and feelings. We never reached a point where we could. Life moved on. We left home on missions, to college and to be married.
Now I am older and I understand those feelings and longings and regrets mattered. But I now also understand they were too much for a child to bear. In fact they are too much for ANYONE to bear.
Which brings us to the present moment. My dear family, what happens when we stop being angry? What do we see? I know for a fact we all have burdens we carry. Let me tell you what I see. For some, it is like our families are being torn apart. Some feel incredible mental anguish and fear for our children. Others must face the consequences of their mistakes and shame for what they have done. Some have felt so alone, even ostracized for years, not knowing how to be part of our family again. Some are married, others are not. Some of you don’t believe you are worth saving. Others suffer from depression and are tortured by anxiety.
Through our suffering we have common ground.
So I say this. I know we are hurting. I know some of us are so angry. In many ways we are all scared. We are scared of losing each other because we love one another. We regret things we have done and said in our pain and rage.
We must believe in one another. That is why God gave us families. It is because he knew this life is not easy. He knew there would be suffering and trials. Who better to face life and the evils which lie there than we, an eternal family? We have been through worse than this. As this world comes against us, we have each other.
I love all my siblings, my parents, and my new sister and brother in-laws. I love my grandparents, aunts, uncles alive and on the other side of the veil. I DON’T WANT TO LOSE ANY OF YOU.
In the movie I saw today, Mr. Rogers asks Lloyd to share a minute of silence to think of all those who have “loved him into being”. While they sat in silence I did as well. I thought of all of my family and I cried because you are all so precious to me. It grieves me to see you in pain. I feel helpless because I can’t take your sorrow away.
I can tell you how I felt yesterday. I was angry. Angry, bitter and ashamed. Most of all, I was grief-stricken. I wanted to go back to being that child who kicked holes in walls and screamed because the world is not fair. There were times I bitterly sat with myself thinking, “You took my family away from me, destroyed us and beat us. What did we wrong? Why can’t we go back? What do I have to do to make it right again?”
Those questions torment me again.
But yesterday, in the heat of my sorrow and harsh feelings my institute teacher after writing a myriad difficult questions on a board asked us his own question. What do each of these questions have to do with Jesus Christ? With this perspective, I know better. It is because I have seen God’s hand in healing our family time and time again. Remember Jesus Christ. Picture him in your mind. He will heal us, he will bring us together again. His message is Heavenly Father’s message. Families can be together forever.
Mom has told us this quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley many times.
“It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us.”
If some of you need time to heal, take that time. If some of you need to be away, stay where you are. But please, don’t act in anger. Anger leads us to say and do things which cause terrible damage to others and OURSELVES. Let us remember to be kind and compassionate.
(For context, this is from the movie Princess Mononoke (1998) where a God became so consumed by rage and hatred it burned its way through him, turning him into a demon of destruction and death. The antithesis to his being.)
Acting out because of hatred and anger will make monsters of us all if we do not temper our emotions and turn to God.
Remember what Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
I say this for myself as well. I am tired of being angry. I am tired of the ugly feelings and being fearful of a future which has not happened yet. I want to look toward our future with faith. I believe our family will be whole again. I believe in all of us.
Please ponder, for any in or out of my family who read this,
Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.- Mister Rogers.