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  • Leslie Merrell

What Mrs. Rogers Understood, That I Did Not

Mr. Rogers has said, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world."

Our brains have the incredible ability to find evidence for whatever we believe. Mrs. Rogers understood this, and offered her son the beautiful belief that, "You will always find people who are helping." She helped to shape her son's experience and perception of the world, tragedy, and people by inviting him to direct his brain.

Well, ... let's just say that I did not understand this concept when my firstborn was young. When he was born, he was such a pure and innocent soul and I felt we truly had our own little piece of Heaven in our care. I became very aware of the fallen nature of our world, and I felt such a responsibility to protect him, and to teach him the difference between good and evil. My intentions were good. So very good. But, my execution was flawed. So very flawed.

For example, I distinctly remember giving instructions to his babysitter when he was just under two years old. She had grown children, and her youngest was in high school. She was no novice. I cringe a little inside when I recall telling her that he could watch the classic Disney and Pixar movies, but that she should point out to my young, impressionable son, that what the bad guys were doing was wrong. I'm sure she was amused.


I did not understand that by calling attention to the bad guys and what they were doing, I was essentially guiding my son's sweet little brain to focus on the exact things I wanted him to avoid. I wanted him to be a good guy, doing good things, but I was teaching him to look for the bad.


Unfortunately, my son grew up to be a kidnapper who stole children's screams in order to power his city. ... No, just kidding. Despite my mistakes, my son has grown into an incredible adult, with a big heart, and a deep understanding and testimony of God.


If I had a do-over, I would follow Mrs. Rogers' example. She understood, long before I did, that what we focus on, we will find. Which also means that if I choose to focus on the mistakes I have made as a mother, I will find PLENTY. Instead, I am going to shape my future, on purpose, by focusing on the things I want to create more of in my life.

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