No one stood up when the credits began to roll.
Whispered wows mixed with the sound of sniffling as we reached for tissues, blinked our eyes, and stayed for just a moment longer.
Like so many others, I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Childhood memories flooded back as the red trolley, the closet full of sweaters hung with care, and the familiar and welcoming face of Mr. Rogers filled the big screen.
At the time, I’m not sure I understood just how unusual — in every wonderful way — the Neighborhood was.
Mr. Rogers took the time to truly listen to everyone he encountered, made space for those who were different than him, and fought with kindness for what he believed in. He was a gentle man with conviction, a humble man with doubts, and he dared to simply be himself.
Nearly two months have passed since I sat in the theater, smiling wide as I wiped tears from my eyes. But one particular moment from the Won’t You Be My Neighbor documentary has stayed with me. Honestly, I have no recollection of hearing the song as a child. But as a twenty-five-year-old, it struck a chord deep within me.
“I’ve been wondering if I was a mistake,” Daniel Tiger quietly admits to Lady Aberlin. As he explains that no other tiger looks, talks, or loves like he does, the words to the song “Sometimes I Wonder If I’m a Mistake” begin to spill out. They’re honest and raw, true and familiar — not because I remember this particular song from childhood, but because I’ve heard the words inside. Maybe you have, too?
You could have heard a pin drop in the theater, one hundred adults collectively holding their breath, waiting to see what would happen next. And then, Lady Aberlin’s response, so simple and sweet:
It’s really true
I like you
Crying or shaking or dreaming or breaking
There’s no one mistaking it
You’re my best friend
I think you are just fine as you are
I really must tell you
I do like the person that you are becoming
When you are sleeping
When you are waking
You’re not a fake
You’re no mistake
You are my friend
Lady Aberlin sang the words that every heart longs to hear. And then, much to my surprise, the song became a duet, doubts and truth sung to the same tune at the same time. My mouth hung wide open as tears ran down, stunned by the honesty of their voices mingling together.
Because it doesn’t happen overnight, does it? We work up the courage to share our doubts and fears with a trusted friend, but even when we’re met with kindness and truth, even when light breaks into the darkness, there are still shadows.
It takes time to replace lies with truth, and so we just keep on singing — together.
Several years ago, a trusted friend and I sat on an old wooden bench as I dared to whisper the words that screamed in the dark. I was terrified she’d confirm what I feared to be true, but as my words hung in the air she spoke truth and reminded me of Scripture. Much like Lady Aberlin, she simply and sweetly cut in and put new lyrics to a familiar tune.
She didn’t erase the song, and even all these years later, some days it still plays in the background. But in that moment, the solo became a duet.
Sometimes we just need someone to sing with us, to remind us of what’s true, to speak love and life and hope into the doubts, the fears, the questions.
Would you allow me to be your neighbor today? Whatever song you’re singing, whatever fear you’re facing, whatever lie is whispering inside, allow these words to join the mix:
Everything is going to be okay.
You’re braver than you know, loved more than you dare to dream.
You have not been forgotten.
You aren’t a mistake.
There’s room for you here.
You’re loved not for what you do, but for who you are.
Even in the in between and unknown, you are not alone.
Your story matters.
This is an excerpt from my newest (in)courage post that went live this morning. I’d love for you to click over and continue reading… (A video of the duet is included at the bottom of the post.)
Kaitlyn, you wrote about one of my heroes. Posts like this will help to preserve his legacy. I recently wrote a post about my sacred afternoons watching my Favorite Neighbor with my children.
Mr. Rogers also inspired me as a child. The poignancy of his shows especially the one you feature remain with me too. I battle with uncertainty too at times just like Daniel Tiger. I will have to check this documentary out when it comes on one of my streaming services. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this past week.
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Yes! It’s so worth watching! I think it’s left the theater near me, so I’m hoping it’ll come to Netflix next year.
Such powerful and beautiful words! Thank you for sharing!
Oh wow, Kaitlyn. These are powerful words. Thank you!
Beautiful words. Clicking over to read.
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Thank you! :)
Love love love this! Yes, sometimes we just need someone to sing along! thank you for this!
This is such a lovely post, Kaitlyn. We all seem to struggle with this kind of self doubt, but the remedy for it is God’s truth. When we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see, God says we are beautiful. When we feel that we are unlovable, God says we are loved. When we feel abandoned and alone, God says He is with us. Thank you for reminding us of this today. Many blessings to you!
Thank you, Connie… and thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment here.
I loved that movie! My youngest and I cried that’s for sure – thank you for your beautiful reminders and recap.
This is a beautiful reminder for me. Thank you. laurensparks.net
Thank you for this, Kaitlyn. Not being an American, I didn’t grow up with this TV programme like so many of my friends, but reading your words has me in tears.
I still battle those lies. A lot. I am growing in our Father’s love, but just as you pointed out: “it doesn’t happen overnight, does it?” No, it doesn’t. Thankful for people like you who are honest enough to admit that and be an encouragement to keep pressing into truth unashamed.
Visiting from LLM-link up on behalf of Beloved Prodigal.
Anna, I hope there are words of Truth spoken over you today – whether in a song, in a conversation while running errands, or a text.
I always think of Psalm 139: 13-18 & know I was created for relationship with my Heavenly Father as was you…
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Although I’m older and didn’t grow up watching this show, I saw the movie. But I also enjoyed it. I long for a time when people truly sat and listened. Even when Mr. Rogers talked to kids he stopped and took time to pause and listen before speaking. I rarely go the movies these days but this is one I enjoyed.