Anything mentionable is manageable
“Anything mentionable is manageable.”
The tears started streaming down her face. She said she was sorry. I could feel her pain.
“I can’t believe I did that. I’m such a screw-up.”
“What will people think of me now?”
“No one will look at me the same way ever again.”
This conversation and countless others continue to remind us how much all of us need to know that we are unconditionally loved and accepted—no matter what! Fred Rogers is truly a hero of ours because he was someone who lived by the philosophy that if there is something going on in your life worth mentioning–a mistake you made, a bad decision, a thoughtless comment, an “unforgivable sin”—it is something manageable. In Fred’s mind, there was nothing, absolutely nothing, someone could tell him that would make him view a person differently. Nothing caught him off-guard. Nothing made him think twice or give a second-glance. He simply listened with a compassionate listening ear. In turn, Fred embodied love and grace to all.
Fred’s philosophy is one that we try to embody on a daily basis too. Our hope is to create a safe place for people to share their own brokenness, their own suffering, their own humanness in a non-judging, non-confrontational, non-bias way. From our own broken stories and weak spots, we know what it is like to have someone listen; someone to remind us that it is o.k. and that life will go on, someone to be present with us, someone who won’t run for the hills.
On February 2nd from 6-8pm, author and close friend Tim Madigan will be sharing about how Fred Rogers embodied his philosophy when Tim needed it most. In his book I’m Proud of You: My friendship with Fred Rogers, Tim Madigan said:
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, in that bleak season of 1997, I knelt in the front yard of my suburban Texas home, in a mood anything but festive, trying to arrange Christmas lights. Inside that home, my marriage was falling apart. I knew these might be the last holidays I would ever spend in this home, with this family. And as I worked, my mind raced with questions, all of them painful.
When would Catherine and I break the news to our two children—Melanie, who had just turned eighteen, and six-year-old Patrick? What words could we possibly use to soften then blow? Should we wait until after the holidays to tell them? Could we hold it together until then? What would my parents and Catherine’s family think when they heard? How much could I afford to pay for an apartment? Where would I find furniture?
There was also this question that day, one that cause as much shame and dread in me as the rest. How could I possibly tell my famous friend in Pittsburgh, Fred Rogers, the gentle icon of public television’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, that my wife and I were about to split up?…..
Each time I did, he responded with what can only be described as supernatural love, wholly without judgment, and with perfect clarity, wisdom and compassion. “Anything mentionable is manageable,” he would say, inviting me to share further. Or he would paraphrase his good friend, the Roman Catholic priest and celebrated author Henri Nouwen, by saying, “That which is most personal is most universal.” As I poured out my heart to Fred, beginning in those early days of our friendship, it bagan to seem like I was testing him, searching for a foible, for something I could say or do that would finally render him incapable of unconditional regard.
At such a turning point in Tim’s life, he needed someone to listen without “judgment, and with perfect clarity, wisdom and compassion”. Tim needed Fred Rogers.
We all need a Fred Rogers in our lives, especially at this time of year.
The holidays can be filled with much love, peace and joy, but they can also be filled with much fear, shame, guilt, and sadness for many. It is in times like these that we especially need someone to walk with us, someone to listen, someone who will allow us the freedom to unburden ourselves.
We want to encourage you to seek us out if you need someone to listen to your story. Also, please come and hear more about our friend Tim Madigan’s friendship with Fred Rogers on February 2nd. We promise that this philosophy will drastically change your life—as it has changed ours!
Anything mentionable is manageable today!