Be a Helper

Mr. Rogers


I have loved Mr. Rogers as long as I can remember, and I have loved this quote as long as I have been cognizant of it, so was grateful to be reminded of it again and again today, as friend after friend reposted it on Facebook in response to Boston’s celebration turned tragedy.

There are always helpers. And Mr. Rogers’ mama is right: it is good to look for them. But, what seems even better to me is to be them: to be a helper, both before, and after tragedy. There are many ways that we can do this as brothers and sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the first is to really mourn, which ofttimes means really sit, really listen, really cry, and little more.

While some people may take comfort in scriptural injunctions that state (either implicitly or explicitly) that “all things work together for good to them that love God,” I am not necessarily one of them. Do good things sometimes come out of bad things? Absolutely. Does this even happen regularly? Maybe, probably. (And I could add: hopefully.) But, emphasizing the goodness or meaningfulness of suffering often fails to take suffering seriously. It simply doesn’t let mournful things be mournful. Worse still, it tends to justify the presence of evil, rather than work to eradicate it (which is a second important way to be a helper).

I would prefer to accept that sad things may be truly sad, and ‘leave ragged what is ragged.’ I believe God would too, because the scriptures tell me about times when God can’t say anything, but can only cry. One of these times is witnessed by Enoch. But another (as pointed out in one of the very best things I have ever read) is almost certainly when Christ was on the cross, for all intents and purposes, alone.

And so on this day, when part of my heart beats in Boston’s chest, I rejoice that the many friends and loved ones I met while living in that lovely town are safe, and pray and weep for those who are not. When I read articles, look at pictures, and watch video footage, I remember to search for the helpers, and feel profound gratitude because they are so easy to find. All the while I turn inward, asking myself how may be a helper, in this and other times of genuine tragedy.

Bless you, Boston. Bless you, everyone.


Rachel is a PhD student in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University. She co-edited _Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings_ with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright. She is also a lover of all things books and bikes.

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14 Responses

  1. Aimee says:

    So very well said, Rachel. I believe the Mormon god is the weeping God of Moses 7–the finite God who mourns for and with us in the face of life’s natural chaos and injustice. I need to believe that it’s that mournfulness and empathy for us that is the greatest manifestation of God’s divine presence in this world–especially on days like yesterday. I believe God is counting on us to be those helpers you speak of–to be divine healing hands who comfort one another by reaching through our pain to each other. Thank you for this confirming message and reminder.

    • Rachel says:

      That is the God I believe in. Again and again and again. Like you said, on days like yesterday, that unfortunately seem to mar too many todays.

      I also love knowing that God’s glory comes from bringing to pass our immortality and eternal life–rather than from being all powerful, or all knowing. And we really can become coworkers with God, in the real sorrows and real joys of life.

      You are most definitely welcome.

  2. newt says:

    How can I be a helper? That is our question, as Christians. Thank you for posting this, my Rachie dear. Miss you and your thoughtfulness.

  3. liz johnson says:

    This is so beautiful, Rachel. I just recently saw “Lars and the Real Girl” for the first time, and that part where the women come over and sit unexpectedly moved me to tears. It’s so true. I feel like we so often sit, paralyzed, unable to think of anything to do to help, especially when a national tragedy like this hits. But there are plenty around us suffering from all sorts of things – we might not be able to tie a tourniquet around a leg in Boston, but we can go sit with a friend suffering from infertility, or with a widow who’s lonely, or with our neighbor who is just having a bad day. We need to be the helpers. (now if I could just do this and not just say it…)

    • Rachel says:

      That film is gold, and that particular scenes is one of the most moving parts for me too. Because I think it really is that simple: to sit with those in their moments of loss. I love your reminder that we can sit with loved ones now, close by. We can. (Though yes, it is much easier said than done, for all of us.)

  4. Melissa DM says:

    Thanks Rachel. I tend to feel so helpless when something like this happens but your post reminds me that I’m not helpless at all. I really appreciate that.

  5. Elisse Newey says:

    Lovely and touching. Thank you for reminding me that while I may want to look away and pretend bad things don’t happen, my ability to empathize, to weep, to mourn and to help may be most god-like qualities. And that it is an honor and a duty as a member of the human family to exercise them.

    • Rachel says:

      You are welcome.

      Just this last week, I sat in a room with Terryl and Fiona Givens, as Fiona talked about Moses 7 where the ‘Weeping God’ is most clear. She mentioned how Enoch listed all of the attributes he thought he knew about God, and asked three times not why God was weeping, but how. She believes 1) that God’s vulnerability and ability to weep are actually the fundamental characteristics of God, and 2) that this instant disrupted everything for Enoch (in the best possible ways).

  6. Jessawhy says:

    Thank you for posting this. It’s so nice to remember that we have each other when tragedy strikes.
    I love Mr. Rogers. What a beautiful image.

    • Rachel says:

      You are welcome, Jessawhy. And we do have each other. We really do.

      Mr. Rogers is among the great ones.

      • Kelly Ann says:

        Yes, Rachel, thank you for sharing this. I very much relate to the idea of a weeping God. I cannot imagine that God would not weep in times like these.

  7. EmilyCC says:

    This is perfect on such a hard day. Thank you, my friend.

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