MUELLER: Look forward with hope

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By Bob Mueller

It is my deepest feeling that the major problem of people is that they do not have a high enough opinion of themselves.
They feel guilt and shame, unworthiness and inadequacy.
Feeling these emotions, many people run from life and never live up to their best.
If we do not have the right opinion of ourselves, we will not properly love others.
My basic message is always: “Love yourself, recover your sense of wonder and look forward hopefully.”
The date of Sept. 11, 2001 marks a tragic episode in world history that we will never forget.
When we are troubled, we must remember our need for each other.
At a funeral service for a lovely mother, I was deeply impressed as the four children stayed so close to their father and to each other.
At this time of great sorrow there was a real need. In times of illness it means a lot to know that somebody cares.
In fact, in our latter years, having the realization that somebody loves you is one of the most stimulating experiences of life.
Two songs that have been around a long time are “Just Walking in the Rain” and “Singing in the Rain.”  
The two go together; when the rain comes into your life and everything seems dark and dreary, keep walking – don’t stop. And as you walk, you will begin to sing.
We can’t prevent the rain from coming, but through faith in our inner resources and with our Higher Power working in us and for us, we can learn to sing in the rain.
When you hurt, the temptation is to complain. But when your heart is trusting in your Higher Power, the resulting song in your heart will dry your tears.
Sarah Williams wrote a poem called “The Old Astronomer.”  
In that poem are these lines that have comforted me in light of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Though my soul may set in darkness
It will rise in perfect light,
I have loved these stars too fondly
To be fearful of the night.”
Many people whom I’ve never met have more influence on my writing than they could possibly imagine.
These are the people who read my articles and books and graciously take the time to tell me how their lives have been enriched.
Few things in life are more powerful than positive feedback.
It affects us in two ways: first, it affirms us – it tells us that we did something well, that our hard work was worth the effort, and that it was appreciated. Second, it encourages us to continue – to build on what we’ve achieved and to add to it.
These are exactly the effects the phone calls, letters and e-mails from people of all ages and walks of life have had on this writer.
Two of the words that have been used most frequently by these readers are “upbeat” and “inspiring.”  
Since these happen to be two of my favorite words, as well as two of my main goals in writing, they’re always music to my ears. Another positive word that’s come up is hope, as in, “You’ve given me hope.”  
These usually come from readers experiencing hard times: prisoners, people going through a divorce or other form of loss, and those coping with illness, addiction or financial problems.
While I make no effort or claim to be a therapist, it’s deeply gratifying to learn that my writings have helped other people.
A few years ago I was being interviewed about my first book, Look Forward Hopefully. The interviewer said, “So, we finally get to meet someone who has it all figured out. I guess you’re just up and happy all the time. Tell us how you do it.”  
I laughed – not at the interviewer, but at myself. I told him the same thing I tell all the people who contact me. Like everyone else, I’m a work in progress. I have some major flaws that I’ve been working on for a long time, and I don’t claim to have it all figured out.
But I’m a lot closer now than I was 10 or 20 years ago, mainly because of the mistakes I’ve made and what I’ve learned from them. And I’m not “up and happy all the time.”  I don’t think anyone is.
Fortunately, I am most of the time simply because of two of the greatest truths I’ve learned along the way:
Every mistake is an opportunity to improve and grow.
It’s never too late to change.
There is a wonderful life within reach of every person – our promised land. This rainbow means the storm has passed. It is a symbol calling us to look forward hopefully.

Bob Mueller is the assistant vice president of mission & stewardship at Hosparus. For information, visit www.bobmueller.org. The views in this column are those of the writer.