When work gets stressful at Guideposts and Mysterious Ways, I remember our founder, Norman Vincent Peale...
All last week I was stressed. Deadlines for our October/November issue of Mysterious Ways were looming, and with our staff preparing to move into new offices, there was more to do and less time to do it. I was looking forward to the weekend, a chance to relax at the beach in New Jersey with my family, and just get away from anything related to Guideposts.
On Saturday night, I went out with my wife, my parents and my in-laws to a restaurant in Bradley Beach, near where I grew up. My mom had made a reservation for 7:30, but we hadn’t made it there until 8:00. Our table was given away. We’d have to wait an hour. I sat outside the restaurant with my wife and our moms.
Even though I was a few blocks from the beach, far away from work, the wait started to make me feel stressed again. My brain thumbed through a list of worries: so many stories to edit, approvals to get, contracts to send out, all waiting for me on Monday.
Then a woman walked by. She stopped when she noticed us outside the restaurant and struck up a conversation. She was a character, to put it mildly—I’d never met someone so open, so honest about themselves to total strangers. Completely comfortable in her own skin, although she admitted it wasn’t always that way. She asked us what we did for a living, and I told her I worked for a magazine. “What magazine?” she asked.
“Guideposts,” I said. “It’s an inspirational...”
“Of course! I know Guideposts!” she exclaimed. “Do you know who founded it?”
“Norman Vincent Peale.”
“That’s right,” she said. “You see, I knew him.”
I never met Norman Vincent Peale. He’d died before I started working at Guideposts. So I was naturally curious to hear what the woman had to say.
“Dr. Peale was a friend of my uncle’s,” she told me. “My uncle was a circuit-riding preacher... do you know what that was?”
“Yes,” I said. As it happened, I had just finished editing a story about Francis Asbury, the original circuit-riding preacher, for the next issue of Mysterious Ways.
She told me that one moment she remembers clearly from her childhood is walking with her uncle in Ocean Grove near the Great Auditorium and hearing her uncle’s name shouted loudly from far away. Norman Vincent Peale came running, a full sprint from almost as far as she could see. When he finally got to them, out of breath, he wrapped her uncle in a bear hug.
“I thought he was going to knock him over, and Norman was not a big man,” she said. She told me that she marveled at how friendly Dr. Peale was, that he’d gone out of his way just to say hi. That was the sort of person Norman Vincent Peale was to her. “He made you feel special,” she said. Like your wellbeing mattered almost more than his own.
Our name was called; my family’s table was ready. We said goodbye to the colorful stranger, and I felt less stressed. After all, if Norman Vincent Peale could put in a little extra effort to spread his unique brand of positivity, so could I, right?
I look forward to sharing the next issue with you guys. Previews to come! Stay tuned.
As always, we’re seeking submissions. Send us yours and it could be in a future issue of Mysterious Ways!