I Didn’t Win the Lottery

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I didn’t win the lottery last week. I know. I was surprised too. I mean, I knew logically that I wasn’t going to win. But if I am honest, in the messiest parts of myself (and isn’t that what the Mudroom is for?) I think I honestly believed I was going to win. Even though there was a one in a billion chance. Even though I don’t think I believe in the Santa Clause God anymore, it has been kind of hard to quit Him, you know? I really, really want to believe in a magical being who will swoop in and give me the gifts that are nearest to my heart. And winning the lottery probably would have done that.

I don’t mean all inclusive vacations and new cars are dearest to my heart. But money buys security and I could use some of that. Lately, everything I write talks about how many transitions we are about to make. It occupies a lot of my brain space. It touches pretty much anything else I am thinking about. I would love to be able to say: wherever we end up, whatever we end up doing I don’t ever need to worry about money. Who cares if the house doesn’t sell! I’m a billionaire! I should give the house away for tax purposes! (I have no idea what that means either, “tax purposes” but it is something billionaires say.) I could fund every project I and my friends have ever dreamed of. I could make that world a better place. But mostly, if I had a billion dollars, I would feel safe against all this change.

I didn’t say I would be safe. I said I would feel safe. The Powerball ticket that I had to carefully read the directions to because I so rarely buy one was just my latest in wishing for something to come rescue me. The Lottery was just the most recent thing.

In high school the Left Behind series was sweeping through my church and high school alike. We talked a lot about the end days and more than once we whispered into the dark about how we hoped we’d get to be married before we got raptured. Even those of us with purity rings didn’t want to get raptured as a virgin. But there were more times that I was ready for Jesus to come, sometimes for good reasons. There were a few moments in high school I became so aware of the depth of brokenness of my peers I begged for Jesus to come. Other times it was simply because I was not ready for my math test.

Later, the future held the answer to all my problems. I won’t have to deal with this, when I am in college. I won’t have to deal with that, when I get my own apartment. This will all be better, when I have a degree, when I have the right job, when I am in the right relationship, when I can quit this job. There isn’t anything in the future that I won’t believe, at some point, will rescue me.

If only this one thing would come along and rescue me then everything would change. And I suppose, if I won the lottery everything would  change (God, couldn’t we at least try?). But I would not, I would not change. I would still be stubborn, and impulsive, and quick to anger especially when I am hungry. I would still be sure it was not my turn to get up with the kids even if I saw my husband get up the two times before that. I would not be changed.

Slowly, so slowly I am learning that the thing that needs to change is me. The circumstances butt up against me, and yeah, it hurts sometimes. But if I let them, they change me. And the work is so much slower than winning the lottery or being raptured, but I am learning  . . . slowly learning, that it is worth it.

Abby Norman

Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta. She swears a lot more than you would think for a public school teacher and mother of two under three. She can’t help that she loves all words.She believes in champagne for celebrating every day life, laughing until her stomach hurts and telling the truth, even when it is hard, maybe especially then.

Latest posts by Abby Norman (see all)

  • “The circumstances butt up against me, and yeah, it hurts sometimes. But if I let them, they change me. And the work is so much slower than winning the lottery or being raptured, but I am learning . . . slowly learning, that it is worth it.” Oh, yes, Abby, me too. I’m slowly learning. I think you and I are alike in many ways. Maybe that’s why I love you so. <3 Blessings!

    • Abby Norman

      I think so too!

  • The slow learning. Oh, it’s so hard, and I want to by-pass the process every time. Thank you for repeating the lesson here from your mud room — “It is worth it!” I always need to be reminded.

    • Abby Norman

      So hard. The slow learning is just so hard.

  • I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I draft a memoir. I used to want to be FIXED. Which I’m realizing is not the same thing as being made WHOLE. Love this, Abby.

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Abby, you write of a phenomenon of the times, the ‘Santa Claus’ god….IF we’re good, if we’re nice, if, if, if….’cause He sees us, and everything we do. I wonder if we aren’t perpetuating the myth for our children (or grandchildren) when we elevate Santa Claus to all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful. As if…as if God is like that–loving us conditionally, looking over our shoulders or keeping score. I realize this is a riff in a different direction than your post, but it gave me some food for thought.
    The line between God and magician is very thin; well written. Thank you.