Praying to win the lottery… or not.
Like every other American over the age of 18 as the Powerball is stretching far past the billion dollar mark, I found myself daydreaming about what winning such a windfall would mean for me, my family, my business and quiet life here in South Dakota.
The thought process starts with the basic math… the lump sum less 40% federal tax, less at least 10% tithing (20% tithing to assuage a bit of my Catholic guilt and maybe get on God’s good side so He’d consider me when it came time for the drawing), a large lump for family, leaving us with more money than we would ever be able to (responsibly) spend in a lifetime.
Of course I dream of the impact it could have on our community… feed the hungry, elevate our schools to the mythical ivory halls of learning, wipe out parish debts. Then to thoughts of how it would benefit our parents and siblings and their families…
Then something dark started to creep in. What if they spent it wrong? What if I didn’t like how they spent it or they ended up destroying their own lives with it like so many lottery winners before? (Already it's me vs. them and "them" is people who are more precious to me than anything in the world... this line of thinking isn't going to end where I thought it would.)
Of course I am too smart to let that happen to me because my judgement is perfect and under no scenario would I ever become a penniless has-been.
But then what? What of all those other friends and a bit-more-distant relatives who I love dearly? The line needs to be drawn, somewhere, right?
I read an article featuring a lottery winner who won $30 million, and somewhere it talked about how he found out who his real friends were.
That phrase stuck with me – “real friends”.
I don’t think being a “real friend” has anything to do with it. As I think of my small circle of truly close friends, it’s difficult to predict how I would respond if one of them were to suddenly happen upon millions of dollars. I’d like to assume that I would be ecstatically overjoyed for them - without any jealousy or feelings of entitlement, but I don’t think that’s how it would go in my heart and head.
So I can’t expect from them what I wouldn’t be able to do myself. ALL my friendships would shift in ways I can't predict.
As for family, no matter what amount we gave, a bit of me would always be paranoid that someone resented the amount they received.
What about my marriage? We have a solid marriage with a rock solid foundation… but $1.4 billion strong?
And finally … my girls. Would we be able to deny them their every whim? How would we ensure they’d learn the value of hard work?
And I’m sure there are piles of troubles that I didn’t think of (or didn’t want to even bring up). But this is plenty. So much is on the line already, what more convincing do I need that $1.4 billion has no place in my life.
How many of you have spent a bit of prayer on asking for God to give you the chance to prove what a great person you would be if you won the grotesquely large jackpot? I will sheepishly admit to this too.
But the more I reflect and pray on what I’m REALLY asking for, the less appealing the jackpot becomes. Loss of priceless friends and family?
How about just a million bucks instead? I could totally live with that.