Saturday, March 26, 2011

Does Anybody Ever Win Those Things?

This year our family won a trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. It was an all-expenses paid trip for four. Except for my being sick with a sinus infection most of the days we were there, it was a very nice trip. I won the trip in contest on Chunky Soup’s Facebook page. This was just one of many that I may enter on a weekly basis. This was the biggest trip I have ever won, but it is the third big trip I have won. Over the past several months I have been telling friends about winning the trip. I have been getting one of several responses from people. I appreciate those who say, “Your family deserves that after the year you all had.” Some people say to me, “You are so lucky. You win everything.” Others will say, “You won a sweepstakes? I didn’t think anyone ever won those things.”

To those that say our family deserves it, I can only say that it was nice to win and get away for a few days. I don’t think people that say this about us deserving it mean that there is some cosmic balancing of the scales that happens and I certainly don’t believe that. Life is a roller coaster of wonderful things that happen and not so wonderful things. Those that expect life to always be wonderful or who think that life going well is a sign of God’s blessing seem to spend a great deal of time dismayed by the frustrations of normal regular life in an imperfect world that is not ruled by the goodness of God. When we expect that “bad” things will happen to us, then we seem to take them more in stride when they occur; not that they are “easy” to bear or “no big deal”. We always need the grace of God and often need the support of others to help us through difficult times. We should also be grateful, I think, when we have those moments of blessing.

I was reflecting the other day about those statements about my luck or about the “win-ability” of contests. First of all, I have to say that for every contest I have ever won (and there have been several) there were dozens, if not hundreds, that I did not win. I have never won life-changing money. I have never won the Publisher’s Clearing House money. I have never won the Powerball or Mega Millions. I have never won a car. The three trips I have won are the biggest prizes I have ever won. The fact that I have played or entered thousands of times and won a handful of prizes doesn’t necessarily make me that lucky. The fact that I have played or entered thousands of times and won a handful of prizes doesn’t make me unlucky either. Many times I can say that I have cut the odds simply by entering a contest. (You can’t win if you don’t play.) However, it remains true that “Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t”.

That is where I started thinking about those who don’t believe that anyone ever wins a contest. How often do people don’t take a risk because they don’t believe that you can win. For years, I never risked trying to make friends because I didn’t believe that I would ever be able to find someone that really connected with. When I did venture out to lunch with others, sometimes I felt a good connection and other times I did not. I know of people who don’t really risk falling in love because they are so afraid of being hurt or rejected. If you can’t really “win”, then why play the game? It is sad. When it comes to contests, if you don’t play, you can’t win. If you do play, sometimes you lose, but sometimes you win great trips. (Other times you just win the latest CD by some band you never heard of.) The same is true in friendship and love. If you never venture out and make yourself vulnerable in some way, then you will never find a good connection. When you do venture out, sometimes you make great friends and sometimes you just get to know another person a little better.

Life without risk is definitely safer and each person must figure out how much he or she is willing to risk, but without some risk, there is a lot less chance for reward.