Have you ever said those words? “If I won the lottery, I would…” I lost track of the number of times I said that in the past. I don’t say it anymore. And there’s a reason for that.
I grew up in a family that was middle to middle upper class. My father was a worker for IBM earning a considerable wage as compared to most others his age in the town I lived in. Other than having the responsibilities to raise two children, my mother also worked as an assistant librarian at the local public library in my hometown. I was raised in a mid-size single family home with a pool in the backyard. From my perspective as a dependent child, I was never poor and my parents never spoke about not having enough money to do the things they wanted. When I left home and went to college, they even paid in full for my tuition. I was only responsible for my day to day fun expenditures which a part-time job afforded me those things.
I never thought about the lottery until my parents cut the umbilical cord of financial support when I graduated from college and was on my own in my first corporate job. In January of 1995, at the age of 23, I was earning a pretty substantial wage of $34,000 a year. Except as I soon found out, my brain said that it wasn’t enough. Some may say I had a silver spoon childhood. Truthfully, I probably did. My parents tried to make up for their dysfunctional state by having the best of the best things for themselves as well as for my sister and I. When I became independent from them, I still wanted all those “nice shiny things” as I like to put it. That’s when I started playing the lottery, especially on those weeks that it passed the $100 million mark.
While my spending habits never got out of control, I daydreamed often of having more. Sitting in a sea of cubes and staring at a computer monitor all day, I wished for a better life never realizing that I had a pretty decent one. I sat and socialized at times with my co-workers about what I’d do if I won the lottery. Everything I said was self-centered. I’d buy this, I’d buy that. I’d travel here, I’d travel there. I’d retire early. I’d have my own personal cook. And until those numbers were announced, I’d hold my breath and convince myself that I was going to be the next multi-millionaire. I never was. But something else happened…
My grandparents and parents all passed away between the years of 1996 and 2005 and each left my sister and I their life savings. While it was not the $100 million lottery winnings, it was quite substantial. Suddenly, those “nice shiny things” were within my grasp.
I bought multiple cars and multiple houses, new clothes, travelled the world, purchased the latest and greatest gadgets, and soon found myself with the same feeling I had when I sat in my cube wishing I would win the lottery…empty. Having the best of the best where I was in charge of my own money flow and not waiting for each paycheck didn’t bring any more happiness. If anything, it drove me to worry more about not having enough money and still thinking about winning the lottery. And yes, even with all that money, I continued to play the lottery.
It’s one of the greatest illusions in this world. When I didn’t have enough money, I did what I could to get more of what I want. And when I finally got more and really have enough, I worried about losing it, hoarded what I had, and chased after more.
Having all the “nice shiny things” in the world never did make me any happier. Instead, it made me more miserable. People stayed in my life because of what I had, or could give them, and not for just being a good guy with a good heart. The real truth though was that the more I had, the more I didn’t live in my heart and the more I lived that way, the more I became selfish and self-centered.
Along the way of living like that, I began to lose everything. First my heart and soul broke apart, then my mind, then most of my possessions, then my friends and relationships dissipated, and finally my health deteriorated. People say that when you really hit a deep bottom in life, that it’s the best place God can come in and do great work. I had no where else to turn, and I had lived in so much self-will and indulgence with no peace that I felt God would be the only one to show me what true peace really was. So I prayed.
“Dear God, I’ve had a taste of just about everything and never found any real happiness. I’ve been addicted to so many things and hurt myself and everyone around me in the process. My health has deteriorated and I’m lost and I’m broken. Please put me through whatever it is that I need to go through to find everlasting peace and happiness with You at the center of my life and to become a more selfless person in this lifetime. Please place the broken pieces together as You see fit. May Thy will not mine be done. I love you. Amen.”
That prayer changed my life. Words are a powerful thing, but so is a selfless prayer to God.
While I’m still in the throngs of the energetic shift that’s happened since that prayer, I don’t daydream anymore about what I’d do if I won the lottery or had a lot of money. I know what I did when I had enough. I squandered it, lost myself, and my way. My viewpoint has changed now. I’d rather be poor in finances and rich in spirit. I’d rather have a friend or two who love me for me rather than a ton of friends who want me for what I can give them. And I’d rather have old clothes and old possessions, and a new heart and new soul supercharged with God at the center.
I starting to have a much better outlook on my life today and beginning to feel more at peace. I still have rough days with my health and with this shift I’m going through. In fact, as I write this, I am enduring physical pain. But I’m looking at the bright side of it now. I know it’s not pain coming from what I’m doing anymore and I believe it’s all what I did that is leaving me.
Having all the money in the world did nothing other than make me more miserable. What I seek today is to heal from all of what happened when I thought I had everything and to have a richness in a God-centered life. For what money that still becomes part of my life, I’m living day to day in a more conservative fashion. Ironically, I’m still using an Iphone 3GS that was manufactured in 2009. Go figure.
I’ll end with this…Occasionally, when the lottery gets into the $250 million plus range as it sometimes gets, I still purchase a ticket or two. I do it more out of fun knowing I don’t have a remote chance to win it, and never really did. And I do it as well for I know that if I for whatever reason did win, there would be a lot of people in this world who have next to nothing that would benefit from it more than I would. In a spiritually centered God driven life, money has become only a tool to survive day to day and to give back with it as God sees fit.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson