Stay In The Game

If I had to give a subtitle to this post, I would call it “Pass Go & Collect $200.”

Remember the game Monopoly? As a child I was interested in the fake money involved, so I loved the game. As I got older, I didn’t like the game so much because it took so long to play. Furthermore, my brother, Cedric, would brag throughout the entire game that he was the Monopoly champion.  (He’s still bragging to this present day.)  Though I dislike Monopoly because it requires me to stay in the game even when I’m ready to quit (make a mental note of that), I found so many practical lessons in the game. Allow me to give a brief explanation of how the game is played. Each player begins the game with $1,500 from the bank. As the players take a turn, he or she finds themselves landing places that create different scenarios: he or she has to pay a bill or fine, is able to purchase the property on which he or she lands, or is instructed to go to jail without passing go and collecting their coinT (<– intentional bad grammar).  If the player picks up a Chance Card or rolls the dice that leads him or her to or pass “Go,”  he or she automatically accrues a $200 salary.  While playing this game, it is possible to become very rich or very poor.  If that player is lucky, he or she will pull a card that gives a benefit like free parking. The object of the game is to end the game as the wealthiest player, but regardless of your luck, you have to stay in the game until you are completely depletedUntil then, the game is not over for you. Got it?  Keep all of that in mind as I proceed.

Throughout my adolescence, I had a several ideas of what I wanted to “be when I grew up.” My possible career paths included but were not limited to being a cosmetologist, a pediatrician, an interior designer, a business owner, an elementary school teacher, a professional singer (preferably jazz), and the list goes on. On top of that, I knew very early on that when I became an adult I wanted to be a wife and mother. Lastly, (as I reminded my mother so often) by the time I was 21 years old, I wanted to buy a home adorned with a red, front loading washing machine and dryer. (Don’t laugh at my dreams, y’all!) WELL, needless to say, things didn’t turn out as I dreamed they would. I started off with good intentions and even a plan but life walked me into situations where I sometimes had to make choices against my ultimate plan.  (Read any of my other blogs for confirmation!)  I moved to Northern VA at 17, I got married at 19, I was alone again before I could turn 20, I went into career fields that didn’t line up with my passions, I got into debt, and I became personal and emotional wreck. Like playing a game of Monopoly, I kept landing on places where I ended up owing somebody or having to pay a fine. I seemed to be in a perpetual cycle of “paying the price.” I am now roughly a decade away from my time in Northern VA and my walk down the aisle at 19, but I have spent the last few years of my life trying to pull my life back together. There were several times that I wanted to toss in my imaginary towel and quit…but I couldn’t. The game wasn’t over, and even with as little as I THOUGHT that I had, I was not depleted yet… So the game continued.

Here is the beauty of the game of Monopoly: there is the possibility of bouncing back. Lets say you don’t own a property on Boardwalk but you own one utility company.  That one “business” provides the means to recover. I personally felt like I kept walking into dead end situations: jobs with no room for advancement or possibility for a raise, relationships and friendships that were unbalanced and unhealthy, etc. But what I failed to see were the things that were keeping me afloat. I still had skills and talents, I had a lot of passion and a little bit of hope, but most importantly I still had God, and He was building my faith. Somewhere in the game, between paying a fine and getting sent to jail without collecting $200 (metaphorically speaking), the odds were turning in my favor! I didn’t own a property on Boardwalk, but I had something…and I worked it.

Oblige me as I tell you a little story from one of my favorite books…The Bible! 🙂

2 Kings 4:1-7 (referencing the Message Bible)

There once this widow of a prophet who had two sons.  Her husband had passed leaving her with debt, and the creditors were threatening to take her sons into slavery as repayment. This widow went to the prophet, Elijah, with whom her husband once served, and told him of her situation.  He then asked her ” What do you have in your house?”  She replied, “NOTHING… Well, I do have a little oil.” Elijah then instructs her to borrow pots, jugs, and bowls from her neighbors..all that she can get, come home with only her sons, and then lock the door.  Next she was instructed to pour oil into each container until it was full.  Out of obedience, she did just that and poured until all of the pots, jugs, and bowls were filled.  It wasn’t until the last pot was filled that her supply of oil dried up.  His last instruction to the widow was to sell the oil,  clear her debts, and live off the rest of it with her sons.

(Side note, rectify your debts, people; they pass on to your loved ones when you leave here!  Oh, and GoFundMe and life insurance aren’t created equally.  Amen?  Amen.)

THE MORAL OF THE STORY:

Plain and simple: You have enough to bounce back. I probably could have said that from the start and saved you at least 5 minutes of reading, but that would defeat the purpose of blogging…duh!  Like this widow, your focus is probably a little off.  I’m not trying to be offensive, I’m just saying…  More likely than not, you can see your issues first.  In her case, it was the loss of her husband, the debt that remained, and the threat of losing her sons too.  When asked to take “inventory” of what she still had, her first response was, “Nothing!”  Like this widow, we often times discount what little we have to work with because it wasn’t as much as we once had.  So you look at your paycheck that is less than what you once made and say, “I have nothing.”  You take note of the one friendship that remains compared to the gang of friends you once had and say, “I have nothing.”  You become discouraged at the last chance you have left compared to the many opportunities that didn’t work out and say, “I have nothing.”  But is that true?  It looks to me like you have something.  So all you have left is one friend, a fixed income, or one last shot… The widow only had a little oil and the sense to go ask someone [qualified] what to do with it.  Miraculously, that lil’ bit she had (I said that in a ratchet tone) was just enough to fill enough pots, jugs, and bowls to not only pay her debt but leave her with a lil’ somethin ‘ somethin’.  “Little becomes much when you place it in the hands of the master.”

*insert smile*

Sugar Pie Honey Bun, you have more than enough to stay in the game.  So maybe the Monopoly game of your life keeps landing you in spaces where you have to endure losses.  Maybe you find yourself tired of the long trek around the board especially when you have to keep passing Boardwalk.  Keep going, my love, keep going!  Why?  Because if life allows you to draw the chance card or roll the dice that will direct you to OR pass “Go,”  you get to collect $200.  And even if what you gain along the way is only enough to keep you in the game, if you’re in, you’re in and there’s still the chance that you might win!

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