Monday, February 23, 2009

Richly broken

In the barrage of news reports today surrounding the failing economy, CNN saw fit to make mention of an unlikely statistic. I've heard it before, but the retelling never fails to get a shake out of my head. It is estimated that nearly one-third of lottery winners become bankrupt.

Yeah, one-third.

The thought of anyone coming into a multi-million dollar windfall having to file for bankruptcy at all is absurd. How can it be that you spend your dollar and cast your dream only to end up worse off than you were to begin with? One of the individuals in the report actually won the New Jersey Lottery twice--twice! He's now now broke and living in a trailer.

It goes without saying that a large number of lottery winners end up making hasty, unwise decisions with their money ultimately leaving them penniless and far more miserable than that person that handed the Quicky-Mart clerk that dollar a few years ago. The thing that I've come to understand that warrants mentioning is the fact that money doesn't make you smarter, especially money acquired in such a way as the lottery. It does, however, remove the constraints that would otherwise train up a wiser, more successful individual. The lack of money forces one to be creative, frugal and patient. Remove those financial braces and unbound spending impulses often run a person ragged.

I don't thank God that I am less financially fortunate than my lottery-winning counterparts in the world, but I do thank Him for all that He has given me and all that He has kept away. I may not be smart enough to manage 5 million dollars with the creativity, frugality and patience required to sustain that wave of fortune through to the children of my children's children. I may be one day, but not before fully appreciating that this is a level of humility that winning ticket holders and windfall recipients all too often fail to master...or even consider.

I'm considering it. I hope He's up there watching.

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