Irish or not, many of us love the idea of luck- lucky in love, lucky in the lottery, lucky in the March Madness bracket. We hope we’ll be lucky today… and tomorrow… and the next day. We have lucky numbers, and lucky rabbit’s feet, and any other lucky thing we think possesses that special edge, that special power that we can have, than no one else has. I mean, if everyone had the same special luck, then it’s not special, and we’re not lucky. We’re just like everyone else.
Luck just doesn’t exist. I hate to pop your bubble. Sorry. Somebody made it up on a bad day to get through a tough time, and then they sold it. To lots of us, and we bought it. And we buy it, time and time again. Why? It speaks to our desire to be comfortable and (dare I use the “H” word?) happy. We like comfortable and we like happy, so we like lucky. The idea also speaks to our pride. We have to fight the inner drive to be “special”, to be “above others”. Isn’t that what we say lucky is? “You got something the rest of us didn’t get- you’re lucky.”
Here’s my thinking (and you may not agree). If luck were real, then it is somehow a spiritual (and selective) force. If we could actually be lucky, then maybe there’s a way to influence this “force” to send it our way for what we want. (Body English, anyone? Wiggling finger tactics for the opponents’ foul shooter or field goal kicker?) If luck were real, how does it interact with other spiritual stuff? Is there a rank order of strength, like poker hand hierarchy- my voodoo doll beats your lucky lottery numbers, which trumps your tarot card?
What looks like luck is one of two things- random probability or the result of… hard work. Intentional, hard work. Aw, man, those just don’t sound as sexy as luck. John Milton famously said, “Luck is the residue of design,” meaning your efforts might look like luck to folks, and it’s usually because you worked very hard to make it so. This is especially true in relationships. If someone says they got lucky in love (not in the one night stand sense :0), there was an underlying sense that contributed to an emotionally healthy choice. We’ve learned a lot about how to make good choices.
So, even though it’s St. Patty’s (hey, I’m part Irish so I’m not bashing the fun), let’s accept the truth. Lucky is a fun idea, but it’s not real. It’s not powerful. It’s also not mentioned in the Bible. Yeah.
So have fun filling out your bracket or entering contests (hey, someone has to win- why not you?). Just keep the truth close at hand. Work hard and make your own luck.
Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.