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Playing the hand you have been dealt.

You can always tell the Fall season has arrived in full force.  The days get dark much sooner, the nights are cool and crisp and the garage is full of sweet apples ready to press into cider.  As Fall turns into Winter,  I enjoy watching our family move into seasonal rhythms which usually involve more hot chocolate, mom reading trilogy books to the family and of course, card games.

Monkey is a favorite card game in our home, because it is easy to learn, fun to play and involves a small amount of strategy.  And like with many card games, high cards are winners and low cards are losers.

Last night, Monkey was the card game of choice.  When I arrived at the table, the cards were already shuffled, dealt and waiting for each player.  I picked up my cards and began sorting them only to notice that I had almost no high cards and instead was stuffed to the gunnels with low card losers.

“Wow” I said, “I have almost no high cards.  Who shuffled these?”  No one responded.  Everyone just kept sorting their own cards with varying degrees of satisfaction with their prospects of winning the upcoming round.

“Well, you know. I still might win,” I said with a measured bit of confidence.

Then from across the table one of my kids responded, “I don’t think so Papa.  You have no high cards.”

The silence that followed only confirmed what everyone already knew, I most likely had no chance of winning.

The game started and cards began to be laid down.  I had some fortunate turn of events and was able to lay down a fair amount of cards rather quickly.  The game continued and things kept falling into place for me while everyone else seemed to be having a bit of trouble.  A few more times around the table and to everyone’s amazement, I laid down the last of my cards and won!  Smiles erupted around the table and congratulations were in order because I had been dealt the hand that no one wanted and won.

Reminds me of some sage advice I had heard earlier this year from a young man in his early thirties dealing with multiple sclerosis.  At the age of four, the doctor came out into the hospital waiting room to give the prognosis to two young parents.  News that would alter the course of their family’s life, permanently.

“I am sorry to tell you that your young son has multiple sclerosis.”

In a state of shock and sudden sadness, the two young parents looked into the eyes of the doctor and asked, “What does that mean and what are we suppose to do?”

“Well” the doctor replied with carefully chosen words and seasoned with compassion, “There will be a time of grief that you will need to allow yourselves to grow through.  But at some point, you will need to accept the hand you have been dealt, pick up your cards and learn to play them skillfully.”

My mother reminded me just the other day, that all of us walk into relationships with some level of damage.  All of us have hurts and pains both physically and emotionally at some level, either self imposed or forced upon us.  All of us have a game of Monkey that we are forced to play at various seasons of our lives with a less than ideal hand of cards to start with.

What happens when those seasons arrive and we perceive that we are dealt a loser hand?   Let the doctor’s words encourage you, “There will be a time of grief that you will need to allow yourselves to grow through.  But at some point, you will need to accept the hand you have been dealt, pick up your cards and learn to play them skillfully.”

Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

When seasons of “loser cards” seems to be your only lot in life, look to God.  He will show you how to play the game of Monkey with skill and lead you in ways that are designed for your benefit.  He loves to help you win using loser cards no one else wanted.

photo by D. Mike Collins

6 thoughts on “Playing the hand you have been dealt.”

  1. Beautifully put, Mike! I’m so glad you won that game in order for you to be inspired to write this. Thank you for sharing your thought provoking insights.

  2. This is great writing, and a great lesson. I’m going to be stealing your words and telling my team, “well, we’ve got to play the hand we’ve been dealt!”

    Now to translate that into spanish… 🙂

    1. Dear Chris, I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the reply. If you like, on my blog, left-hand side, half way down, there is a place to type in your e-mail. If you type it in, you will receive an automatic notice when a new post is made. I hope to post about one a week. Take care, Mike

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