By Helena Rodriguez: Local Columnist
Many people don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they’ll break them. But my resolutions, which I’ve been slow in revealing, are based on years of hard work, prayers and recent dreams I’ve had to reaffirm them.
Life is not a gamble, so I’ve made a big decision to completely stop gambling — something that started off as a wishful pastime but escalated into an addiction after I purchased my first lottery ticket in Texas about 14 years ago when my daughter Laura was a baby.
Yeah, lottery tickets have telephone numbers in fine print at the bottom for gamblers’ anonymous. But I never considered myself an addict until one day, a few years ago, when I realized I spent my last dollar on a lottery ticket. My car was running on empty, my refrigerator was empty and payday was still a few days away. I promised myself that would never happen again, but it did.
I made a few unsuccessful attempts to stop buying lottery tickets, but I’d always go back. Instead of putting my faith in God and my God-given abilities, I thought that was the only way I could finance my dreams of going back to school to get a doctorate degree, of becoming a successful writer and buying a house.
But after I experienced a spiritual reawakening a few years ago and have since tried to walk closer to God, this gambling issue has weighed me down. I’ve known deep inside that I have to let it go regardless of a misleading dream about five years ago in which I won $10,000. The dream felt so real. I could taste the money. So I kept buying tickets several times a week, even though I knew God was trying to tell me something. After having three recent dreams that have helped shaped my resolutions, though, I had another dream one night that told me point blank it was time to stop gambling.
I dreamed that another woman and I were on a stage and it was down to us two to determine who would win $10,000. When the other lady’s name was called, I was crushed. Then I woke up knowing I was never going to win with lottery.
Even more importantly, I realized I wasn’t a loser because I didn’t have the winning ticket. It was because I wasn’t putting my faith in God.
Gambling conflicted with my beliefs, particularly after reading recent stories of how other lottery winners squandered away their winnings, making their lives a living hell, and contributing to many of their early demises. More importantly, I felt guilty when I realized I was spending more on lottery than I was giving to my church. I know some lottery money helps finance scholarships, but look at what it does to families, and I consider my case a mild addiction, spending between $20 to $30 a week.
Around the same time I had three other dreams of impact. In one, I was driving my car and it started going in reverse and I couldn’t stop it until — get this — my daughter Laura helped me.
The two other dreams were inspiring.
In both dreams, I was afraid to go down a slide, but I finally went down — again with the encouragement of Laura. I just let go and enjoyed the adventurous ride of a lifetime and found it completely fulfilling.
In both dreams, I couldn’t see the slide I was going down. It was like a tunnel, but I entered the slide blindly and just let go.
And in both dreams, when I got to the end of the slide, I looked up amazingly and only then could I see the steep plunges and sharp, daring curves that had twirled my body around.
The most significant part of these dreams was the statement I made as I looked back up the slide: “Wow, I’m glad I went down that slide. There’s no way I would have ever gone down this slide if I had been able to see everything I was going to have to go through.”
When I awoke, I kept saying “Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus!” I knew it was time to let go of my insecurities, to follow my dreams — my resolutions — even if that meant feeling blinded for awhile as I allow God to guide me, knowing my resolutions will be accomplished through hard work and faith.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org