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Chutes and Ladders, Solitaire, and Life


You already know I’m something of a podcast junkie.  I straight up binge-listen to these conversations.  For an auditory learner, they’re music to my ears.  (Literally.  As in, I prefer them over actual music.)

I’m spending a lot of my car-time these days with Jen Hatmaker on her new podcast, For The Love.  Her current series is called For the Love of Girlfriends, and she’s invited some of her best girlfriends – or women who advocate and display the beauty of girlfriend relationships.  It’s a beautiful and refreshing dialogue to listen to, because you think you’re listening to one thing, and then something entirely different and awesome emerges.

Jen finishes each interview with the same handful of questions for the guest.  One is, “You know I really love you if I ever do *blank* for you.”  Every time she asks this, I always answer aloud in my car (as if Jen herself is asking me and listening).

(I always yell toward the car speaker: “If I’ll talk to you on the phone!”  Seriously.  What isn’t textable?  Anyway, I digress.)

Jen did this great interview with Annie F. Downs, where they talked about a dozen things that I love, including glitter and courage and writing and Tina Fey.  I snagged this transcript from Jen Hatmaker’s blog, because I love-love-loved what Annie had to say about the nonsense of Chutes and Ladders, the beauty of solitaire, and how we often forget that God created us to play our own game.

* * *

Jen:   Finish this sentence for us. “You know I really love you if I ever do *blank* for you.”

Annie:  If I play board games with you I really love you because, I just I do not feel board games.

Jen:  I call them “bored” games. B-O-R-E-D games.

Annie:  Thank you. Thank you. It just is. I’m like, “Can’t we just talk to each other? Can’t we just laugh? Can’t we just sit outside and look at the sky? I don’t know. There’s like nine things I want to do before I want to play board games with you. If we have an hour and a half and you want to hang out, let’s get in the car and go somewhere. Let’s not like sit at your house and play Jenga. What are we doing?

Jen:  Right.

Annie:  So if I play board games with you, which there is a family in Nashville that we play board games all the time, and I hope they listen to this and I hope they go “oh my gosh. Annie loves us more than we realized.” Because it is like “what’s the game tonight?” I’m like, “Okay, I don’t want to go home. So let’s play.”

Jen:  Listen, I might just suggest you may consider also never having kids because that’s what they want to do, and I’m like “Fix it Jesus. I don’t want to be your friend. I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t want to play Chutes and Ladders. That game sucks.”

Annie:  I cannot believe you said Chutes and Ladders. I literally wrote an entire chapter of my new book about Chutes and Ladders.

Jen:  What?

Annie:  It’s because I played with one of my friends that was five, and he was beating me and I’m not kidding you, I was losing my cool.  I realized, because it’s so random–this is going to get way deeper than you want it to–but chutes and ladders is so random. He rolls a four and gets to ladder up 20, and I roll a six and I shoot down five.

Jen:  Where’s the justice in that?

Annie:  Right. I realized that I felt like my whole life was playing Chutes and Ladders with everyone–I’ve been able to keep doing the best I can do and I’m hitting chutes all the time and everyone else is hitting ladders.
I realized like, all my life, I am acting like we’re all playing on the same board game and we’re not. That’s not how God created us. It’s almost like we’re all playing solitaire. You know, we’re all playing our own game of solitaire, because you know, here’s what I learned; when you play solitaire with a deck of cards, the amount of variety of how many different unique deals you can have from start to finish of the game, if you play the game with no human error, it’s eight times ten to the sixty seventh power.

“I am acting like we’re
all playing on the same
board game
and we’re not.

That’s not how God created us.”

~ Annie F. Downs

Jen:  Wow.

Annie:  That’s how many different varieties of one deck can give you of solitaire. That’s what our lives are right as each playing our own deck, helping each other out, but if you win it doesn’t have any effect on my deck.

Jen:  That’s good.

Annie:  I’m just doing the best I can with the cards God dealt me, instead of feeling like we’re playing Chutes and Ladders.

Jen:  That’s good, I’m constantly battling against that scarcity mentality that says, “more for you means less for me,” or vice versa because we’re all playing with our own deck.

Annie:  Yes, so you’re thinking I’m getting ladders and you’re getting chutes when the reality is we’re dealt really differently. The best thing I can do is sit across from you and go, “hey, did you see that you can stack that Queen on that King?”

“”The best thing I can do
is help you play your game really well.”

~ Annie F. Downs

Jen:  Mmm, that’s so good.

Annie:  The best thing I can do is help you play your game really well because it is not scarcity. It doesn’t mean I lose if you win, it means that my deck actually doesn’t change a bit.

Jen:  Hey, nice job parlaying that into a really meaningful point.

Annie:  That’s what the whole chapter is about so free chapter for everybody.

* * *

Success for somebody else isn’t a loss for your life’s game.

When somebody else wins, it actually doesn’t affect your deck even a little.

I loved everything about this.  Makes me want to break out a deck of cards.  Metaphorically.

Tricia Lott Williford

Comments are closed

  1. I did not get most of this until the very end it was like the trump card was played. No pun intended! Its definitely a trap we fall into where we compare our lives life to one anothers! Thanks for the reminder that we are dealt a different deck and it does not mean that we lose because our deck looks different in the end!

  2. Ahhhhh! My worlds are colliding. Annie is friend from college, and now you guys are ‘friends’ too! I think you guys would like each other. (Saying this as if I know you personally, HA ;-))

  3. This story reminds me – DO NOT compare my life to anyone else! I have my deck of cards & they have theirs. Thanks for that picture.

  4. LOVE this!

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