She rolls the dice. Her face is serious, concentrating on the outcome.
She smiles. She has rolled a winning number. She moves her piece along the cardboard game board and looks to me for approval. She is satisfied with her turn. I smile back at her. How I love to see her so proud.
She rolls again. This time she is able to knock off one of my pieces and advance her own. Her eyes light up and she giggles freely. I feign disappointment, making her laughter even louder.
She is winning the game. She is delighted.
It’s my turn to roll the dice. Now I can knock off one of her pieces. She is still unaware of this impending danger. I too pretend not to notice. We both contentedly continue our play.
She rolls once again. Her brow is furrowed, she looks anxious. It is a decisive round. The results are not in her favor. I authoritatively explain since the dice bounced off the board, the throw wasn’t valid. (Well, it kind of did.) She accepts my verdict gladly and rolls again. This time she scores a better number. We both smile as she teases me that she will win.
I try to follow the rules of the game. I know that, for her own benefit, I need to teach her how to graciously accept a setback. But with each roll of the dice, with each card that she uncovers, with each turn that she takes, I am inwardly holding my breath, secretly longing for her victory. I want her to smile, to giggle, and to feel good about herself.
Yet I also understand that I can’t completely break the rules of the game. For her own good.
So only when she’s not looking, only when I’m sure that she won’t notice my subterfuge, I make sure to give her an advantage in the game. Because I love her smile. Her carefree laughter. Her delight in her victories.
Because it hurts me more than anything to see her sad, to feel the heaviness of her defeat, to see her eyes downcast when she realizes that she has fallen short of winning. Because this means so much to her.
So my four year old and I continue our game. And as we play, and enjoy one another’s company, I think of You playing the game of life with each of us.
Do You, too, secretly throw in some moves that will help our victory? Do You overlook some ill-fated turns to help us get further ahead in reaching our objectives?
I know we’re not playing against You, but at times when we’re really down, it can feel like You or the forces that You created are, on some level, out to get us, holding us back from what we want so dearly. Are You really just rooting for us all along?
Do You follow the rules of our world, to help us grow as individuals? But also, do you keep bending the rules–at least somewhat–to make our play easier? To help us taste accomplishment?
Do You also feel so sad when You see Your children fall? When You see us disappointed or downcast, just short of our long-hoped for goals? Do you exult in our triumphs?
“I’ve won!” my little daughter announces happily as she throws the last dice to her victory.
“Yes, you have.” I revel in her victory while pretending disappointment.
Little does she realize that her success is truly ours; that my joy is even greater than her own.
Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers-Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at email@example.com. Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration.