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Friday, January 29, 2010

Why I Don't Like Statistics

When I was in high school I served as our basketball teams' statistician. I absolutely loved it. When I wasn't keeping the official green book, I used a legal-sized piece of paper, turned sideways on a clipboard, with a homemade chart for marking every detail of the basketball game. There were usually three of us on the bench, eyes glued to the court, trying to catch every single steal, assist, shot attempt, rebound, and turnover. Back then I didn't think much about statistics, at least where sports were concerned. It was pretty cut-and-dry. At the end of the school year we would figure up the percentages for the athletic awards ceremony based upon all of those stat sheets throughout the year. Awards were given to the player with the best field goal percentage, the best free throw percentage, the most steals, and so on. It was a simple thing, really. The numbers pretty much told the story.

When it comes to real life, I don't really like statistics. They never do seem to tell the whole story. What matters, of course, is what side of them you happen to be on.

I've never cared for the statistic that says that people who come from divorced parents are twice as likely to get divorced. I'm not saying there's absolutely no data out there to support the claim, and it's true that statistics are only meant to be a sampling. There's no way they could apply to and be true for everyone. Still, I don't like the assumption that the odds are against me simply because my parents' marriage didn't work. I like knowing there is room for me to break that cycle. I realize that, like the first line of one of my favorite Caedmon's Call songs says, "I come from a long line of leavers." There is a lot of divorce in my family, but I don't for a second believe that it means our marriage is doomed. I believe we can change that trend. With that considered, I believe that sometimes it's a good thing to be on the "wrong side" of a statistic.

As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm also not a fan of infertility-related statistics. I know that sometimes they are used to try to make you feel better. Even at our last appointment, our doctor went through the run-down of miscarriage percentages. Right now I have about a 20% chance of miscarrying (considering the stage of this pregnancy only). If we see a heartbeat, that number will go down, and it will continue to decrease as we see more and more development, such as arm and leg buds, etc. And that's all wonderful to hear, except that I've been on the wrong side of those statistics, too.

It's hard for me to take comfort in those numbers. I've seen those wonderful baby heartbeats before. We even saw our baby's arm and leg buds on an ultrasound screen for our 4th pregnancy! But it doesn't mean much when you find out that you're still in the small percentage of people who will lose their baby. Some sources say that after 4 pregnancies and no live births, my chances of having this baby are between 0 and 5%. I haven't looked up one for 6 pregnancies and no live births because I just don't want to know. I think I'm much better off not knowing what the numbers say and hoping that I can beat the odds. This is definitely another trend I'm determined to break.

Fortunately I've reached a point where I'm simply annoyed by statistics. I don't put my trust in them; I put my trust in the Creator of heaven and earth, and the One who made me and loved me first. I know that nothing is impossible with God. (Interesting side note: Did you know that when that verse is used in Luke 1:37, the topic of conversation is that Elizabeth, who was barren, is having a child? I love that!)

To bring this post full-circle (and if you'll pardon me for the basketball analogy), something else I learned as a statistician is that the person who gets awarded is usually the person who took the most shots. Sure, the important part is making them. But you can't expect to make the shot if you aren't first brave enough to attempt it. I'm hoping that this time for me will be a lot like the time the guy in my class who played center, the biggest guy on the team, took that wild, one-in-a-million shot from behind the three-point line... and he made it.

The odds were totally against that shot, but boy, was it worth it -- to him and to everyone who was cheering him on!

30 comments:

Ro-bear said...

From someone who sat on that bench with you for a season or so, I agree that statistics can be annoying. God doesn't care about statistics. Thankfully, we aren't just a statistic to Him. Great post! Oh, and I remember that one in a million shot by "Tree." (I'm sure he would disagree with those odds, though!)

gg said...

love this post and analogy. you are such an amazing person. love how your eyes, heart, and mouth are so open to god and letting him speak through you.

Andi said...

Right on! (And don't even get me started about that STUPID statistic about a woman over a certain age being more likely to get attacked by a terrorist than getting married!)

Um, for the life of me I can't remember the classmate you're talking about.

I want you to write a book.

Marian said...

Amen Sister!!! I like to be on the wrong side of the stats too!! You are so right...WITH GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

Connie said...

Oh, boy, did I love those days! Such fun times! Remember the time I walked in on the ref that I had a huge crush on as he was changing into his ref uniform?! LOL!

Come on, Andi! Here's his initials, KC. Surely you remember the year Toby did the same thing to win District?! That was an amazing shot! Fun Times! :)

Yes....you should write a book! You can dedicate it to me! :)

Michelle said...

I hate them too. I am hoping I beat the 0 for 4 pregnancy one. The chances of having an ectopic pregnancy in my cervix is 1 in 18,000. I had that so hopefully I can beat a good statistic. I hope you can too! Sending my continues prayers!

Stacey said...

@Michelle, I am pulling for you and all of my IF friends! I believe we can beat these ugly statistics. Prayers coming your way too.

Queen Stuss said...

I hate statistics too!
Someone has to be that 1%, don't they?
I'm praying that you won't 'be a statistic' this time.

Jennifer said...

I love this post. It was amazing!! Just what I needed to hear today too! I am with you on the statistics!! I hope and pray they are wrong! (I know I used a lot of exclamation marks, but I can't help it. ha...)

mrsblondies said...

I love your analogy and the best part is the last two paragraphs.

MG said...

Great post. Thanks for encouraging me today. I needed to be reminded of God's sovereignty and control. Too cool with the Luke 1:37 reference. Thinking of and praying for you every day. Asking for a miracle for you!!! Much love.

Andrea said...

"You can't make the shot if you're not brave enought to attempt it"

Stacy, I love that you look at this so optimisticaly. It's so easy to get caught up in the stat's and let them dampen your spirits. Recently, I was overwhelmed by what I read and have decided to throw statistics to the wind! You are right, it matters what side of the stat you are on...and we are both going to be on the WINNING side!

Overall, I know "he" directs our steps and will show us the way to the finish line :) I feel confident for you and I feel confident for me.

Thank you for this well written post, as it lifted my spirits in profound ways.

xoxo

Noelle said...

Thank you for such a beautiful post. I did not know that the verse you mentioned was in that part of the bible. I will remember that.

Melody said...

I'm cheering you on my friend and praying for you to beat all those crazy stats. Stats/Schmats....who needs them anyway.

Amy said...

This reminds me, in some ways, of another friend's blog. When she was in her second pregnancy, she started leaking amniotic fluid at 18 weeks (she had also had complications with her first pregnancy and one or two miscarriages). She was put in immediate bedrest from 18 weeks on...a heck of a long time. As you can imagine, she blogged constantly because there wasn't much else to do. With each blog, she would realistically look at the statistics of the chances of that baby boy surviving. They hoped for the best, but planned for the worst. They prayed and trusted, yet considered the cost of a funeral after 20 weeks.
Needless to say, the odds were not in that little guys favor. But, as we have seen many times, God is not a God of statistics (thank goodness). He made it, even being born 8 weeks early, and is almost 18 mos. old now. His mama constantly talks about what could have happened, because it could have.
I'm understand not liking statistics. No one likes looking at the odds after miscarriages. But we trust...and pray...and love this baby growing inside of you. Love you, too. :)

Katie said...

Yep, been on the wrong side of statistics so many times (and that's why my blog title :)). Saw a heartbeat, legs, arms, movement. . . only to have the baby die. Had seven miscarriages, no live births. . . and the chances of carrying to term were low. As much as it sucks to be on the wrong side of the statistics, you are right, you have to take risks to end up on the right side of them.

Here's hoping that this time, you are in the majority. It is certainly about time!

Oh! But I do hope you are in the smaller statistic of people that get NO morning sickness! That would be nice!

DeniFay said...

Beautifully put!! I found myself just praying for you in the middle of the day today & didn't really even realize what I was doing, so I KNOW God is alive and well and working miracles!!! You're right that you can't succeed if you don't try!!! Beat those odds sister, I'm in your cheering section!!

Mrs.Spit said...

After our son died, when we sat in front of a specialist, they quotes the odds I would get sick again, and the odds another baby would die and on and on, and then the she looked at us, and told us that in many ways, the statistics are 0 or 100. Either a subsequent child lives, or they don't.

I remind myself, statistics aren't surprising to God.

Sharon said...

Stacey, given our shared (miserable) mc histories, I have to say, I'm totally with you on the statistics and my distrust and distate for them. I too read the horrible one about the 0 - 5% chance of live birth after 4 miscarriages, its not encouraging, but the point is, it does happen and with God on your side, anything is possible.
Stay strong sista!!!

waiting and wishing said...

I love a good analogy and yours seemed absolutly perfect for this situation. I am praying that you are on the other side fo the statistics this time around!

Hope in Virginia said...

Stats shmats! God is in control!

Journeymark Cards & Gifts said...

Stacey, this was a great post. Thanks for sharing with us. It is easy in our culture to get caught up in statistics, whether they be for infertility, divorce, or addictions. Psalm 4:1 came to mind as God hears us when we call to Him. That just brings peace to my heart.

I love you friend and am continuing to pray over you daily.
Jessica

twondra said...

Love this post girl. You always write the neatest things...thank you for that.

Thanks for being such a wonderful friend. :) Love you!!

Becky said...

I am with you, I don't like statistics either, mostly because I feel I was misled by them. Apparently, I just fell on the wrong side of them. Truly, they are meaningless. Psalm 138 says, "The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.." No statistic will keep God from fulfilling His purpose for your family! Praying for you guys.

Rebekah said...

I don't like statistics either. Even though statistically speaking what happened with Levi won't happen again- it still happened... 100%... to me. It's hard now wondering what statistics can be trusted now.

I Believe in Miracles said...

Praying!!

Jenn said...

Stace you hang in there. Your winning game is coming!! Andi, I'm with you. I don't remember KC? Connie, who are we talking about? And I totally don't remember the "undressing ref" deal. Don't even remember which one you had a crush on. It's really funny because I still see 2 of the refs here in town. One is still reffing and the other works at a local tire & service station! Stace, you sparked curiosity here!

Indy said...

This was such a great post, I don't know if I got to tell you.

Rejoicing with you, Stacey!

TRS said...

Great post sweetie!!

I just read something quoting Michael Jordan - about how he's missed way more shots than he's ever made. And he's still considered quite the success.
The important thing is to try. Have a little faith and let it fly!!!

sah said...

You, my kindred-spirit friend, are amazing! Praying for you!