As a kid in school, I hated tests. Looking at my old elementary school report cards (the ones where the teacher wrote a progress note home to the parents every six weeks) more than one teacher mentioned, “Not a good test taker.” I think probably today I’d be diagnosed with one of the AD syndromes, but in my family, failure was not an option. I didn’t realize until I had four children and was back in college that I had learned to survive my lack of concentration and ability to memorize with perseverance.
Recently, I was required as part of my volunteer prison ministry to take a computer based training, mandated by the federal government. Thirty multiple choice questions with 80% needed to pass. Sounds simple enough. The first day I spent six hours—ninety minutes of that, just to find the minuscule icon that opened the actual test portion of the program. Thoroughly frustrated, but afraid the program would time-out, I plunged ahead for a pre-test score of 50. Several tests later and a high score of 58%, I quit to start afresh the next day. With a new attitude and a better understanding of the program, I started with the video odyssey training sessions. After hours of endless lesson scenarios, my high score reached 78%. Another try with a 50 and I quit again. However, failure was not an option. I passed the test eventually with some handholding, but I’ve discovered new meaning in the dreaded words – the test.
Testing in reference to my faith has always bothered me. The dictionary refers to test as “a purification process by heat and pressure.” Purified by fire scares the Hell out of me, literally. I have a hard time reconciling my loving God as testing me. What if I fail? But that’s the whole point. Life – this journey is the test – baby steps of faith, and if we keep getting up and toddling back on the path, we can't fail.
The test of time – stubborn perseverance. God help me. I’m still not good at standardized tests, but I have the wisdom that time affords and the dogged determination that can’t be measured by little bubbles on a page.