Do you remember being in school? School days can be easy to remember. It seems like just yesterday my teacher was asking the class to put our books away. Time for another test. Or even better, a pop quiz!
As adults we no longer have to take tests. At least, not the kind where we have to fill in bubbles with a number two pencil or write timed essays. Instead we have life. Life tests us every day in every situation. There are times when we know the test is coming and we can prepare ourselves, but most times the trials and tests we face are the pop quizzes of life. This means we always have to be prepared. But how do we prepare for the tests life throws at us?
Prepare your heart.
We can’t pass the tests if our hearts aren’t in the right place. When unexpected things happen, it is easy to accidentally say or do the wrong thing. A loving heart protects from misinterpretation. If I use the wrong words or actions but my heart is wanting the right thing for other people, than I know my intentions. Chances are other people will too. This means we need to:
- Approach each situation or test from a place of love. It’s ok to stop and take a deep breath before reacting. When a trial is thrown your way, take a breath to clear your mind. Try to imagine how Jesus would handle the situation.
- Push your selfishness aside. Yes, this trial or test is happening to you, but your actions will effect more than just yourself. Let’s say you just got rear ended by a teenager who was texting and driving, which puts your entire day in a rut. It’s ok to feel angry, and annoyed. Don’t let that annoyance take over. Chances are that teenager is in a lot more trouble than you are, and dented bumpers can be fixed. This is an opportunity to see the teenager as a person that needs help, love, kindness, and grace.
Use past situations as knowledge for our future.
Each paragraph in your story builds into a chapter of your life. Previous trials and tests prepare us for future tests, sometimes through failure. Be self reflective. Assess what works for you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I like to do this daily, but sometimes it’s more realistic to do it weekly.
Give yourself some time on Sunday or whatever day in the week works best for you and reflect on the past week. Was it a good week? Are there things you wish you handled differently? What worked? What didn’t work? Use all of this self reflection to help prepare you for future life tests. Think about how you would want to handle a situation if it presented itself in the future.
Whatever you do, don’t let yourself continue to fail tests the same way. We never want to be stagnant in our faith. Growing as a Christian means that we are constantly aligning and realigning our lives with God. When we are with God, there is a greater chance that we are going to pass the test!
Don’t forget to study through situational observation!
Studying can mean using a journal for self reflection and reading it every once in a while to remind ourselves how to be successful in the future. It can also happen through observing others and how they handle their trials.
Situational knowledge surrounds us every day, but we don’t always look for it. It’s easiest to see when it comes in the form of negativity. Someone yelling at a cashier, driving aggressively, using their words to bring others down. Often times in these situations I think to myself, “I don’t want to be that kind of person.” Going further, I try to think of times where my actions were similar to someone who just lost their temper. How will I handle myself better in the future?
More rewardingly, situation knowledge comes from relationships. Surround yourself with people you admire, and watch how they deal with difficult situations. Learn from them and apply their positive techniques to your life.
You are ready for every test life has for you!
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1: 2-4
Don’t let tests and trials bring you down or stress you out. Each test, small or large will help build your endurance and your faith in Him. With God by your side each day, you are ready to face anything He puts in your path. All of those chapters of your life, your trials, and your triumphs make for a great story and an even better transcript of your faith!