Sunday, May 07, 2006

We Will Be Tested…

…and it is then, that I think, we can really see our true self shine through. It truly can be a time of great self-discovery, or perhaps a realization of some aspect of our self that we might not be as proud of, but still, we need that moment of clarification to see it for our self. I once tested myself in a way to see just that—who my true self really was…

This test, nearly a year ago, was a pretty reassuring moment for me, as I was then pretty confident in the belief I had already had about myself all along. Because of that test, that night I wrote an away message that I have kept ever since then. The away message said this…

“I think sometimes you just have to remind yourself who you really are and what you're made of.”

I think that’s what these life tests can do for us—remind us, or help us, to see who we really are, and sometimes, even show us that we are capable of much more than we might have originally thought.

In my case previously mentioned, I brought the “test” upon myself; however, life can throw us these types of tests too. Many would call these the God/Satan tests. During Biblical times Job’s love for God was tested. The Bible says we all will have trials and tribulations brought before us, right? Because of this, if you’re a Bible believer, you probably have no problem with the idea that we will all face our own fair share of “tests” in life. But you do not have to be a Bible believer to have this belief, as life experiences can teach it just as clearly.

In a broad sense, I like defining a “test” as a way to see what the one being tested is capable of.

Academically, students are faced with “tests” all the time. Tests enable a teacher to see if the student has learned the material in a manner that allows him/her to be “capable of” regurgitating it in the form of answers to test questions.

Recently I did yet another “test” on myself to show that I WAS capable of something that one of my friends had questioned about me. I knew within me that I was capable of it and in efforts to prove it to my friend, as well as myself, I went ahead and participated in another self-created “test.”

While the overall purpose of this “test” (or experiment, as I called it at that time), was to prove my point that I was capable of something specific a friend of mine had questioned about me, underneath it all, I had more of a purpose for me…

…to me it was more of a purpose of proving to myself that I can discipline myself to do just about anything I set my mind too.

See, I have a strong belief in my ability to be self-disciplined. I believe I am capable of disciplining myself to just about anything I set my mind too. If I want to stop a current habit of mine, I belief I can set my mind to it and accomplish it. I believe I have a lot of inner strength and I know how to direct it appropriately in a self-disciplining manner when necessary. I suppose my belief in my “inner strength” is comparable to a sense of self-confidence. I believe confidence is important in many areas of life, but particularly important in purposely testing yourself.

What’s hard though is when these tests are not self-created and life brings them to you and they can be bigger than you would have anticipated—if anticipation was even possible in the first place. These times can be very trying times. It is then that it is important to seek support.

When one’s level of confidence is hindered in a situation where doubt has arisen, support can play an important part. It is sometimes in these types of situations that we feel we know what we need to do, but one of two things holds us back from doing it.

The obvious thing that could be holding us back, as mentioned, could be a lack of confidence. Even confident people can have times of less confidence.

The second thing hampering a person from doing what they know they need to do could be a desire to do something else, that even though they know it probably is not necessarily the “best” thing to do in the situation, it is something that they would much rather do. Biblically, I suppose it is one of those “temptations.” It is when you find yourself tempted to do something that might not be the “best action” for the specific situation, that support can be important.

When I think of support I think of friends. Friends can provide all sorts of support! And what I find is important is knowing your friends well enough to know which of them can provide you with the best type of support for whatever the situation you are in that support is needed for. Different friends can definitely provide different types of support. Sometimes the support that you need is just some encouragement. Sometimes you need some reassurance of your thoughts on the matter. Sometimes you need advice on the situation as a whole because you could be completely lost as to what to do. Each type of support is okay too, assuming you have appropriate resources available.

I have had the opportunity to seek support for matters brought on by what I have appraised to be a life-created test. Ironically, I see this test in a way similar to my self-created test of the past, in that this “test” also is testing my discipline. But, as I mentioned earlier, life tests can be a lot more intense and trying than self-created tests. With this being the case, I believed support was necessary.

When my confidence had wavered in my beliefs for self-discipline, I quickly sought support. I knew if I didn’t consult with supports that I believed where appropriate for this matter, then I might perform in a manner that “is not necessarily the ‘best’ thing to do in the situation.” But not only that; I looked to my supports in this situation for a sense of reassurance. Seeking support for “reassurance” purposes can be funny situations; let me explain…

Sometimes, when we seek out reassurance support we are secretly hoping to be told that the behaviors we WANT to do are okay for us to do. Even with this being the case, on the surface we try to convince our self that we are seeking out assurance that the thing we “know is the right thing to do in the situation,” is what they will tell us to do. But this only sets us up for the *sigh* when we get the “support” and find out that we are being advised to do exactly that which we already knew was “the right thing to do.”

This was my case. I found myself in a situation where deep down I could feel my self-discipline beginning to waver, so I was seeking out support, which has been important for sure, but some of it I get back and think, “though I already knew inside me that that is what I should do, I was hoping I could ask your opinion and it would grant me permission to do what I really want to do, which might not be ‘the best actions’ for that situation.”

Luckily, even when the support situations come out this way, the support does not have to be viewed as “unhelpful.” What can come from this support instead is a necessary reminder for when times get “trying.” It is when the confidence beings to slip away and you being to doubt whether you can remain disciplined and do what you “know is the right thing to do” that you can use the previously given support as a reminder over and over again that “the right thing to do” really IS the “right thing to do.” It is during these times that the temptation seems the greatest.

For me, I have found I have been granted one of my most trying tests for self-discipline and for that I know I will be a better person. No matter how the “test” turns out, I know I can learn from any test to be better prepared for the next to come.

And another test will come…

1 comment:

julesforstenholm said...

I have been presented with several tests in recent years - tests that were unexpected and absolutely not desired... and, I haven't breezed through them like I would like to think I can. They've been difficult, and I'm usually a good test-taker.

Maybe I'm growing up and getting a taste of what life can throw at you - that's what my dad keeps telling me, anyway. He's been one of my favorite sources of support through my little "tests", and that's something that has developed in us a bond that we didn't have before. He's not quick to give advice, and I think he's held his tongue a few times to let me experience some of the stuff. And then he's been there to say, "it's going to be okay - this is a part of life, and you're going to learn from this".

I've decided that tests stink. They make me, much like you described, question myself. Second-guess... But, they have also made me realize that I AM okay with these changes. I'm stronger than I have ever realized, and I AM going to learn from this and be a better person.

My friend, I know that these tests of which you speak, no matter how big or small, have taught you more than you can imagine - about yourself, about your friends, about other people... and, I just hope you realize that we, your friends, are happy to be here for you in whatever tests present themselves to you in the future. And, we're glad to hear that you are learning from them!

Even though I think you might be a little messed up for giving the tests to yourself. Don't your professors give you enough tests? Gah, author extraordinaire, what are you thinking? ;)