Saturday, November 10, 2012

Quiet: Testing in Progress

Have you ever seen these signs on a door when in an office building or a campus? "QUIET: TESTING IN PROGRESS." I have, frequently. I've even been behind a few of those signs - the one being tested, either individually or in a group of people writing the same test. 

From a site selling
all kinds of safety signs
Can I get away with saying that it's a lot easier being outside the door than inside? Can I even venture to say that it's a lot easier grading the tests (well of course it is: the grader has all the answers!) than it is taking them? 

It's so natural to slip into the role of grader - the one with all the answers, and therefore able and willing to point out another's mistakes - than it is to be the one taking the test and making the mistakes. I know; I do it all too frequently, and the results are ALWAYS bad. My problem is, I tend not to tell the person directly. I handle things in a couple of different ways. One is that I tell someone else and hope word gets back to them so they'll stop doing [fill in the blank]. If it does, by the time it gets there, it's all blown out of proportion - and feelings get hurt on both sides. Another way is that I don't say anything for a long time, and I let things build up and up and up ... and then one day I can't take it anymore and I say something snarky, and the person's feelings get hurt - and I end up looking like the bad guy. (Yes, I know that "snarky" is not a word. But it should be: snide remark = snark.) Plus ... that person never speaks to me again and gets others to see things his/her way, and a whole pile of people prejudge, and stop talking to me. This has happened most often in Christian circles (probably because that's where I spend most of my time outside work and family), but it's not limited to that part of my life. I have to conclude, then, that the problem isn't with Christians or with non-christians; the problem is with me

You know that moment before you give in to the temptation to justify yourself and make the other person look bad? Yes, I know it's temptation (which is never God's fault - it's the other guy's, you know, with the horns and the pitchfork - haha), but in a sense the circumstances surrounding that situation also constitute a test. I have a choice - call it multiple choice if you like - as to how to react to any given situation. The more I realize that, left to my own devices, I will ALWAYS choose the wrong thing ... the more I will leave the choice of what I do to God and follow what He wants me to do rather than what comes naturally. And therein lies the test part. It's not a test of character; it's a test of helplessness and dependency. As a human being, I like to run things. When I do, I inevitably mess up. It's as simple as that. 

I think that part of the answer lies in the first word of that sign I mentioned at the first of this post. Quiet. I think it was Solomon who said something like, "Even a fool, when he keeps quiet, is considered wise." The French people have a proverb or saying that sort of goes along with that: "Il faut y penser deux fois avant de parler" - which means, "Think twice about it before speaking." In this type of test, that's good advice for people on BOTH sides of the sign - inside (the one being tested) and outside (the one who is passing by, or passing judgment.) Quiet - think - pray first. I'm talking to my self here - the part of me that has to have her own way. I am so quick to react, to shoot first and ask questions later. 

King David prayed once, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." (Psalm 141:3) If that prayer is not a great signpost, a reminder to be quiet, I don't know what is.

When it comes right down to it - the "testing in progress" is taking place on both sides of the door, just from different perspectives. Perhaps it's time to give each other a break and just ... do what the Sign says.

No comments:

Post a Comment