This week my children simultaneously walked through a rite of passage. One took an entrance exam for graduate school while the other took an entrance exam for college. They endured their series of tests at the exact same time. Wild coincidence. Or was it? Our lives are replete with tests. Whether it is a trial of knowledge, strength, courage, or health, all good stories require the heroine to pass a test.
Despite a four and half year difference the kids have always been one another’s sidekicks, but in this instance they had no backup in slaying the Beast with their sharpened Number-2-Pencil-Swords. Pass the test and say to the Doors of Life, “Open Sesame.”
Paper and pencil exams lead us to believe that life is a series of A, B, C or D outcomes. There is exactly one correct choice. If only reality were so easy. The story of our lives are more like the old Choose Your Own Adventure series of children’s books--- one choice leads to 4 more possibilities, and each of those possibilities to another four…. endless permutations.
A successful test isn’t dependent on the final outcome. The heroine of the story succeeds in the lessons she learns along the way. In a good story the heroine faces the battle, and encounters a major obstacle, only to have her trusty sidekick swoop in at the last minute to help her save the day. The heroine suddenly finds new strength and slays the beast in front of her. She passes the test. But it’s not the slain beast that is her accomplishment. It’s the newfound knowledge of her own strength, grit, determination, and scars she bears from the journey itself. The test is, in fact, a lesson.
If we are lucky we get only a few Life Trials to test our mettle. The real feat of strength is when we must endure a series of tests, one after another. Do we have the stamina? Do we have the mental fortitude to keep going? The truth is we don’t get that option. We have no choice but to get our feet set under us, and load up our quivers with the arrows, shields, darts, and swords of wisdom we have learned from our previous battles. We look beside us and treasure our sidekicks who witness the journey and keep us firmly on the side of the GOOD. We plod forward, always looking onward. The test is yet another lesson. We find the will to rise up and say to the Doors of Life, “Open Sesame.”