For a while I joked with one of my best friends that I wasn't going to write as often because each time I would write a post about something, I was immediately tested in that area. I told my girlfriend, "that's it, I'm not writing anymore because every time God is like, 'ok girl, you talk the talk, let's see you walk the walk.'" Yeah, sounds a little comical now, but when you know that impending test is coming, it's not so funny. Kinda like when we pray for God to give us patience. I don't know about you, but I just want God to clothe me in patience...not give me situations to test and try my patience. But, like the Father He is, He is allowing us the tests and trials to build our character.
I often like to think of trials like this: a teacher doesn't just give you an "A" in the class. You have to study, work, put in the time, and are ultimately tested on your knowledge. If you were just given the "A," what good would it do? You would have no knowledge of the subject nor would you be able to help someone who may look to you for guidance in that subject area. Now, in some cases, like my statistics class in college, sometimes even going through the trials and testing gave me a grade high enough to pass the class, but I still have no clue what the heck I was taught. If someone stuck a statistics problem in front of me right now, I would laugh and shove it aside. I have no clue where to even begin. I would have to go through it all over again....because I didn't learn from the lessons taught. My teacher appreciated my hard work and he knew I wasn't a flake in his class, so when my final grade percentage was two percent shy of a passing grade, he mercifully bumped my percentage up and I passed the class and never have to take a math class again. Can I get an amen?!
Well, much like math, I'm not always the best student when God is trying to teach me something. I try to skate by, skirt around the edges, and hide from the truth. It never works. I'm pretty sure God looks at me and says, "how many times do we have to do this?" That's my guess because it's the same thing I say to my children, "when will you listen to me?" Lessons are hard to learn. Lessons that test your character are especially hard to learn.
Tonight was one of those nights, which followed another one of these nights yesterday. My husband and I have just been butting heads like two rams on a mountain side. Almost everything one does or says, the other thinks is wrong. And over silly things like when is the best time to carve our pumpkins for Halloween; how many pots of chili do we need to make; we don't have enough chairs to seat everyone; is it that hard to load the dishwasher; how do you forget to put the potatoes in the crockpot with the roast, etc, etc, etc. Just one (or two) of those nights.
You know what's funny about it? Just today I was telling a girlfriend of mine at work about how she needs to be the one to break the cycle in her marriage. She and her husband are not in the best place, and she came to me for advice. I told her that she has to be the one to make the move towards improving her marriage. She kept saying, "but I don't want to, it's one sided if I do that, he needs to learn and understand. Why should I always have to be the one to change things?" Ooh and let me tell you, I was full of answers, including: "It's not one-sided, it's breaking the cycle." Once those words left my mouth, I knew I was in for a good test. Because the night before, I knew that this was the answer to the problem in my home, but I skipped that question on the test and plowed through the night like a bull running through the streets of Madrid.
Let me give you a helpful hint when you are going through one of the many tests of faith you will encounter: the two H's. Humility and humble. I know what you're thinking, "aren't those just two different ways of saying the same thing?" Yes. And out of the entire English language, these are probably the two most difficult words to add to our own vocabulary.
For the last two nights, I've been anything but humble. I've displayed everything but humility. I've sat back and waited for my husband to realize his wrongs and come to me begging for forgiveness. In the meantime, my irritation has grown, multiplied and become something my pride will not allow me to surrender. I'm ugly right now. And I most definitely am not acting as a godly wife. This is where God is trying to teach me a lesson on the two H's. He knows this is equivalent to math for me - I just don't get it. And He insists on repeating the lesson until it clicks.
Let's look at the perfect example of the two H's: Jesus. If there was ever a man to walk this earth who deserved to be treat like a king, of course it was our Lord. But the entirety of his life, from birth to death, was filed with humility. He could've demanded everyone's respect, he could've called on angels from high, he could've sat comfortably and been served. But instead, he served. The king of kings served. And he served with a humble heart. He said, "...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28
I don't know about you, but nothing humbles me faster than to see that my Lord, the King of Kings, considers himself a servant. Who am I to think I should be sitting around waiting for my husband to come crawling to me, begging for forgiveness and kiss my ring like a queen who sits on a throne?
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:3-5
Do you remember cliff notes, a study guide, when studying or reading a book for a class? It was a helpful summarization aimed to help you better understand a difficult reading. Well, this bit of scripture acts as my cliff notes during times of testing. It's highlighted and underlined in my bible, and my handwriting covers the borders with words like, "imitate Jesus. Put others before me. Ultimate humility." It's my go-to. It's my "check yourself, Jenn, where is your attitude?" And it's God's repeated lesson for me.
We are forever learning. Even Jesus was learning throughout the days of his life here on earth. Each day he was faced with something that would test his faith. He was not immune to God's lessons, he was a student like you and me. He battled through temptations (I would've given in on the first day out in the desert), he battled through the loss of friends and betrayal, he battled fears and sorrow...he was human. And he was the perfect example of the kind of student we need to be. He went through every trial, every test of faith, relying only on God and His promises.
What kind of student are you? Throughout life we are going to be tested. It shapes our character. It helps us grow and mature as Christians. Do you trust the lessons God allows into your life? And don't forget, God is very much a "practice what you preach" kind of teacher. Do you only talk the talk or do you also walk the walk? Our Father is not a mean God who likes to see if you'll sink or swim...He is the perfect Father who wants to see you rise above. Remember what Jesus tells us, "for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Mathew 23:12
Now, if you'll excuse, I have a man downstairs I need to apologize to.