So last week saw the SATS for year 6 children. This coming week sees the SATS for year 2s and the beginning of the exam season for year 11 and 13: GCSEs, ‘A’ Levels and BTECs.
It is a testing time.
For our students, there are moments when they have to dive into the depths of the knowledge they’ve received in order to make some sense of it on paper. For our staff there are moments of questioning of themselves – did we do enough, did we remember everything, will they remember everything, will they be ok? Our parents too will be worried about their young people’s performance, they will worry whether they have had breakfast, are they well rested, are they calm and relaxed, have they remembered to take a pen.
During our lives there are testing times but maybe not like the exams that are being set for our young people. There are decisions to be made, judgements to call, choices to pick. It reminds me of the lines in Ecclesiastes 3 about there being a time for everything and everything has its opposite – maybe there should be a line which says ‘there is a time for testing and time for resting’.
But through out all these things – whether we are a child, a young person or an adult – there are things we can do to deal with these testing times in the best ways possible.
The first is to PRAY – spend some time in quiet, not speaking, just breathing and listening for God. Offer up to God your stress and your anxieties, offer up the confusion and the impact of what you are facing. Imagine leaving your test with God, imagine being given the answer.
The next is PREPARE – think through what you have to do. I find it helps me to draw or write what is on my mind and make some lists. Have the conversations in your head about what you need to say. Often a sense of being well prepared helps us to reduce our stress levels and be clear about what we want to happen next.
Finally – and this is not an exhaustive list of everything – PARTNERS. Feeling alone is the biggest thing to make us feel powerless and unprepared. Partner with God and ask God to walk with you through whatever you face. Partner with someone who understands you and can support you, who you can talk with and who can ask you questions that make you think. Partner with someone who doesn’t know the details but is there for you regardless. Someone who just wants to see you supported and safe.
As our young people prepare for their testing times, we pray that they feel supported, that they feel well prepared and that they are surrounded by a crowd of supporters encouraging them.
As we go through testing times – whether in work, family, financial, relationship or otherwise, may we remember to pray for your peace, your guidance and your support. May we feel strong enough through your spirit to tackle what lies ahead.
And as we journey through life, send us faithful partners that support us, help us and pray for us as we do the same for them.
May the community support those who need it most. Amen