Most of us stand at the door of relationship with many ideas about what we expect to receive. Some of us look across the threshold anticipating what we hope to give. But few reach through the doorway with great expectations of being tested.
And yet, it will be a larger part of our relating experience…
“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?” 1 Corinthians 2:11. Hmmm… .this leaves us with a sincere dilemma. I am the only one that can be certain of my own thoughts. I may say that I am trustworthy. But how can I prove that my word is good? I may say that I am faithful. But again, how can I prove my word to be good? I may say that I am honest, kind, just, enjoyable, humble and well, anything I want to say. But who, in his or her right mind, would simply take me at my word? No, one who is in their right mind would test my character to be certain of the report.
I suggest that testing is a natural phenomena of relationship. For we are at least two coming together in some sort of bond to be known by the other. I must be discovered as well as make discoveries. I must know and be known. And finding out who I am will be the result of a test… .many tests.
I would also suggest that very few of us are prepared for testing in relationship. Typically, we are prepared for a number of other things. Perhaps gratification and pleasure. Perhaps even sacrifice and mercy. But testing gets very raw and personal. And it offers us little, if any, immediate reward. No, instead we are usually left feeling very exposed and shocked by our internal discoveries of self. We didn’t know we were this way!
Until I enter relationship, I may believe myself to be rather kind. But then comes relational encounters where kindness is required beyond what has ever been required of me before… .and I fail. Alone, I was a kind person. But in this relationship, I was tested by the need for me to be kind, and it has been found that I am not so kind as I presumed myself to be. Therefore, it is possible, that I am not kind. My context for kindness used to be myself. Now my context is relating to another person. This is just an example. But it works for any virtue we suppose ourselves to possess.
Therefore, relationship has great value. Allowing another to require me to provide day to day proof of my character and commitment causes me to know where I really stand in virtue. Am I the person I believe myself to be? I am not in relationships merely for the company… .I am in relationships so that I may be known as I truly am. And this knowledge comes as the result of testing. Only the tested know who they are…
“Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another,” Proverbs 27:17. “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind,” Psalm 26:2.