Not Alone –
He sat alone in the classroom today, save the examiner, and took his High School Equivalency exam. I sat alone watching him think, strain to recall what he had been taught over the past months. My class for incarcerated fathers was scheduled to begin but this lone test taker was holding us up. That was okay. What he was doing was as important as what we do in our class. We strive to make men good and into good fathers. He was taking a test that would better him and his family. He sat there with no one around him but I knew he wasn’t alone. Good thoughts, prayers, and best wishes were being sent his way by those who had tutored, encouraged and convinced him he could be more, do more and his life wasn’t a throwaway. I knew he was nervous by the way he checked and rechecked his answers, glancing up at the clock which ticked away his test time.
Finally, he finished and hesitantly handed in his exam. A few words to the examiner and he exited the classroom. “How’d it go?” I asked. “I hope good,” was his answer. We chatted a few moments and then he went back to his cell. As he exited the door I knew the hopes and dreams of not just him were wrapped up in that test. I also knew he wasn’t alone and sometimes that’s enough to give us the courage to do what we wouldn’t ever do otherwise.
This morning I chose to be stabbed by a woman. She was testing for tuberculosis which is mandatory for the organization I work for. Each year I go into a small room, roll up my sleeves, look the other way as a nice person pokes me with a syringe and then tells me to come back in 48 hours to see if the test I am now carrying is either positive or negative. I am the test, what I carry around in my body is the test and, hopefully, on Wednesday morning I will be negative and good to go for another year.
After undergoing my yearly exam I began to reflect on how it would be nice to have a test to make sure there wasn’t anything wrong, negative, destructive in our bodies, emotions and/our spirits. It would be great and helpful to know if we have somehow picked up habits, hurts, hangups that, if not addressed, would destroy who we’re meant to be and what we’re truly meant to do.
There may not be this type of test but some of the things we can do is make sure our priorities stay properly ordered, humbly seek others’ input and corrections if needed, always remember that we are only given a finite amount of time, energy, passion and make sure to use them wisely.