Tests ~

We get tested every day.

I know I do. Now that I see what’s going on.
And most of the time, I fail these tests.

It might be a test of generosity.
Or kindness.
Or anger.
Or compassion.

What happens is that you are confronted with a situation that tests your reaction.
Your response.

Will you act out of love, or out of fear?
Which often manifests in anger or contraction.
Greed is contraction.
Selfishness is contraction.

Someone cuts in front of you while you’re driving. Do you yell and honk your horn and curse? Or do you react with calmness, and wonder what sort of a horrible day that driver must be having. Or why they might be so impatient. And you hope their day improves.

That’s a test.

Someone in a shop treats you rudely. You’re Asian. Or an ethnic minority. You immediately feel that they’re treating you disrespectfully. They’re being tacitly racist.

You raise your voice.
They raise their voice.
Soon you are both shouting.

You failed the test.

Instead, perhaps you could have responded with understanding and kindness. Perhaps the shopkeeper wasn’t being racist at all, but was just having a bad day. Perhaps they have personal problems. Perhaps he or she is feeling enormous pressure from their bank, or maybe their child is sick, or their landlord is forcing them out of the building.

If you’d responded with a smile, and with understanding, you might have made their day a little better for them.

If you look at these everyday incidents and situations as tests, put in front of you to give you an opportunity to grow, then suddenly the world becomes a lot more interesting.

And a lot more interactive!

Here’s the thing – if you fail the test, they will test you again. And again. And again. You will be given many more other opportunities to grow. Because that’s why you were incarnated into this lifetime. That’s your purpose here. You think it’s to pay off your mortgage and ride around in a nice car and have dinner parties where you trot out your vintage wines and tell everyone about your last trip to Venice?

It’s more than that.
Much more.

Some of us go through our lives continually failing our tests.
Some of us gradually “get it,” and pass the test, or tests.

I had a situation last week where I was tested. I only realised later, after I failed.

I got a phone call from a young lady asking me to take wedding photos. I don’t usually do wedding photos – only for friends, which I do for free – but I have a website saying that I’m available for this kind of work, and a lot of people get married in the town where I live – Mudgee – and so it’s something I do on the side, if I’m in the country.

My rate starts at $2K. This young lady told me that she and her fiancé were on a tight budget, and that she had contacted another photographer who had told her he would do it for $800. She had contacted me though, she said, because she loved my portfolio.

She said that they were so short of money that they would pay me week by week, because her fiancé was on unemployment benefits.

I told her I would do it for $1K – half my normal rate, but still $200 more than she was hoping to pay. But she seemed happy with my quote, and said she’d get back to me.

I never heard from her again.

I should have done it for her for free.

If they were doing it that tough, I really should have done it for free. It’s no big deal for me. And they would have had great wedding pics. It was only later that I realised it was a test of my generosity of spirit, and I had failed.

But in a sense, I’d also passed.

Because in realising it was a test, and realising I’d failed, I’d taken the first step towards passing the next time I’m tested.

That’s the thing about these tests. They will keep coming at you until you realise, and in realising, you hope that you will be more self-aware next time around, and you will pass.

And then you will be given another new test!

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14 thoughts on “Tests ~

  1. I wonder Bill what the real answer is. Do we fail the test if we only feel bad about it. What if we feel good about it. I had the experience the other day of crossing a difficult intersection near my home just as someone was coming down the other side of the street. They had planty of time to slow down, they were in no immediate danger but they blew their horn. In the same situation I know I wouldn’t have been concerned at all and would have felt no need to blow my horn. My reaction was to give them the finger. Something that I rarely do. then they blew their horn again as I was heading away. Again I gave them the finger. I wasn’t angry at all as far as I recall but i did think if I am the biggest problem in their life right now then their life is pretty damn good. No poverty, no suicide bombers, no natural disasters. Just a guy who pulled out too soon and offended their sensibilities. First world problems. And the funny thing was that after giving them the finger (twice) I felt very, very, very happy. It made my day actually. If I failed the test I still feel pretty happy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, you are a warrior archetype – a combatant by nature – and so it makes sense that you did what you did, and you felt good about it. But what about if you’d just waved? And smiled? It probably would have enraged the other driver even more than you giving him the finger – but it might well have made you even happier.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wonder whether sometimes it is not about us. We can look at it from the point of view of the other person having a bad day or we don’t know what is going on in their life. I am a Buddhist so I generally look at things that way but maybe sometimes people have to come up against aggro or being p*ssed off so that they have a chance to change their outlook. You can give people a taste of aggro without really feeling aggro. From a Buddhist perspective it is all just illusionary egos bumping in to each other anyway…


  2. Bill – what a fantastic post. Thanks so much for sharing your wedding photography story. It’s a reminder to us all, when faced with tests – large and small – to think beyond what’s being presented to you – to look at that bigger picture. It will lead us to take a different, and better, course of action than the one we might have taken had we reacted immediately.
    Love to you and Jen –
    Jenny xx


  3. Dear Bill
    I’m being tested right now as I’m typing. Failing miserably! It’s the 4th of July, Independence Day here in the US. My daughter Lisa and husband took their now extended family of three children plus two friends of Jordan’s and went camping for the weekend. They left Grandma to pet sit. Two rabbits and two dogs. The fourth means fireworks and lots of them. Fire crackers, M 80’s and bottle rockets. Most fireworks are banned but the good ones can be purchased at any of the numerous Indian reservations around here. I believe Lisa’s neighborhood spent their life savings on the illegal stuff as it sounds like a war zone outside. The rabbits are fine, the dogs not so much and Grandma is frazzled. The dogs are whining and rightfully so. It’s been going on all day. Do they make earplugs for dogs?
    Not meaning to make light of your post. I am learning more than I ever wanted to know about life’s tests. I do feel I am growing though.
    Great post as usual. Always making us think.
    Hugs to you and Jen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda – you and Dale have been tested big time just recently, haven’t you – but you came through gloriously. I don’t think you have failed at all. I think you both were challenged beyond belief, but you were courageous and strong. Hugs back!

      bill xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, damn you, Bill, you make me face my fallibility again!!! Still, I’ll forgive you (and in the process myself) ‘caus you’re married to the gorgeous Jennifer and I really enjoyed our lunch on Saturday 🙂
    Thanks, again, for stirring my thoughts and feelings, and for letting me be a friend!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Britta, that was such fun, the lunch, wasn’t it? You and Jenny and Janet are very special people. As for your fallibility, well, that must mean you’re just human! Haha. Love, Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Bill. One of my greatest accomplishments in my later years is to quit sweating the small stuff and realizing that on a global view, it is all small stuff. I won’t say I never get upset at others, but honestly, almost never. It is just not worth it. I like to try to make every interaction I have each day to be a friendly memorable one. I always stop and let someone in when there is a long line of traffic behind me. It is rare for someone to acknowledge my act of kindness. That used to bother me, but now I just smile and remember I let them in to make myself feel better and what they do about it is about them. There is just not much worth fretting over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment Steve. Aiming to quit sweating the small stuff – and telling yourself this when faced with a situation that could be annoying at the least – is an excellent way to stay in a calmer frame of mind. I’m a really polite driver – I always let people into my lane too – and, like you, it’s rare to receive a friendly wave in thanks. This used to really “cheez me off” but no longer – I just look at it as a small random act of kindness.
      Those mistakes we keep making – crikey! I’m spectacularly good at making the same mistakes! Those mistakes only make you worry and hurt you – like Bill I’m trying to break out of that cycle. This post on Tests has been a wonderful lesson in change. Thanks to Bill for this.
      Cheers – Jenny


    • Hi Stteve, you’re wonderful with your random acts of kindness. I’ve seen it first hand, and it shows a genuine compassion and generosity of spirit. But what I’m talking about is an acknowledgment that we are constantly being tested, by the Universe, Spirit, the Creative Source, God – whatever you want to call it, and it’s how we respond to those tests that progress us through our life in this earthly plane.,

      You have been given huge tests throughout your life, and just recently with your health issue – but do you regard it as a test? And if so, how do you rate your response to it? Did you learn? Did you grow? Or did you just dismiss it as one of those things that just happens and you were merely the unfortunate beneficiary of a bad set of circumstances?

      This is what the post is about – how we view those situations and incidents that occur to us. Do we view them as tests, as opportunities given to us to grow? Or do we just shrug and say to ourselves – Oh, that’s just life…


      • Bill Mate,

        I have been tested over and over, and most of these came from my own doing. I have never considered myself the unfortunate beneficiary of a bad set of circumstances. My greatest test to date and probably in this lifetime was when my soulmate and wife of 21 months was suddenly killed in a motorcycle accident when one of my sons ran over us on another motorcycle. I had a bruise on my back and she died beside the road waiting on life flight. Why was that? It was an event that changed my life forever and from which I have still not recovered 17 years later, but never did I ask, “why me”. If not me, then who? I knew others were and will always be facing such tragedies every day. That is part of life. Was that a lesson, a teaching moment? Only if I, or others learned something from it. Could I avoid another tragedy in the future because of it? No. To me, the incident was random, but the lesson was up to me. I would like to say that I learned to value life and live each day as if it were my life, and that is a good plan, though I admit I do not always do so. I have had huge financial set backs in my life. Each was a test and a lesson, but not so random as most of them came from my own doings, unlike the motorcycle wreck. I find life to be a continuing challenge, but always worth living. There are good days and bad, but that is life in my opinion. Why did I get prostate cancer? Why does anyone get prostate cancer or any other potentially deadly disease. To me, that was random, and there was nothing for me to do but to immediately have it removed. Successfully, I might add. I don’t lament that it happened. I wish the recovery had been more complete and without incident, but I am very grateful that I no longer have prostate cancer. The recurring lesson of living each day as though it is my last. It makes me more grateful for what I have and much less involved in what I have not. It makes me remember that all of life’s little annoyances are inconsequential and small stuff not to be sweated. I continue to be tested in my life in many ways, more than some and less than others. I try, but not always successfully, to focus on the good and dismiss the bad, but learning from both.

        PS: I still don’t like to walk in the rain. 🙂


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