HERE WAS SOMEWHERE THAT I COULD BE MYSELF,
WHATEVER PERCENTAGE I GOT
As a youngster, I carried a burden I never stopped to think about –
all because my parents thought I was the clever one. As a
consequence, I was expected to pass exams. I was not as bright as
they believed but I quickly learned how to get through tests.
However it’s a bit scary when you get it into your head that your
worth comes from examination success. It’s not so bad when the
results are going your way but there’s always the stomach-churning
thought that the next exam will be the one that catches you out
completely. My parents never intended to burden me with a terror of
failure and they never ever said I had to pass but children pick up on
what they think mums and dads want.
When I first came across Christianity, I thought it was a kind of moral
equivalent of the examination hall. If you were really good, you
made it as a follower of Jesus. If you didn’t, you were cast out. Now
no church ever taught me that but it was an impression I just sort of
absorbed. Fortunately I was also a big reader and I won a copy of
the New Testament in a modern translation by JB Phillips.
I was stunned when I opened it because I soon realised that in fact
this faith worked in the opposite way to our examination system. You
didn’t need to pass anything. In fact, so the book said, you were only
really in a state to be a follower when you realised you were never
going to pass any exams in Goodness. I have never felt so relieved
and so grateful in all my life. Some people don’t like admitting
they’re not one hundred per cent: I was only too glad to hand a few
failures over to God. Well, quite a lot of failures to be honest. Here
was somewhere that I could be myself, whatever percentage I got.