Originally posted to a wellness support group September 12, 2009
It’s different in Divinity School. Our Greek prof hands our tests back to us and says, “Okay, now let’s grade these things.”
“We are grading our own tests?”
“You’re trustworthy aren’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but. . .”
“Then, let’s get these things graded.”
So it came as no surprise then that another prof gave us a rather nontraditional midterm. See, we’d missed class when the exam was scheduled on account of a rare snow day. Later that same day, we found an announcement on our class website and an email in our inboxes. “Due to the class cancellation, I’m asking you to take your midterm at home.”
Cool, I thought, a take-home exam: My favorite.
Except not really.
“I’ll post the exam on the website and you are to take it exactly as if you were here in class.”
“That is, you may use only your Bible, and that only on the essay questions. No outside materials are allowed on the objective portion.”
You really must be kidding.
“You may complete this exam at your convenience any time between now and Friday at 5:00 pm.”
You’re not kidding.
So here’s the deal. The exam was posted on Monday. All the exam questions were right there—every last one of them—for my own private consumption. But I wasn’t exactly ready to take the exam yet. So there they were–waiting, beckoning, cajoling:
“No one would know if you just glanced over the items.”
“What if you just look at the essays?”
“You could just look at the questions—that’s like looking at the study guide, for heaven’s sake.”
Except not really.
Where this kind of temptation is concerned, I have endless willpower. There is absolutely no way I could have looked at the test before I took it: even though it would have relieved stress to know what was on it; even though it would have saved me a lot of time; even though others might give into that kind of temptation. Not me. No way. No how.
So it occurred to me: if I can handle temptation in one area of my life, I bet I can handle it in another. The truth is I could apply my skills regarding academic temptations to the enticing calls of a fresh bag of Cheetos® or an unopened box of Capt’n Crunch®. I could say, “I won’t do that because I don’t make those kind of choices.” I could realize, “I prefer the inconvenience of not giving in to temptation to the consequences of being swayed.” I could claim, “I will be obedient because my behavior is not dependent on the behavior of others.
Temptation. We can handle it.