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SALT LAKE CITY — In this holiday edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim answers a reader's religious question about why life is a classroom, not a test.
One thing I really like about your articles is that you say that life is a classroom and not a test. This is a wonderful idea. When I first read it, it struck me as true. I felt so liberated. But I'm not sure how to reconcile that with what I am taught at my church, that life is a test. There are lots of scriptures (in my religion) which say life is a test, so I am having a hard time with what is truth. I appreciate any insight you can give.
I'm presenting an answer to this question that is consistent with this person's religious beliefs, so if you are reading this and don't share a Christ-focused belief system — please understand this answer was directed to this individual.
The principles I share are universal though, and people from every religion, culture or life philosophy have the option to see life as a classroom, not a test, which would improve their self-esteem.
In order to explain why the idea that life is a classroom is consistent with religious doctrine, we must first ask a deeper question: Why are we here on the planet?
This is a crucial question, because it affects every choice, decision or plan you make. If you don't have clarity around your objective, you will always be confused about what to do.
As a life coach, I have asked thousands of individuals (from every culture and religion) that question. What is the real point and purpose of you being on the planet? Their answers have surprised me. All of them, regardless of their backgrounds, have given me the same two answers.
- We are here to learn, grow and improve ourselves. There seems to be some instinct hardwired into all of us, which drives us to become better and keep learning. We are constantly trying to lose weight, learn new things, become stronger, wiser or more loving, and this effort creates happiness and a sense of fulfillment in our lives.
- We are here to love. Most of us have a strong desire to make a difference and help, lift and serve the others on this planet. This also creates a sense of fulfillment and peace. I believe our happiest moments come when we are loving another person, because we are being our highest, best selves.
Understanding this objective will change the way you see everything that happens to you. You will now see every experience as a lesson on loving God, yourself or other people at a deeper level. I wrote an article about this idea a few months ago you ought to read.
If we are on the planet to learn to love, it would mean life is basically a school. The question is what kind of school is it? Is it a test where you could fail or is it a classroom where you can only learn? Is your value in question when you make mistakes or can you erase and try again until you get it right? Is God more concerned with judgment or your education?
Seeing life as a test and God as judgment or fear may produce obedience, but it doesn't come with peace or joy, because fear creates stress that distracts you from love. Fear makes you needy, defensive and selfish. It keeps you focused on getting reassurance and validation, which makes you less capable of focusing on other people. Fear is not God's plan for you, love is.
It might frighten some people to hear that life is a test and any mistakes you make will prevent you from returning to God.
This is what I believe: life is a test … but we ALL failed it. The test is over. Not a single one of us passed. We have all made mistakes.
According to your spiritual beliefs, God in his mercy, wisdom and love (and because his ultimate objective is to educate his children — not to get rid of them) provided a solution to this — a Savior. Christ turned it from a test into a classroom. Whew. You can now work on yourself, make mistakes and erase and try again every time, because your grades are off the table.
You can stop worrying about "not being good enough" and focus your energy on learning to love. You can stop trying to prove your value and spend more time lifting, serving and loving others. You can do this because you have nothing to fear. God is the essence of perfect love, mercy, wisdom and compassion.
In my articles, I talk a lot about the two core fears I believe are the root cause of most psychological and relationship problems. The first is the fear of failure (the fear that you might not be good enough). The second is the fear of loss (the fear that your life isn't good enough), and the loss we fear most is death and losing those we love.
The amazing, wonderful, joyful message, which is at the heart of the Christmas season, is we have nothing to fear, because our value has been taken care of and death has been overcome. We have nothing to fear, because there is no failure or loss.
The most important message of Christmas was delivered by angels to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, and this message is one that should bring you peace every day: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
Because of him, you cannot fail and you will get back all those you lose.
You have nothing to fear.
At least, you can see your life this way if you want to. If you choose to embrace this perspective you will have more capacity to learn and love too, because your fear won't be distracting you. God also wants you to work on doing good, righteous things, but he wants you to do those things because you love him, yourself and other people … not because you fear him.
I hope this answers your question and brings you peace.
You can do this.