Since mid-January, I’ve been working towards a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. I took a class two nights a week for 16 weeks. I can’t even tell you how many hours I studied. I outlined over 900 pages of the study materials. One night I even had a dream about trying to calculate yield ratios and the 4/5ths rule. I’m happy to report that I’m among the 53% of test takers who passed the first time. I’m so thankful to God for helping me.
There are several things I learned about studying for and taking a major test. I realized this could be applied to my spiritual life. First of all, it takes commitment. I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to just listen to the online classes and pass. Oh sure, it was fun sitting on my porch on those beautiful days in early spring. My dog sat there with me while I watched the instructor talk about Business Management and Strategy and the five other core competencies of HR. Once I took my first practice test (and failed with a 68) I realized what I was doing wasn’t enough. I had to dig in and do a lot more. I had to make some changes. That’s when I began to outline each book the old fashioned way -with pen and paper. My hand started cramping and hurting so bad one night I couldn’t write another letter. I told a friend how much my hand was hurting. She said, “Jennifer, with all the technology that you know about you mean to tell me that you can’t find a way that won’t hurt?” Challenge accepted! The next morning I upgraded my iPad, and bought the Apple Pencil. I had to drop the old way of doing things and find a new way. The latest iPad has a digitizer in the screen. With the Apple Pencil you can write notes directly on the screen with a much softer touch. I outlined four books without any major issues. We have to be willing to change what we’re doing. If what you’re doing isn’t working -change it. If what you’re doing is causing pain, STOP! Ask God for wisdom and He will give it to you.
I’m so blessed because the company where I work paid for the course and the added expense of the test. Does that sound familiar? Jesus paid the ultimate price for us and He even won the victory. We have to accept His sacrifice. Even though He paid the price, we still face tests in life. It still costs us something. If I wanted to study the way I knew I needed to, I had to go out and spend some of my own money. iPads aren’t cheap! If we want to pass the tests we’re facing, it’s going to cost us. It’s going to cost time, money, and relationships. We have to change the way we’re doing things no matter the cost. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.
I had several people praying for me. It was amazing and once again, I’m so blessed. I didn’t tell a lot of people exactly when I was testing. Honestly, I was scared of failing. I didn’t want everyone knowing if I failed. When I walked in that testing facility, I walked in with those prayers surrounding me. Yet, I still walked in alone. I had to prepare diligently for months before the test. I was the person who had to answer the questions. No one else could do it for me. You can have people praying for you, supporting you and encouraging you. Ultimately you’re the one who has prepare and you’re the one who has to take the test.
Almost all of the support and encouragement I received was amazing. Sometimes people think they’re helping when in reality they’re not. They project their past experiences on you. I had someone say things like, “If you fail…you’re going to cry, you’ll be angry, etc.” I also received some bad advice but I knew in my heart what I needed to do. I couldn’t allow anyone else’s opinion or experiences affect the way I felt about myself. I couldn’t let it affect my belief that God was going to help me. Sometimes people have awful experiences in life. In their grief and anger they don’t always say the right things. Our job is to keep trusting God. Not everyone you come in contact with is always going to support you. We need to listen to those God puts in our life. We also need to have discernment.
In the testing facility, they make you put your belongings in a locker. I had to turn my pockets and bottom of my pant legs inside out. They used a metal detector to make sure I didn’t take anything in the room with me. I was handed a few pieces of paper and two pencils. The proctor walked me to my little cubicle and all of my hard work was about to be put into action. After a short tutorial on the testing process, the test began. The entire time, I kept thinking “I’m going to fail.” It was freezing cold in that room but I could feel the sweat forming on the back of my neck. I took some practice tests in preparation but I didn’t expect it to be that difficult. Evidently that’s a standard emotion during these particular tests. One HR blog I read said that some people even get up and walk out of the testing facility before they finish the exam. They’re so convinced that they are going to fail that they give up. Sure, there were a lot of answers I knew. I was SO relieved when I was certain of the answers. When I didn’t know the answer the fear of failure screamed in my ears. I remember I didn’t have a clue about one question in particular. I put my face in my hands and said, “God, I have no idea.” I was able to dissect the question and I believe I chose the correct answer. The enemy wants us to think we are failing. He wants us to quit in the middle of the test. He doesn’t want us to pass the test. My friends, no matter what, don’t you give up!
During the test I had to stay focused. There were people in the room taking all sorts of tests. Some of them were writing essays. The clicking of the computer keyboards was very loud. The facility had headphones available but I’m sorry, I wasn’t about to put those things on my head. God only knows how many people used them in between cleanings. Yuck! One poor young woman was sick with a nasty cold. Very few things gross me out more than phelgm. Let’s just say she had an over abundance and it was making me queasy. I’m assuming that the young man who threw the computer mouse failed his test. The protor had to come in the room and calm him down. I felt so sorry for him. No matter what is going on around you, you can’t lose your focus. You can’t let the experiences that other people have affect your faith in God. Keep your eyes on Jesus and He will help you pass the test.
Once I clicked the “end exam” button, my heart started pounding. I was certain that everyone around me could hear it. The next message on the computer screen informed me of a survey they wanted me to take regarding the testing facility. I screamed in my head, “Are you kidding me right now?” This was probably the most defining moment in my career and they wanted to know if the air conditioner was okay. I impatiently completed the survey. The screen went blank, my heart beat even faster. The next screen said they would mail me the final results. My heart sank. I knew they were supposed to inform me immediately of a pass or failure. I thought it meant I failed. Two seconds later the analysis was complete. I passed. I couldn’t believe it. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. As I fought back tears of joy, all I could say was, “Thank You God, thank You God, thank You God.” Even several days later when I think about it, I thank Him profusely for being with me and helping me.
I left the room and went to the proctors desk. As she waited to print and notarize my results she received a phone call. It was from one of her coworkers at a North Houston location. I was able to hear what happened. As she got a very puzzled look on her face, she said, “Wait, she did what? She ate six Kleenex?” A test goer at another location ate six Kleenex during her test. Think about that for a second. One of two things happened. Either she was extremely nervous or she was cheating. My friends, we can’t cheat our way through the tests we’re facing. We can’t take the easy way. In the end we’re only cheating ourselves. If she was that nervous, well Jesus is the only answer. Only He can give us the peace that passess all understanding. Only He can help us sleep well the night before such a major test. Only Jesus.
In the end, titles don’t matter. Sure, it’s a wonderful feeling seeing the PHR behind my name. I know what it took to get it. Only those who have studied for and taken this test know what it’s like. It’s going to help in my career path. I learned so much in the course of my study. It’s an accomplishment that I’m proud of and I’m so very grateful for it. We should pursue those things that will bless us in order for us to be a blessing to others. However, all I truly want, with all of my heart is for my Heavenly Father to look at me one day and say, “Well done daughter.” What else really matters?