Stress. Whether you're 13, 27, or 45, “being stressed” seems to be the norm these days. We apply it to any and every circumstance with almost this idea that if we are not feeling stress, then we are doing something wrong. During exam season, that can very much be the pervasive reality for students.
We can see that there are different kinds of stress in all of our lives. Some forms of stress can actually be good for us. It can drive us and motivate us to work hard, meet goals, follow through on responsibilities, or complete given tasks. During exam season, there is a reality that those days are different than other school days. Students might even have a different school schedule that week. A small change like that can alert our bodies that this different schedule is important and cue good stress.
However, many of us do not stay in the arena of good stress. It is not merely something that drives us to work hard. Rather, stress begins to control and bind us. It is something that produces fear, anxiety, and is constantly seeking control.
For many students today, so much weight is placed on exam grades all throughout middle and high school in terms of how it effects their future. This naturally increases stress levels in students. Rather than seeking to do the best they can on an exam or in a particular class, there is a fear of many that anything short of perfection leads to shattered dreams of their future plans. This in turn produces anxiety and a constant battle to be the one in control of their lives.
As believers, we can see the fault in this. For starters, we can know that we have nothing to fear because we are held by the all powerful God of perfect love. We do not have to fear because he is always gracious and loving to his children. Before and during exams, take time to read 1 John 4:18 and John 16:33 with your student.
Anxiety can creep its way in before we even realize it. We become so lost in the things that create fear in us (like a major test) that we do not remember that God is with us. It is a beautiful thing to think on how God desires for us to not be anxious or worry. As exam preparations are underway, read Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:4-7.
The battle for control is one we are constantly tempted to fight. The pride in us wants to be the one in control of how things go down in our lives. Yet, we will forever find that we are not the ones with ultimate control. God holds all things together and is the only one who holds that office. At the same time, this does not exempt us from the role of following through on our responsibility and working hard at the things the Lord puts before us. Encourage your student to work hard and do their best, but to let go of the feeling, thought, or belief that they can be in total control of their lives. There is great rest in trusting that God is in control and our role is to trust him. Read Romans 8:28 together.
Take the opportunities that arise during exam season to talk about the heart issues that are at play. Lead girls to look to the truths of God’s Word in seasons when she feels fear, anxiety, and desire for control. Memorize these verses together that they might be handles to grab hold of when the enemy uses situations and circumstances throughout life to lure her into modes of thinking that do not rely on God.
God is so gracious in ways of exam season to invite us into deeper understanding of his love for us and desire to care for us. Take advantage of the opportunities to lead your daughter, small group, or friends to God’s truths when life seems difficult and exams seem impossible. - Becca