“The PSLE is finally here!” I thought to myself, as I dropped my son off at school this week.

Like many other parents in Singapore, I felt as if I was the one taking the Primary School Leaving Examinations that all Primary 6 pupils sit for, to determine which secondary school they enter. The pressure to excel is so great that it’s common to hear parents say things like:

“I’ve decided to take a year off work. It’s my daughter’s PSLE year.”
“We’ve cancelled our March holiday plans. My son’s PSLE is in September.”
“I have no headspace to think right now. Can I get back to you after our PSLE?”

How does a Christian parent survive (and thrive) under this pressure?

Searching My Heart

It has been an instructive year for me. I have come to realise that diligent studying is pleasing to God. Colossians 3:23 says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” while Proverbs 13:4 reminds us: “The desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”

Have I been encouraging my son to be diligent for God’s glory? Or, for my glory?

I have also come to realise that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), and can lead us astray. This has been my key struggle: Have I been encouraging my son to be diligent for God’s glory? Or, for my glory—to feed my pride, which is my sense of what I think I deserve; and to ease my fear that my son won’t be able to live up to the world’s standards?

Repeatedly, I’ve had to cry out like the psalmist did: “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).

Difficult and drawn-out situations that we cannot perfectly control often bring us to our knees to plead with the Lord for help. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The moments when we surrender our pride and fear are the exact moments when we experience the mercy and grace of God. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:16). He strengthens us in our times of need, giving us a peace that transcends all understanding and that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–7).

I have discovered what PSLE really stands for. It stands for “Positive Spiritual Learning Experience”. Through this PSLE, I have been given the opportunity to search my heart, surrender, and simply, rest in Him. Over and over again.

Don’t we all need more “PSLE”s in our lives?

O Lord, search my heart, as I surrender my pride and fear to You during this PSLE period. Fill me with your mercy and grace, and allow me to be an instrument of mercy and grace to my child as he takes the exams. May this turn out to be a positive spiritual learning experience for me and my child—regardless of what the exams are like and how my child scores in his grades. Help us to study, work, and rest in You and for You.


This article was originally published on Spotlight. Adapted with permission.

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Ruth Wan-Lau has spent over a decade working in publishing. She is a children’s book author who has written over 30 books, including the well-known Timmy and Tammy series. Ruth and her husband are blessed with three amazing children.
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