The boards didn’t break.
I was testing for my black belt in tae kwon do and had prepared for the day in every way that I knew how. The test for the first black belt rank requires the demonstration of nine forms or patterns of tae kwon do moves, single-combat sparring, sparring against three people, and culminates with breaking boards—four with a kick and two with your hand. Despite all my practice—coming early and staying late to break boards, refining my technique to harness all my power in the kick—when it came to the final portion of the test, the boards didn’t break.
This experience really showed me what a practical support to our lives the Bible Lesson can be.
In Sunday School we had talked about how I could pray about my upcoming test. During the two weeks leading up to it, I had specifically and thoroughly studied the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, marking passages I felt would be helpful and praying with those ideas. I haven’t always been the best about studying the Bible Lesson every day, especially as a teenager, but this experience really showed me what a practical support to our lives the Bible Lesson can be.
Going into the test, I was definitely nervous, reading over my highlighted passages in the car almost like I was cramming for an exam. But during the test I was glad I’d looked them over again, as the passages I had studied in preparation came back to me and were a strong support.
At one point, during a sparring match, I began to feel tired and worried I might not have the strength to complete the test successfully. However, a passage I’d studied popped into thought, though likely not word for word. Here’s the way the Amplified Bible puts it: “The Lord God is my Strength …; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!” (Habakkuk 3:19, Amplified Bible, Classic Edition).
This passage reminded me that strength was not something that came from muscles or a physical body. It was a reflected quality, a spiritual quality that came from God and therefore was unlimited. I embraced this idea, and when I had a second sparring match, this time against three people, I no longer felt exhausted.
I was, however, nervous about the final portion of the test. I still felt that it was on me to break the boards.
When the moment came, I stepped forward, kicked … and my foot did not go through the boards. It was the closest to breaking them you can get without actually breaking them. The boards were plastic boards—two halves with teeth fitted together. They buckled, but did not fully separate.
I felt the tense feeling in the room of everyone holding their breath. If I didn’t break the boards on my second attempt, I would have to wait for the next test in three months.
Strength was a reflected quality, a spiritual quality that came from God and therefore was unlimited.
My tae kwon do instructor told me, “You know what to do.” And I did know what to do; I had to get a sense of personal responsibility, personal strength, and personal ability out of the way. As I positioned myself for my second attempt, I turned to God and remembered from my preparation the lines, “Certainly I will be with thee” (Exodus 3:12) and the line from Habakkuk again: “The Lord God is my strength.” All nervousness left and I was completely calm. It honestly did not even feel like I was breaking the boards, and this time my foot went through the boards smoothly. I had passed!
This moment has been a landmark in my understanding of Christian Science and its practical application in our daily lives. It is an experience I have looked back on throughout high school and college when facing looming deadlines, tests, and papers, as it was a turning point in my understanding of God’s presence in my life—a turning toward God. In the end, the boards did break, but what really broke through to me was the importance of Christian Science in my life and the power of relying on God.