“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” –Frederick Douglass
One afternoon when school was over for the day, my daughter came into my classroom with such a sad expression on her little face. One of the perks of being a teacher in the same school that your kids attend, if you have a problem, you go and see your mom right away! Anyway, she slung her backpack on top of a desk, slumped into a chair and let out the biggest sigh.
I’m behind my desk getting my things together. All the days papers that need to be taken home and graded need some kind of order, and I just can’t stand coming in the next morning with a messy desk. She looks over at me because I guess I didn’t give her the reaction she wanted. This time, she let out another sigh, but she also added the arched back and slouched chair position. It was too dramatic to ignore.
“What’s going on, Paisley?” I ask
“Mom, I’m having trouble in class;” she said.
So, I asked, “what kind of trouble?”
“Well, “ she said, “I keep cheating!! I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t help it! The teacher has me sitting too close to the other kids!
Ok, I think to myself. I mean, on one hand, I’m really happy that she is telling me that she is cheating and that she feels bad about it. I’ve always wanted an open and honest relationship with my kids, and I have really encouraged transparency at all costs. But, on the other hand, she’s cheating! And, it is at the school where I teach! This teacher is my coworker! Geez!
Oh my gosh! I could totally envision her little eyes darting at her neighbor’s desk. I could see her little sweaty hand writing down their answer on her paper. What do I do here? I know, I’ll act super cool about it. Not too cool to where it would make her suspicious, but just cool enough.
I didn’t overreact. I acted distracted, and just asked the question, “So, what are you going to do about it?”
She said that she already had an answer. She had thought about it long and hard, and had a plan. She was going to tell the teacher to move her during tests so she wouldn’t be tempted. Wow! That’s a great idea, I thought. Awwww….my little girl is growing up and learning how to deal with her own problems. Proud moment…although she is a cheater, I’m happy she felt guilty. C’mon y’all, we have got to take the successes when they come.
So, the next day she came into my classroom and yelled, “I did it again! She didn’t move me far away enough!”
Are you kidding me?? I then proceeded to use a more direct voice with her, “You better stop this cheating! You know it’s wrong. C’mon, get it together!”
Good grief! I mean, she has done something wrong and needs to stop doing it now! However, she is not happy with herself, has told her teacher AND her mom that she has a problem, and is still trying to figure out how to solve it. As a momma, I wanted to fix it for her, but I really felt that she had been so forthright, that she needed the chance to try to solve it for herself.
“I know, I know, I’m just so tempted!” she tells me. “I’m going to ask her to do whatever it takes to make sure I can’t see anyone else’s paper. WHATEVER IT TAKES!”
The next day, I knew that she had a test, and I wanted to go and check on her to see how her little problem was going. Since the doors had big windows next to them, I had to be very sneaky trying to get a peek at her. I noticed her desk was empty. I scanned the room to try to find her, but I couldn’t see her anywhere? Is she even in here? Finally, I had to blow my cover, and just go in and look for her.
As I walked up to the room, I could see the top of my daughter’s head. There she was. She was sitting on the floor, facing the wall with her work on a clipboard in her lap. My heart just welled up. I don’t know if y’all remember, but it’s kind of embarrassing to sit on the floor in the 4th grade when all the other kids are in their desk. I walked over to the teacher and asked her what had happened, and she said that Paisley chose to sit on the floor so she wouldn’t be tempted to let her eyes wonder over to her friend’s paper. Another proud momma moment! She chose the right thing to do even if it meant that she might get made fun of or be embarrassed. Her integrity was worth more than that. I wasn’t frustrated with her anymore. I admired her.
But, isn’t that lesson true for all of us? Being a Christian doesn’t mean we don’t ever mess up or get tempted. In fact, we make bad choices all the time. But, it does mean that we keep trying to get it right. It means that we do whatever we need to do to not let sin creep in and cause us to be people that don’t honor God. If you are struggling right now with a particular sin, there is hope! Talk about it with your family or friends. Get an accountability partner, no matter how hard or embarrassing that can be. Don’t let sin drag you down. Take it to Jesus; He is more powerful than any temptation.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” Proverbs 2:6-8