The Cheating Lesson

By Britney Rule

(Based on a true story)

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Let no man deceive himself (1 Corinthians 3:18).

“Students, here is the math portion of the test,” Miss Higgins said as she handed out papers. “Remember, you need to fill in the circles on the answer sheet completely. Just do your best, and I’m sure you will do fine.”

Most of my fifth-grade class groaned. We had been taking tests all day, and we were tired. But I wasn’t too worried. I was good at math. I took out my pencil and checked the eraser.

“Now, keep your eyes on your own paper,” Miss Higgins said. “The test will end at 1:30. Ready, begin.”

I began working on the problems carefully and took my time to fill in each circle on the answer sheet. Most of the problems weren’t too hard. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Brent scribbling furiously. I laughed to myself. “Slow and steady wins the race,” I thought.

All of a sudden, Miss Higgins’s voice interrupted my thoughts. “Time’s up! Pencils down, everybody.”

I looked at my paper in horror. I still had two columns of circles to fill in! “How could this have happened?” I thought. “I usually do so well!”

I looked down at my scratch paper. I had written the next answer, but I hadn’t filled in the circle yet. I glanced around, then carefully filled in the correct circle.

Trying not to think about what I was doing, I continued working on problems and filling in answers. No one was looking at me. I quickly filled in five or six more circles.

“Lauren!” said a loud voice from behind me.

I jumped and whirled around to see Miss Higgins. The class was silent. I wished I could fall into a hole. I felt my eyes filling up with tears. I quickly erased all the answers that I had filled in after the time was up and handed my answer sheet to Miss Higgins. She took it away, and I put my head on my desk and hid my face in my arms.

I had been cheating! An awful blackness filled me up inside. My whole class had seen me, and now my teacher probably wouldn’t trust me ever again. I knew I was supposed to be honest. Instead, I had disappointed my teacher, myself, and, worst of all, Heavenly Father. And I had pushed away my conscience without really thinking about it.

The rest of the day continued as usual—or, at least I think it did. I didn’t answer any questions or talk to my friends. That same heavy, dark feeling stayed with me. I knew I needed to repent.

After class, I gathered all my courage to apologize to Miss Higgins. I could see the disappointment on her face. “I’m sorry,” I said. I couldn’t say anything more. I ran back to my desk, grabbed my backpack, and started to hurry out the door.

“Lauren,” Miss Higgins called.

I stopped, fearing the worst. “Yes?”

“Promise me you will never cheat again.”

“Oh, I promise!” I said. I had already made that promise to myself a hundred times that day.

“Good,” she said. “Thank you.”

The dark feeling began to leave. After class I said a prayer, asking Heavenly Father’s forgiveness and thanking Him for a kind teacher. Peace filled my heart. It felt good to be clean again.

Illustration by Maryn Roos