Young Disciple Blog Back to Subscribe RSS

Uneasy Conscience

by Christina Boyd Evert

It started as a great day. With my homework completed, I actually looked forward to my first period class—sixth-grade science. The class was about to start when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“Hey Christina, did you do your social studies homework?”

“Yup.” I grinned at my classmate, Michael.

“Could I see it?” he asked.


“Well, I didn’t quite finish. Please, could I use it for just a second?” Michael’s voice had a desperate tone to it.

“But Michael, that’s cheating!” I frowned.

“Oh, come on,” he urged. “I promise we won’t get caught.”

I raised my eyebrows, hoping to shut him up; but he paid no attention. “I’ll put it under my paper and Mrs. Bailey will never see it. Please? I’ve got to get it done.” He gazed at me with puppy dog eyes.

I fumbled for an answer. I knew it wasn’t right, but Michael kept nagging. Finally, I slipped him my paper.

Michael had just started to fill in the first blank when Mrs. Bailey began walking around the room, checking to see if everyone had their books and papers out for class. I held my breath as she neared us. To my dismay, she stopped right next to Michael’s desk. “Michael,” she scolded, “put that away and get out your science book.”

“Um, sure,” Michael stammered. “I was just going to do that.” He whisked our social studies papers into his desk and grinned up at the teacher.

“Wait a minute.” Mrs. Bailey’s voice had that certain tone that spelled trouble. “Did I see someone else’s paper there? Let me take a look.”

His head hanging low, Michael handed Mrs. Bailey our papers. She scanned the pages, then strode back to her desk and scribbled something on a paper. Then she marched out of the classroom.

I swung around and glared at Michael. “Great!” I hissed. “Now what are we going to do? I can’t believe this is happening! I am going to be in such big trouble.”

“Don’t worry,” Michael mumbled. “I’ll just say that I took your paper without your permission. That way they’ll think you had nothing to do with it.”

“No way!” I shook my head. “I couldn’t do that. I am as much to blame as you are.”

Just then, Mrs. Bailey walked back into the classroom. She glanced at us for a moment, a look of disappointment etched across her face. I sank down in my chair, overwhelmed with shame and guilt. Mrs. Bailey sighed and began class. Time dragged, as images of what might happen next taunted my miserable mind.

Silent lie
The bell finally rang, signaling the end of the class period. Anxiety clutched my heart as I made my way to the social studies classroom. As I walked into the room, I could not even make myself look at my teacher. I found my seat, wondering what would happen next.

I didn’t have long to wait. As soon as all the students had arrived, our social studies teacher asked Michael and me to step outside with her. My stomach twisted in fear as I crept into the hallway.

“Christina,” Miss Hollister began, “Mrs. Bailey gave me a note saying she found Michael copying your social studies homework. Is this true?” A look of disbelief clouded her face.

I opened my mouth to answer, but Michael cut in. “Honest, Miss Hollister, Christina didn’t have anything to do with it. I saw her paper lying on her desk, and since I didn’t do my homework I decided to borrow it and copy it. She didn’t even know I took it.”

I stared at Michael, my mouth hanging open. Miss Hollister touched my arm. “Christina, is that true?” As if in a trance, I nodded my head.

“In that case, Michael, I’ll have to give you a zero for this assignment.” Miss Hollister wadded up his partially completed paper, then handed me my paper. “Christina, take better care of your assignments in the future.”

I walked numbly back to my seat. I had avoided the bad grade, but somehow I didn’t feel relieved. Instead, I felt as if a heavy burden had been strapped to my shoulders.

After class, I confronted Michael. “We have to do something,” I told him. “I can’t just pretend like nothing happened. What we did was dishonest. I deserved a zero, too.”

Michael shrugged. “Look, it happened and we can’t change that. Just forget it.”

But my conscience wouldn’t let me ignore it. “Michael,” I exclaimed,“I was at fault, too. Please forgive me. I never wanted anything like this to happen.”

“Lighten up! It’s no big deal.” Michael glanced at his watch. “Better run. The bell’s going to ring any time.”

That night, I asked God to forgive me. But I knew God wanted me to make things right with Miss Hollister, too. No! I argued. I could never do that. I’m supposed to be a Christian. What would she think if she learned that I not only cheated but also lied?

The school year passed slowly. I did well in my classes, and made sure not to cheat again. Still, the weight of my dishonesty grew heavier and heavier. Several times I actually decided to talk to Miss Hollister; but then I’d draw back.

That June, just before school let out for the summer, Miss Hollister announced that she was going to get married and would no longer be teaching at our school. I felt a sense of relief. Maybe if I never saw her again, my conscience could be at rest. I threw myself into the activities of summer: swimming; family vacation; games; reading. During the day, I made sure I was too busy to think. But too often I’d lie awake at night, reliving the events of that fateful morning. I disappointed God, I thought. If I had relied on Him, I would be able to look back on the experience as a victory rather than a failure. Even afterward, He would have helped me make things right if I’d only turned to Him. Now I knew there was something far worse than humbling myself and making things right with Miss Hollister. Living with a guilty conscience was far greater torment.

Finally, one muggy night, I struggled to my knees. “Lord!” I prayed. “I really blew it. I didn’t have the courage to make things right with Miss Hollister, and now it’s too late. Forgive me for being such a coward. And help me not to fall again.”

My heart filled with a peace I hadn’t experienced for months. That night God gave me the forgiveness and freedom from guilt my heart longed for. Not only that, He changed my heart, and helped me begin to trust His guidance in all situations.

I don’t dread the thought of seeing Miss Hollister anymore. In fact, I hope to someday find her and tell her what God has taught me.

Christina Boyd Evert served for a number of years as an editorial assistant and a designer for YD magazine. She is married to Ted Evert and is currently a full time mother. She wrote this story while in college. 

No comments:

Post a Comment