The Right Kind of Fear is a Good Thing

I cheated on a test . . . once. I am not proud of it. I did get caught. I am glad that I did . . . get caught, that is.

It was in math: dry and liquid measures, memorized. I thought it was too much.

After all, my head was full of baseball. Now if you had asked me to know the distance from pitcher’s mound to home plate, or first base to second base, or home plate to the fence, or how many homeruns Roger Maris hit the year before, or Mickey Mantle’s batting average, those things would have been different.

So I cheated. Having written down the measurements on an index card, I held it between my legs during the test. Talk about telegraphing a message to the teacher, I could have put up a neon sign and not been any more obvious.

Seeing me from across the room, Mrs. Stanton came up to my desk and asked me for the card. I said, “What card?” She looked right through me, and I gave her the card.

She made a big deal of it. She should have. Calling in Mrs. McCord from across the hall, they discussed my case in the hallway with me standing between them. It was like the Judgment Day, and I was guilty.

When they decided to call my dad, I lost it. I feared for my life. My dad was a clear “right and wrong” guy, and this was wrong and I would be dead.

I wept, I begged, I pleaded, I promised never, NEVER, NEVER to cheat again, if they would not call my dad. She gave me a zero on the test, but she did not call my dad. THEN she told me if I ever cheated again that she would call him right away.

I knew that she would keep her word; so I kept mine. I never cheated again–ever. I studied, I did my homework, I prayed, I asked questions in class, I made a few low grades, but I did not cheat. That was in fifth grade.

Years later, when I graduated from high school, my dad was proud. I was too. Seeing Mrs. Stanton in the crowd–her son Bob was in my class–I walked up to her that day and I told her the story. She didn’t even remember it. I told her that I had kept my promise, and I thanked her for catching me and for making a big deal of it.

Thank the Lord if your kid gets caught.

Thank the Lord if he has a teacher like Mrs. Stanton.

Thank the Lord if he has a dad that is a “right and wrong” kind of guy. The right kind of fear is a good thing.