It was such a struggle having to sit for my online test and not refer to my notes that I had so painstakingly prepared for this occasion.
I knew exactly where in my notes to get the precise answer. I could even picture the page and the diagrams, but the exact words needed were a blur in my mind.
I scrolled back to the top to reread the instructions so many times, trying to find a loophole.
Logically, nobody would ever know, so the instructions to “not refer to any material” because it was a closed-book test seemed redundant. And yet it struck a deep conviction in my heart that I just couldn’t ignore.
Integrity is a scout badge I wear proudly since the day I committed to it. It defines me as a person and as a child of God.
But this time, my integrity was put to the test. What if I was the only one who followed the rules? Would I be able to accept the unfair outcome?
So many times I cried out to God for strength to do the right thing.
After submitting the test, I shared my struggle on Instagram and many brothers and sisters in Christ encouraged me for making the decision not to cheat. But I know many others wouldn’t understand why I did what I did.
In essence, integrity is what you do when no one but God sees. I wanted to be at peace with myself and God… though this was easier said than done.
When my midterm results were released, I procrastinated checking them. But when I finally decided to do it, I learnt that my marks were below average.
That day, I was dreading meeting my friends for dinner because I knew they would ask me about my results. Sure enough, the first thing they did when they saw me was just that. They even went on talking about it after I tried to change the topic.
Though I do not regret the decision I made, I still found it very hard to completely accept the outcome that doing the right thing meant getting lower marks than everyone else. This was probably due to the value I assigned to certain things like grades, fairness in assessment, and instant and tangible benefits.
Every time a friend were to mention this midterm, I just wanted to disappear. I wasn’t ashamed of my decision – it was just painful to relive the process.
I shared this incident with my pastor when she asked me how my week was. Her reply was: “Even though your marks are below average, do you know that you actually did better than everyone else?”
I learnt that day that we should be more concerned with God’s standards than the world’s.
We may not see any exceedingly positive outcome at the moment or even in the near future, but our God is ever faithful and our hope is in the age to come.
Instead of being short-sighted and placing grades and achievement on the pedestal, we should view every action we take as having eternal and kingdom significance.
I believe the way to overcome this, albeit gradually, is to change our perspective about the “end result or goal”. The “end result” of every action and decision made is our spiritual walk.
God also reminded me of the quote by Neil Armstrong during the moon landing and encouraged me with His version of it: A small step for Corinna, a giant leap for Corinna and Jesus.
There is a part 2 to this story because I had a final online test for that same module.
Though I put in effort to study, I still hoped that the instructions would change, so that I would be allowed to refer to my notes if needed.
Upon starting the online test, I discovered that the instructions this time were even more explicit. My professor explained that we were not to look at our notes or collaborate with our friends, stating clearly: “This is cheating.”
Admittedly, there were still many questions I was unsure about even after studying because of the extensive scope of this module. I just prayed that I wouldn’t get a score lower than my first test – that was my only wish.
If you expected an outstanding grade just because I studied and remained honest, sorry to pour an ice-cold bucket of reality over your head.
God answered my prayer and I received the exact same grade as the first test. However, this meant that my results were still below average, and I had to accept that I might get a “C” for this module.
I had thought that after allowing God to deal with me after the first test, I would be totally okay this time. Instead, I went to my secret place with God and bawled my eyes out. There, He comforted and counselled me.
I would like to share with you a few things I learnt from this whole experience.
- We may not make it in the world’s economy, but in God’s perfect economy, we can be outstanding.
- We have to stop holding on to worldly values such as the importance of instant gratification and results.
- We should train ourselves to outgrow the mere acceptance of not seeing any positive outcomes by the world’s standards when we do what is right in the eyes of God. Because Jesus even warns of negative outcomes we have to face as his followers such as strong opposition and persecution (John 15:20).
- We need to learn to be patient and know that God is good, just and faithful. He will reward us in due time (Psalm 31:19, Matthew 10:41). These are heavenly rewards – treasures we store up in heaven for eternity (Matthew 6:19-21).
And yet ultimately we ought to do the right thing not for personal gain and reward, but because we love God and want to represent Him well and please Him.
He sees everything we do and keeps it close to His heart. He rejoices every time His children choose Him and His ways.
With the growing popularity of online assessments due to the pandemic, I pray for all my brothers and sisters to persevere and carry on making godly decisions.
I pray that we will never compromise.
- What compromises – small or big – in integrity have you made before?
- Why is integrity important?
- Was there a time when you did what was right but did not get the results you expected? Why did God teach you through that?