I haven’t always been the model citizen I am now. In high School, I was known for my tendency to break the rules in new and innovative ways. I was in Form two and my school implemented a new Holiday Homework system. I think they had seen it done at other schools that were ranking higher than us in the District. (Or province; I’m not sure which). There had always been the option for teachers to give Holiday Homework at the discretion, but this term, the administration decided that it would be mandatory for all students and teachers.
If you’ve been to school with me, you’ll know that homework was never my strong point. Even while in school, let alone during the holidays. And this holiday especially. See, my parents had left the country to attend a conference and tour the US for a few months. So there I was, sixteen, home for the holidays with no parental supervision. I’m sure you can understand how homework was the last thing on my mind that month. Towards the end of the holiday, I mentioned to my friend that I hadn’t done my homework and I needed to come up with a good excuse before school started. (Obviously, I had no intention to actually do the homework.) We played with a few ideas, one of which was for me to say that our house had caught on fire and all my books got burned. We laughed about that one. We didn’t really come up with a solid excuse. I mean, who had time to think about such things when there was still so much fun to be had.
First forward to the first day of class when I went back to school, the first teacher who asked about the holiday homework was the Kiswahili teacher. I don’t remember his name, but he was a short, laid back man with whom I had not previously had any conflict. He rarely ever gave us assignments so I wasn’t expecting him to take this holiday homework thing seriously. Unfortunately, he did, and I had no homework and no solid excuse to give. The house burning down idea crossed my mind briefly and before I knew what was happening the words were tumbling out of my mouth. After a brief, extremely awkward silence, he told me to go the Deputy Principal and explain what had happened. He obviously wasn’t willing to deal this level of insanity. As I walked to the Deputy’s office, I tried to think of a way to get myself out of this hole I’d started to dig before it got too deep. I decided that the truth was my only option.
I knocked on her door, and when I was summoned to come in I told her that the Kiswahili teacher sent me because I hadn’t done my homework. I also added that when he asked me for a reason why, I lied. She asked what the lie was and when I told her, I watched her get confused. She didn’t know whether to scold me for not doing my required assignment or to applaud me for being the most honest student she had ever met. She decided to go straight to the punishment, which was a two-week suspension. I thanked her and proceeded to go home. I was partly glad that I had managed to come clean and was paying for my crime, but I was also a bit scared because my dad was coming home the next day.
I didn’t try to lie to my dad about why I was at home when I arrived, but I did conveniently leave out the part about my lie. Since we hadn’t seen each other for so long, we enjoyed the two weeks we had before he had to take me back to school. He also had a lot of work to do since he had been away and needed to get back to the groove of work. We didn’t talk about the suspension again until we were in the car, halfway to school. He asked if I had been given any kind of documentation that I needed to bring back with me. I said yes and pulled out the Leave-Out Form from the Deputy Principal. Since he was driving, he asked me to read it to him:
“Grace is being suspended for a period of two weeks due to failure to complete her holiday assignment and giving a grievous lie as an excuse.”
“What was the grievous lie?” The question I had been dreading the most.
“I said that the house burnt down.”
“Oh, your house?”
Brief silence. “Sigh! And they sent you home for that? Some of these things we expect the teachers to deal with. I mean, what did they expect you to do? You had not finished your homework and you didn’t want to be rude, so you lie.”
I could not believe what I was hearing. Was my dad actually taking my side on this? I hadn’t really ever been in this kind of situation with him before so I didn’t know quite what to expect. I definitely was not expecting this. He proceeded to explain to me how logical it was that I would tell a lie in that situation and he even commended the fact that I later came clean. After he was done with the deputy principal, I ended up being her favorite student for the rest of the term. No one ever even asked me about that holiday homework.
‘So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.’
‘For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” ‘ Romans 8:1,14-15 (NLT)
This is what it is like to belong to the family of God. We expect God to judge and condemn us for our sin, but He looks on us with love, knowing that He already paid the price for our sin through Christ.