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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)

TITLE: That's Not What It Means
By Jean Boulmay


Sitting in Dr. Pane’s class, forty-one year old Janet Duncan stared at the instruction sheet with a look of puzzlement on her face. This assignment was especially important, being a large percentage of the grade for the semester. “He doesn’t mean I can’t use the paper I wrote last semester,” she said softly to herself. She knew she did not have the time to write a new case study report. Besides, she had already written several last semester. There was one paper in particular that would fit this assignment perfectly. She frowned at the teacher’s instructions prohibiting the use of earlier written material. “He can’t mean I am not allowed to use my own work,” she thought. “I wrote it all myself!”

As Janet lay in bed that night, she was wide awake, stewing about the paper due in just a few days. “Lord, you know I wrote EVERY word of that case study,” she prayed. “Is it really wrong for me to use it?” As a Christian, Janet wanted to do what was right, but didn’t feel the instructions REALLY meant what they seemed to mean. “Oh well, I guess I’ll find out tomorrow morning in class,” she mumbled.

After tossing and turning most of the night, Janet did not bounce out of bed the next morning with her usual enthusiasm. Awaking with a jerk, she looked at the clock sitting on the nightstand. She was going to be late for class if she didn’t get to moving! With no time for even a quick shower, she hurriedly splashed water on her face and swiped at her teeth with the red handled toothbrush. With quick motions, Janet snatched her favorite pink blouse from the closet, and a pair of jeans that would fit her short chunky legs. She slipped her feet into the well-worn brown leather sandals, and started down the long hallway, while buttoning her blouse. In her haste, she almost slid down the beige carpeted stairs. Within two minutes, Janet was out the door with a bottle of water, and a blueberry filled donut.

When Janet arrived at school, she found fellow students mulling around Dr. Pane’s classroom door. The small crowd was buzzing with talk of the upcoming assignment. “I’m going to use the case study I wrote for Dr. Brent’s class last semester!” she heard one of her male classmates state in a clear, firm voice. Before there was time for further discussion, the class room door swung open, and the group moved as one towards the open door. During class, no one seemed to feel the need to discuss the case study assignment, and Janet was too timid to broach the subject. Besides, she wasn’t sure she wanted a discussion to take place. She already knew what the instructions meant anyway! The paper she was going to turn in was good. She had put a lot of effort into it last semester, and had made an “A”.

On the drive home, Janet wondered why she felt so uneasy. While dodging people and cars, her thoughts wondered to the upcoming assignment. She went over the instructions several times in her mind. She couldn’t get past “cannot use previously submitted papers.”

That night, Janet climbed into the king-sized bed and snuggled up against her sleeping husband, pulling the soft, Down comforter over them both. Jim never debated long about what was right or wrong. He just always seemed to do the right thing. Janet contemplated why she had not discussed her school assignment with her kind, always-honest husband. For the second night, Janet lay wide-eyed. The more she thought about honesty, and doing what’s right, the clearer her thoughts became. “Lord, please let me do what’s right,” she prayed, as she fell into a deep restful sleep.

The next morning, Janet was up early. Still in her white terry cloth robe, with a mug of hot coffee sitting beside her, she was furiously typing into her computer. Since there was no school today, she had the entire day to work on an assignment! Dr. Pane would expect the new case study to be turned in first thing tomorrow morning.

Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight08/23/04
Nice piece! Those gray areas usually aren't all that gray.
L.M. Lee08/24/04
I liked the compliment you paid the hubby. God sends us people to help us stay on course, if we'll just listen to them.
Lucian Thompson08/28/04
Nice, Jean…very thought provoking!
Melanie Kerr 08/29/04
When we know something is right, no amount of justification will change that.
Roberta Kittrell08/29/04
Isn't it strange how even those of us who know we have been told "to be in the world" and not "of it" let the world's way of thinking cloud our thinking? We cease to remember, or shove it back into the recesses of our minds, that God is righteousness. With respect to education requirements, we develop tunnel vision and focus on that one course and the goal for being in that particular course. How many times have forgotten that our major goal is to be that vessel emptied of self and filled with His Holy Spirit that He may work and shine through us.

Very good story.