In the Wake of the Recent College Cheating Scandal

Unless you’ve been holed up under a rock (I’m in “Cave Mode” while writing a book—and even I know about this doozey of a scandal!), you will have heard, read, and seen countless stories about the recent college cheating scandal. Obviously the media has latched itself onto the celebrities from Hollywood and named them the faces of the scandal of the year. 

I know 99.9% of us have not paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to “donate to a charity” (but really to boost our high schooler’s chances of getting into an Ivy League school.) And we haven’t paid to have test proctors erase and correct our teen’s answers on the ACT or SAT, or fabricate stories and photos to make our non-athletic kids look like they could receive scholarships for collegiate sports teams. But this recent scandal did strike me as an exaggerated version of an epidemic in our society. Many of us are not actually trusting God to be in control of our kids’ lives. 

Whether it manifests itself in worry, anxiety, pulling strings, being overly involved, “helicopter parenting”, whatever it looks like . . . we are, ironically, trying to make ourselves feel better about the future.  

And yet it usually leads to less peace, not more. 

When my daughter started college recently, I found myself doing something completely crazy, letting worry run wild. I figured if I could somehow do this ONE THING, everything would be ok and I would feel better. I was trying to be in control, ignoring the fact that it is God’s job. 

I was essentially saying to God—“I’ve got this. You can take the night off. I am totally in control here, Sir.” 

What resulted was a hilarious—and somewhat embarrassing!—lesson. (Read on if you want a chuckle at my expense.)

The point is, let us be aware that whether big or small, our actions reveal where our trust really abides. And my hope for all of us is that it would abide in Jesus. 

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming new devotional called Find Peace: A 40-Day Devotional Journey for Moms. 

In the last weeks before we moved my oldest child into her dorm at an urban college, I found myself getting misty-eyed at the oddest times. My daughter had taken to patting me on the shoulder and saying, “That’s ok, Mom, you’re fragile.” I was. I still am. But I was excited about her new adventure, too. I was eager to see what God had in store. 

Unfortunately, that still didn’t translate to completely sane thinking.

The day after we dropped her off, I continuously checked the tracking app she still had on her phone. (In lieu of attaching a beacon to her head, this seemed like the next best thing.) 

“Oh, look, she’s at lunch!” “Oh, look, she must be at that sorority rush meeting!” “Oh, look, she’s walking across campus; she must be going to that international dining hall.”

It was a tiny little glimpse of a girl I already missed so much it hurt.

Jeff humored my slightly obsessive stalking. I told him it made me feel better knowing where our daughter was and guessing what she might be doing.

Late that night in bed I checked the app one more time. Her little dot appeared right outside an unfamiliar dorm.

“Cool, she must be at a party, making new friends.” But in the next moment it was moving at great speed—away from campus to a large condo complex across town! At 11 p.m.! 

Suddenly I was on high alert, my thoughts whirring. How could she be in a car? Very few freshmen had one. I knew parties at this massive public university would be a stark wake-up call from her low-key friends at her small, Christian high school. She’d had no experience extricating herself from a situation where someone was drinking and driving.

Before I could stop them, my thoughts flitted down scarier paths: Someone could have thrown her into a car! 

I had to know. My heart beating fast, I pulled up a maps app and located the looming building in the midst of the condo complex. I zoomed in.

It was a Target.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or feel ashamed of myself. I shakily texted her a falsely cheery greeting. “How are you enjoying your first night at school? I’m still up if you want to call.” Two minutes later, the phone rang. 

“Hey Mom! Guess what? It’s college night at Target! They even had a shuttle; I’m here with all the girls from my hall!”

As I hung up the phone, I glanced sideways at Jeff. Trying not to laugh, he said, “We need to talk about this.”

Obviously, I was not handling things well. I needed to start weaning myself from the app. But more importantly, I realized I was seeking comfort and reassurance in entirely the wrong place. I wanted to know where my daughter was without being willing to rest in the fact that God knew. I scrambled for information to make me feel better instead of trusting her to God’s care. A care that wouldn’t change whether she was in my home or in her dorm or shopping at Target at 11 p.m.

Continually placing our children into the care of our Heavenly Father is the only way to peace. There are so many things in this world that can terrify us (and we moms can come up with some pretty spectacular scenarios, am I right?). But when we’re fearful, we need to be like the psalmist who “sought for the Lord.” Not an app. Not more information. Not the reassurance of a phone call.

There will always be one more phone call needed. One more situation. One more worry. The only permanent, unshakable peace is found in Him.

*Excerpts taken from Shaunti’s upcoming book, Find Peace: A 40-Day Devotional Journey for Moms due out April 10, 2019. Pre-order your copy here!

Looking for encouragement for your life and relationships? Learn about the little things that make a big difference in every relationship, from marriages to parenting. Subscribe to updates from Shaunti here!

Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).

Her latest book, Find Peace: A 40-day Devotional Journey For Moms, focuses on discovering biblical direction to become a woman of serenity and delight in all seasons – and have impact for generations to come.

Visit for more.

This article was first published at Patheos.

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