How do we talk to our kids about our past mistakes? We can learn a lot from Jesus’ example. Listen in and be encouraged!
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Luke 8:1-3, 16, 26-38
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Hey friends, this is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the podcast today. How are you guys doing? Hope you guys are doing good. Today is Wednesday, March 11. March is just humming right along. This is episode number 896 and today I’m going to give a little bit of encouragement to you from the word of God and I’m going to answer a question from a listener about how to talk to our kids about our past mistakes. We can learn a lot from Jesus’ example. Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right, you guys. So it’s the 11th of March. This is so exciting. You know what that means? That means that my women’s conference Faith That Speaks is in a couple of days. That means that in just a couple of days I’m going to be in Los Angeles at Thousand Oaks at Godspeak Calvary Chapel with my team and we’re going to be bringing faith that speaks to you. And if you’re anywhere near where I’m going to be at Godspeak Calvary chapel this weekend, can I just encourage you guys to come on out? Our family flies down tomorrow.
This is a huge family affair for us and we are thrilled because my good friend Kathy Barnett is going to be flying in all the way from Pennsylvania to give you guys a word of encouragement. But the whole point in doing this is to equip you (a) to get off the bench and onto the battlefield and (b) to help you see that you are who God says you are. And I think so often in the culture today we have forgotten and the enemy likes to lie to us. He wants us to believe that we make a mistake in our past and therefore we have no room to disciple or mentor anybody.
If you’re listening to this right now and you have had an abortion, the enemy wants to silence you into speaking about it. He wants to keep you from finding the hope and the freedom and the forgiveness that God offers you. And beyond that, he wants to keep you sidelined. And so I don’t want you to be sidelined. I want you guys to be frontlined. You should write that down. Let’s not be sidelined. Let’s be frontlined. I think a new T-shirt might be in my future because you are who God says you are. You are. You belong, men and women, to the Lord of heaven’s armies.
And I think sometimes it’s easy for us to be sidelined by our past mistakes and we can learn an awful lot from just diving into the Word of God. And so I read through God’s word every year. I’m in the process of reading through it again. I’m also doing a scripture writing challenge. If you guys haven’t joined me over at MomStrong International. Today is Wednesday. Every Wednesday I teach live over at our Facebook group for those who are members of the Bible study there, and we’re talking what it means to walk with the Lord in the culture today.
And how can we be defined by mercy and how can we be defined by the grace that we have experienced as men and women who know the Lord and walk with Him? And so if you’re anywhere near Los Angeles in Thousand Oaks, we’ve had people flying in for these events from all over the country. You guys are going to love it. You’re going to come and you’re going to get my brand new T-shirt. It comes with your registration called let the redeemed of the Lord say so. And we’re going to spend Friday night and Saturday teaching you who that you are who God says you are and you’re going to find a space, I think, in your life to allow the Lord to work in a way that maybe he’s never worked before.
So coming out for Faith That Speaks. You guys are going to be so glad that you came. We cannot wait to see you. I have been working my way through a book I’m writing. So I’m writing a 365 day devotional for mothers right now. And I think I’ve told you guys before, I’ve been working on this for a while and I keep having to sort of take breaks from it because it’s hard for me to write and travel and that’s just the truth. I just can’t get on and off of airplanes and write with any kind of cohesive message at all.
And so I’ve been writing like little bits and pieces and then when I get time, like I’m not traveling in the month of April because my daughter Savannah is going to have, our little granddaughter is going to be born. So we’re super excited. Juniper is going to join our family in just a couple of weeks. Savannah is going to be at Faith That Speaks with me, by the way. We’re leaving tomorrow. Really excited about that and you guys will get a chance to meet her. She looks so cute. One of the cutest pregnant women ever to grace this planet.
And so I’m taking the month of April off to spend some time with her and just sort of be available when Juniper is born. And it’s also the month that I will spend doing a ton of writing because I’m not going to be on an airplane. And I’ve been getting ready to write. Every day I do a little bit of writing, but I haven’t done, I have to go back in and sort of fill in, I guess put meat on the bone. So everyday I do bones of what I’m going to write on from my personal time in the Word, which a lot of you guys are following along with me at MomStrong International.
So we do that through the Scripture Writing Challenge and then we do it through the Bible study. But I was reading the other day in Psalm 27 and I thought this might encourage you. Psalm 27:11 says, “Teach me how to live, O Lord, lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.” Now I love this because the Psalmist David is humble before the Lord. Did you guys know that walking with alert requires humility? Actually, parenting requires humility. Marriage requires humility. Being successful in the workplace requires humility.
And David is demonstrating what that humility looks like when he says, teach me how to live. Teach me how to live, O Lord, lead me along the right path. Well, when he says, lead me along the right path, he is inferring that there is a wrong path. And in the culture today, I am so invested in this idea of Christians being teachable, of Christians saying, you know what, we actually don’t know all the answers. Because when we do that, when we go back to the Lord and we say, Lord, we don’t know all the answers, show us how to live, The Bible says that God will do it.
That He will teach us how to live. He is going to give us the answers to the questions that we’re facing in the culture. Every week, you guys send me questions here at the podcast and there are literally hundreds of them in the queue at Mailbox Monday and I’m going to answer one of your questions today. But the reason I’m starting with this is because I believe with all my heart in The Bible. I believe that what God says in His Word is true and if the Psalmist David can say, teach me how to live, Lord, lead me along the right path for my enemies are waiting for me, he’s recognizing we can’t do this without the Lord.
We can’t make wise and right decisions without the Lord. We’re going to struggle in our parenting apart from the Lord, and he’s recognizing he’s got enemies and you guys have enemies. People that are waiting for you to trip up on social media. They’re waiting for you to say the wrong thing to your children or to your husband. You have an adversary and his name is Satan. And so I think we focus so much as parents on being teachers of our children, which we are, but the Bible tells us that even as adults, we need a teacher too.
Mom and dad, you need a teacher too. And your teacher, first and foremost for those of you who know the Lord, is the Holy spirit. So I hope that that’s our prayer today. Lord, teach us how to live. Lead us along the right path for our enemies are waiting for us and so our eyes are aware of what’s happening on the battlefield. We’re looking around and we’re seeing that there are snares and traps and there are opportunities for the adversary to come into our life. Maybe the enemy that’s waiting for you is waiting on your laptop computer.
Maybe your adversary is waiting in your refrigerator because you’re having a hard time with self control and it’s keeping you from living life to the full. And so Father, teach us how to live. And I want to just encourage you because there are so many things in the culture right now that are happening that will require us (a) come before the Lord in prayer. Lord, help us to be aware of our surroundings, lead us in the path that we should go, teach us what that looks like. A lot of times we were just going to learn from our mistakes.
And then the Psalmist in Psalm 27:14 goes on to say, wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. And then again, he says, yes, wait patiently for the Lord. So some of you guys are facing very difficult circumstances right now. You’ve got difficult things going on in your marriage as you are struggling with the education of your children. I’m getting letters from you every single week that you’re listening to what I’m talking about here at the podcast and you’re going, oh my word, I can’t keep my kids in a public school anymore.
And so you’re taking them out of school. And then you write me back three weeks later and you say, I don’t know what to do. I just took my children out of school. Well, here’s where you start, be patient. Wait for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. You can lean into the fact that you know you made the right decision in shepherding your children. And so what’s going to happen after that? God’s going to show you what to do. So be brave and courageous and parenting requires a certain amount of bravery and a whole lot of courage.
Parenting requires courage. It is an absolute requirement in the culture today. And so I’m going to read a letter to you, but I just want to encourage you that if you’re struggling, if you’re just like, oh my word, my kids are asking hard questions. I didn’t see that coming. I feel blindsided by whatever it is in the culture. We can feel blindsided by a myriad of things and the Lord of heaven’s armies is saying, I will give you exactly what you need when you need it, not a moment before. I am the Lord of heaven’s armies.
I’m going to do it. And then trust that God will do it. So the letter comes today from a sweet mama who called herself a happy homeschooling mom facing some big questions from her teens. So, Hey, sweet mom, I’d just like to say you’re not alone. Lots of happy homeschool moms are facing big questions from their teens right now. But she had a particular way to address it. And she said,
“Dear Heidi, how honest would you be with your 15-year-old daughter about your past if it was less than stellar? My husband and I both engaged in premarital sex with one another and with other people before that. We both wished that we hadn’t and have suffered emotionally and relationally because of our mistakes. Our 15-year-old asks tons of questions and I told her that our pasts are not something I will share at this point because I don’t want her seeking to mimic us. She very much copies our likes and dislikes and is always seeking our approval. She’s a great kid, but I want her to be her own person and not make our mistakes herself. I firmly believe that virginity or lack thereof doesn’t change a woman’s value, but it does affect how she sees herself and all of her relationships in a very real and meaningful way. Like I said, both of us wish we had only known one another as God intended. I won’t lie to my child, but I’m struggling with how much truth I should tell. Please help me navigate this difficult topic. The teenage years seem like the most difficult, yet I love each and every day I spend with my daughter.”
So precious mom, you’re not alone. I think most of us have not gotten to adulthood without regret. And one of the things that my husband and I are always telling our own children is that one of our primary goals in shepherding and parenting them is to help them get to adulthood with as little regret as possible. And one of the ways that we do that with our own children is that we’re honest with them. And if your child is 15-years-old, she’s ready to hear about the mistakes that you made. And you can tell her that without diving into hardcore details.
And then also I want to encourage you away from a place of fear because it sounds to me like you’ve been training your daughter in righteousness. And so I want to encourage you away from a place of fear to a place of faith in trusting that you can tell your daughter that you’d made mistakes without her walking away from the Lord or mimicking you. The Bible says in Luke 6:40 that when a student is fully trained, he’ll be like his teacher. It’s a verse I quote over and over here at the podcast, and it sounds to me like you’re training your daughter in righteousness.
And every single one of us has made mistakes. We all have things in our past that we’re less than proud of. So the question is, should we tell our kids about our past? So I found an article at Family Life Today, which I love these guys. In fact, I just had an opportunity to talk with my friend Bob Lepine when I was in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. Just so loved the ministry there. And I want you to listen to what they said because I thought it was great.
One weekend at church, a husband and wife shared a vulnerable story of how the husband cheated on his wife for years. When the wife found out the devastating news, she felt called by God to stay in the marriage and pray for her husband’s repentance. She prayed for years with no restoration in sight. That’s when their daughters, also heartbroken because of their father’s actions, began to pray. This family needed God to create purity inside of a marriage that seemed broken beyond repair. This family was in the audience to tell their story. Thankfully, this meant the husband realized what he was doing was wrong and repented from his actions with a desire to be restored to his family.
Now I realize not every story of adultery ends like this. I remember the painful decision my stepfather made to leave our family when I was in the eighth grade. And while not every story ends with a happy one, our communities are full of imperfect people making devastatingly painful mistakes, but not choosing to be defined by them.
And I would say that you guys fall into that category. You made devastating and a painful mistake in your past, but it sounds to me like you chose to walk in freedom and not to let it define you.
And you have raised some wonderful kids who are walking with the Lord. And so mistakes can label us, we can feel pain from them, but your kids need to hear how you have overcome it. Your kids are not ever going to get tired of hearing you talk about how God has made you new. So I believe your past failures, your losses, these things do not define you. And I would tell your daughter, you know what, one of the reasons your dad and I have been telling you to be faithful to what God says in His word and not to have sex before marriage is because we did not do that.
We did not honor the Lord. We did have sex before we were married and it hurt us terribly. Tell the truth. Tell the truth. One of the things I love so much about the Lord in The Bible and we can totally see God’s heart. In Mark 10:51-52, I love how straightforward the Lord is. Jesus is encountering a blind man and it’s a wonderful story. I don’t have time to go into it right now. But at one point he has an opportunity to speak to him and Jesus says, what do you want me to do for you? Just a very straightforward question.
What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked. My rabbi, my teacher, the blind man said, I want to see. And Jesus said to him, go, for your faith has healed you. Instantly the man could see and he followed Jesus down the road. It can be really easy, I think, for us to think that flowery words or sort of manipulative speech is what’s required, especially when we’re talking to our children about past mistakes. But I want to encourage you to follow the example of Jesus. Give your children straight forward answers.
Our children are learning an awful lot about how to talk to their own friends and how to interact with the culture around them by the way that we interact with them. And I think we learn how to interact by watching the example of Jesus. And he was very straightforward. He knew this guy was blind and he asked him a question, what do you want me to do? Well, Jesus already knew. And I love the bold response of the man who said, I want to see. So he gave a bold answer to the Lord. And I would encourage you today to give a bold answer to your child.
You can tell her I made mistakes in my past and you can even say we’ve been afraid to say anything to you because we’re afraid that you would do what we did. But we can see that that’s not who you are. And so I think we do need to tell our kids about our past. I think our kids, they need to see present day examples of us becoming better people than we were the day before. And this models to them that when they make mistakes, they don’t need to be defined by their mistakes. And they need to see that you’re not living in fear.
So when we live out of our old fears and our old mistakes and our old suffering and even our old sins, the enemy can use it to cause us to be stuck. But the victim can become victorious. We can all learn new habits. Marriages can be restored, fathers can be reconciled to their families. We can come out of sexual sin in our past into a place of victory. You guys are for me. I’ve had dozens and dozens and dozens of guests on the show who were not defined by homosexuality. They weren’t defined by their past abortion.
They left that life behind and they said, I’m going to follow Jesus. And so no matter what painful choices you’ve made in your past, no matter what’s been done to you, it’s never too late. It is never too late to turn around, to repent. And you guys have done that. Every one of us needs a fresh start. So you can choose a path that’s a fresh start for yourself, but also for your children who are going to follow you in it, and then speak the truth and speak life to your children and your kids, I promise you, are going to thank you for it.
They really will. So don’t be afraid, walk in freedom. God has freedom for you. He’s forgiven you. So tell your children about your past mistakes, not from a place of failure, but from a place of faith.
So I hope you guys have been encouraged today. I want to remind you again, join me at MomStrong International. You guys, it’s $8 a month to join the Bible study there and your $8 a month goes a whole long way to helping us hire the people that transcribe this podcast, the people that get it onto the air.
It helps us pay for bandwidth and for hosting and all the things that we pay for every single month to get the podcast to you. Not only do you help us, but we’re going to help you by teaching you how to be a studier and a woman of the Word. So check it out momstronginternational.com, and I am looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of you at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, California on Friday night. Check it out. It’s not too late to get tickets, heidistjohn.com/events. Thanks for listening, everybody.
We love you guys. We’re praying for you. Get off the bench and onto the battlefield and I’ll see you back here on Friday.
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Heidi St. John
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