Today, I welcome guest blogger Collene of Rest and Chaos to share how she handles uncomfortable conversations about her past with her kids.
“That person is smoking,” my son announced, “and that’s bad.”
“You used to smoke, too, didn’t you Mommy?” my daughter questioned.
A wave of regret washed over my heart as I replied, “Yes, Mommy used to smoke but it never made her happy. The only thing that could make Mommy happy was Jesus.”
These kinds of awkward conversations happen often between my children and me. How I wish that I would have known as a teenager how much my choices would affect me for the rest of my life. How I would never forget those years of regret. And how someday my kids would ask about my past mistakes.
But even in these awkward situations there is hope.
You see, Satan would love to use my past regrets to drag me into a pit of shame and despair. But God desires to use my past for good. And one of the very ways God uses it for good is with my children.
To help them learn from my mistakes.
When Talking About Your Past Focus on the “Why”
When I talk with my children about my past they do not need to know the details behind my transgressions; what they need to know is the “why” behind my scandalous choices.
They need to know I was hopelessly lost. That I was searching for love, happiness, and purpose in all the wrong places.
They need to know that the devil preys on our desires and weaknesses. That he uses our longings to entice us to fulfill those yearnings outside of God’s plan for our life. They need to know the devil will convince them to try anything but God to fill their life with joy, meaning, and fun.
But it will never work.
Because the truth is their Creator designed them for communion with Him. He created them with a god-shaped hole inside their heart that only He can fill.
God’s Grace is Big Enough to Cover Our Past
Another way God can use my past for good is to show my kids that God’s grace is big enough to cover up any mistake.
When I share with my kids about my past, I want them to see that no matter what I did, God never gave up on me. I want them to see that when I was blinded by sin, Jesus stepped in and rescued me. That, despite all the mistakes I made, Jesus forgave me, healed my heart, and wrapped me up in His amazing love and grace.
Because the truth is no matter how much I pray for my kids, teach them, and use my past to inspire them to make better choices than I did . . . I know my kids are going to make mistakes in life.
And whether they mess up in new ways, or choose to repeat my past mistakes, I want them to know the One they can run to.
I want them to know they are dearly loved no matter what they have done.
“No past sins can bar our acceptance with him, if we humble ourselves before him, believing in him as the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” -Matthew Henry
Our Past Invites Others to Come and See
In the story of the woman by the well in John 4, a Samaritan woman goes to get water at noon. Most women went to get water in the early morning, and they went together as groups.
If she was going to get water during the heat of the day, it was most likely because she was avoiding everyone, due to the shame caused by her past– and present– behavior.
As she talks with Jesus, we find out she had been married five times and was now living with a man she was not married to. Her life appears to be filled with poor choices and regret.
But Jesus does not condemn her. Instead he offers to rescue her. He offers her living water and freedom from her life of sin through redemption in Him. While Jesus did expose her transgressions, He did so with such gentleness that she knew she was safe with Him.
And it changed her heart.
After her encounter with Jesus, this woman left her water jar beside the well and ran into town.
No longer was she bound by the shame and regret of her past. No longer did her fear of what others would think hold her back. She went from being a woman who hoped everyone would forget everything she ever did, to proclaiming to everyone that Jesus knew everything she ever did.
She ran into town and extended an invitation to the very people she had been avoiding:
“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could he possibly be the Messiah?”
Later, the Bible tells us, “Many Samaritans believed in Jesus because the woman had said, ‘He told me everything I ever did!’” (John 4:39)
Using Our Past to Help Our Kids Meet Jesus
The devil tried to keep the Samaritan woman isolated due to the indignity of her past. He wanted to keep her bound in her embarrassment and humiliation.
But Jesus wanted to set her free, so He redeemed her past, and then He used it to bring an entire town to a place where they could meet Jesus.
In the same way, the devil wants to use our past for evil.
But God wants to redeem it and use it for good.
So, when our kids ask about our past, we can smile at them and say:
“Come and see the God who knows everything I have ever done . . . and loves me anyway.”
Collene is a wife and mother of three. She spends her days caring for her home, working part time, and managing a chronic illness. In her spare time, she loves to encourage women to find rest in Jesus while facing the chaos of life. You can connect with her on her blog Rest and Chaos or over on Facebook or Instagram .