How I Got Over My Very Public Mistakes

Last week, I was amazed at all the people who read my posts and left comments. (This post about expecting a call from the President got almost 2,800 comments and was shared 131,000 times on this site alone… And, no, my phone didn’t ring.)

Most of the comments were wonderful and supportive. (I’ve addressed some of the not-so-nice comments here.)  But there’s one constant criticism I didn’t talk about:  some of you insist on calling me a hypocrite. After all, I became a mother before I walked down the aisle – how can I talk about waiting until marriage for sex?

I find it strange that the culture rightfully applauds former drug addicts who warn children of the dangers of drug use. They are happy to listen to former alcoholics talk about how they finally are living a clean life. But when it comes to me talking about waiting until marriage for sex, it’s almost like people want me to slink away in shame… unable to show my face in public again because of my past mistakes.

I want this blog to be a place where we can all be honest, so let me start. I’ve struggled with feelings of guilt and shame. I know (judging from my inbox) many of you have too. A Christian counselor named Ed Welch helpfully writes about what to do after you’ve made a huge mistake:

It feels so right – so spiritual – to live with regrets. It means you feel bad for the wrong things you have done or think you have done, and that sounds like a good thing. If you forget those wrongs, you are acting like they were no big deal.

We live with regrets because we think we should. We think it’s the right thing to do—that it is our duty before God. But…
The Kingdom of Heaven is regret-free. The truth is that the triune God liberates us from past regrets. His will is being done. Bank on it. Neither your human limitations nor your sins hinder the good plans of your sovereign Father.
Let’s go one important step further. It is God’s will that you jettison past regrets.

So what does that mean?


Stop living under a cloud of guilt, stop wondering what life could have been like had you made better decisions, and stop beating yourself up over that thing you’ve done.

Read the rest of his post here, and get over the regret you’ve been carrying for far too long.

I have.


  • Deborah

    There is complete healing in God’s grace and mercy. The word of God is full of people that made mistakes repented and then GOT UP and went forth. You can’t move ahead when you’re always looking back. It’s a choice to receive HIS forgiveness and be set free to live the life He has planned for you.

  • Michelle

    a friend and I had this discussion yesterday…does the guilt ever go away? It doesnt, but eventually you kinda find a place for it. Thanks for this blog Bristol. It is beautiful.

    • Emma Lora

      Reminders of our weakness/mistakes is humbling and HUMBLE is good. Humble and guilt are not the same. Jesus took our guilt and left a humble, teachable and grateful heart. It is all about what God can/will do for us. We can go forward w/ enthusiam and confidence in that, regardless of our mistakes.

  • Laurie

    Once again- good job. Ed is right- don’t live with regrets. Love your life, and all that God has planned for you. Keep on keeping on!!

  • Debbie Bowman

    Good point! I think about what might have been if I had followed the path of what my family wanted me to do in 1973…..sure my life would have been so differant without the stuff that went on during my daughters’ growing up years, things we had to endure because of her drug use , running away, dealing with drug rehab and then the ultimate her running away again at the age of 17 when her grandfather was asking for her on his deathbed….You bet it would have been differant………….would I change a thing? Sometimes I wonder……….but I agree living with regrets is stupid. Hey in there!

  • Julie Balcom

    Bristol, I hope you take all of the positive comment and feel loved and empowered. I take forever to read books, but I read yours in 2 days! I admire your strength. You have a lot of people on your side regardless of the past. We love you through it!

  • Brett&Kyle’sMom

    Someone once told me that the best psychiatrists are the ones who were once the patient on the couch. Following that reason, who better to talk to young people about what can happen when you are in a hurry to engage in adult behaviors. Yours was an extreme situation- most of us don’t have a mom in the spotlight and have the whole world knowing our most private business- but it qualified you to be one to pass along your experiences in hopes of helping others avoid that kind of pain, frustration and humiliation. My mother found herself in that situation- minus the fishbowl- but never really moved past that event. To this day she is still in many ways socially and emotionally 16, pregnant and stuck. I was the product of that event, the only one who could not be held accountable but still was made to carry the burden. PLEASE get your voice out there Bristol! If my mother had had someone like you to help her, things would have been very different….for both of us. Oh, and thanks for your blog- keep it coming!

  • Tim Curtin

    I believe there are far more of those that understand and agree with you than those that do not.
    It is an unfortunate trait of human nature that we are far more motivated by a desire to spread negative thoughts and criticize that with which we disagree than to promote uplifting thoughts and that with which we agree.
    IMHO, that’s why your critics are expending so much hot air (with the help of the media) to try and belittle your efforts to use your life experiences to move forward in a positive way. They cannot see the proverbial forest for the trees.
    But you likely already know that, what with the vicious way you and your family have been treated by so many since your mother was thrust into the national spotlight nearly four years ago.
    We’ve got your back.
    You’re doing fine.
    Keep it up.
    Tim, Jamie, Andy, Emily, Jonathan and Robert Curtin

  • darla bulthuis

    You have a voice. Keep up the good work. You are on the right track. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Brittany

    I really needed this today…thank you!

  • Christopher

    There’s a quote by Oscar Wilde that really helps me live with my past mistakes. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”

    Bristol, I’ve followed you for quite some time on Facebook because I admire you for many reasons. I truly hope you never let those who call you a hypocrite get under your skin. Who better to help an alcoholic than a recovering alcoholic? Who better to help a drug addict than one who has shaken the habit? Who better to help a sinner than one who has committed those sins and found redemption?

    You should be admired and praised for your actions. Of course you will never regret the end result of your pregnancy, that beautiful child you hold in your arms. But you are the perfect spokesperson for abstinence, and I applaud you for doing so.

    I suppose those who call you a hypocrite would rather their children be taught by “virgin prudes” who have no idea what they are talking about. The kids are smart, they know when someone is talking out their … well, you know.

    God bless you and your family, and thank you for standing up to ignorance!