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.


  • Pamela Sonnenmoser

    Awesome post Bristol. Truly there is hope and healing in Christ, but even more than that, our God is a God of restoration. Your convictions about premarital sexual relationships are part of that restoration. We all make mistakes, we have all sinned, we all live with the results of our choices. Your beautiful son is not a mistake, he is a perfect creation of God. He is evidence that God will take what the enemy of our souls means for evil and bring good from it. Your blog, book and activism are evidence of the same. Beyond politics, beyond publicity and far beyond the comments from people, good or bad, what matters is your relationship with our Lord. That relationship, leading to your convictions, your walk and your love of God is all that really matters in light of eternity. Keep up the good work. I may never know your family personally, but I have to tell you, I admire all things Palin. Not because it is a perfect family, but because you are honest and sincere, hard working and willing to be who you are, no matter who is looking or lurking. God bless you.

  • Robbi

    You are an amazing person. I became a teen mother the same time you did. When you say wait until marriage, you speak from experience and want others to make a different desicion. I don’t regret my daughter in any way, nor do I think you regret Tripp. I think you just want people to understand that not everyone is blessed with the opportunity you have and having a child so young can be detrimental to the child and parent. I’d much rather preach abstinence than abortion. I appreciate you, Bristol. You are genuine and deserve better treatment by others than what you’re given. I don’t know why people dislike or even hate you. All I can promise to you, is I will always speak kindly of you. By the way, I voted for you on DTWS! ;) Bless you and your family.

  • Rick Sachen

    Bristol, thank you so much for your comments on this matter. I was born of a high school girl in the 1940′s, when such things as dropping out of school to give birth and (heaven forbid!) keeping and raising the child were totally unheard of in our community. But, keep me she did, and raised me to be a relevant cog in society’s wheel with children of my own. Throughout her life she did whatever was needed to care for me, and keep me on the “straight and narrow,” but the one thing she was never able to do was bring herself to tell me anything about my father or the circumstances of my conception, and she spent her entire life carrying that guilt with her, even to closing it off from her own son. It is only after her death that I was able to find bits and pieces of the truth, and it pains me that she had to live with “that incident” weighing on her. People have changed, times have changed, and even the general morality of our nation has changed, but my mother was never able to benefit from the changes, and she carried the shame and an perceived infamy of my birth for all her time. Hopefully, your posts of this nature can alleviate such perceived feelings from others. Thank you, and your family… Again.

  • Maleena

    Bristol we are all sinners and have to ask for forgiveness everyday. I am so thankful that we have a forgiving God.

    You are so right. Who is better to talk of teen pregnancy and motherhood? Someone who can only talk talking points or someone who is actually living it? You are doing a great job. Keep up the goodwork.

    Keep your faith and God close all else will fall into place.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Way to go, Bristol. Ed Welch’s writing has helped me too. Forgiveness and redemption and Spirit empowered change are freely available to all of us because of what Christ has done. We don’t have to live perfectly because He did – and we are fully accepted based on Jesus perfection.

    You aren’t a hypocrite because you did something you don’t want others to do. You aren’t a hypocrite for seeking to be a good mom now.

    Hypocrisy says “it’s okay for me but not for you.” Repentance says, “I was wrong and I don’t want you to make the same mistake, but if you have, the same grace I’ve received is there for you too.” The hypocrite seeks to draw other people’s attention to his or her own “good life” as an example (when behind closed doors their life is as flawed as anyone’s – even doing the things they condemn). The ambassador says, “I’m just like you and I mess up all the time, but I have a Savior who is both able to understand my weaknesses because he experienced all the normal temptations I do and able to help me with them, because he never gave in.”

    • Troy Stephens

      Very nicely stated.

  • Lindsay C

    Wow, I totally agree with you. It’s amazing how our culture, especially the younger generations, play victim and like to point fingers at others without accepting their own faults. Everybody makes mistakes and lives with regrets. The burden can be too heavy to carry alone, so we need help. We need a Savior who can carry the burden for us. It’s not only about faith, but forgiveness of ourselves. Once weak does not mean always weak. I am proud of you Bristol, because you are so brave. You are an amazing role model for young women, because you took responsibility for your life at such a young age. Unfortunately, you had to live a trying time out in front of the media, but you did it, and you’re surviving. I think you’re a great example of Christ’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

    I’m so thankful I have your blog to look forward too! Thank you for your inspiration! :)

    P.S. I accidentally placed this message on Ed Welch’s post. Woops!

  • CindyLou

    Bristol, thank God in this country you had the choice to deal with your circumstances the way you did. Will you ever stand up for women who want the choice to use birth control or to decide what to do with their own lives and bodies?

  • Jeanie

    You know…you don’t have a monopoly on messing up and feeling guilty. :-) I came along before you. Ha! Same mistake. ;-( I can tell you that God does forgive and he does set your feet on the right track if you let him. All we have to do is listen to him and follow him. It’s too bad that those that talk about us don’t know the same God we know!!!
    We might have made a mistake but it’s what you do after the mistake that counts. Having an abortion would have been a further mistake. There is nothing wrong with having a child and raising that child to be a descent (above all odds) adult. My daughter graduated high school and college, married a great man, is a leader in City Government and volunteers her time working with teens at a local high school while being a mother to two of the most wonderful grandchildren alive. ;-) So…I would like anyone to argue that God can’t turn any mistake around.
    I am proud of you and your stand for young women and for the Lord. Better yet… your stand against the leaders of our nation that needs an education on how to deal with social issues…and a few other things ;-) But…we won’t go there. God Bless You!

  • Troy Stephens

    Bristol, I am so proud of your courage and the message that you’re communicating to people who have in the past or may in the future walk a similar road as you. I believe your family to be a true representation of what an American family is in all it’s imperfections, all it joys and overcoming of life’s bumpy roads and how to deal with regrets and triumphs. I believe that our families could become fast friends. I support you in you message, I admire you for taking it public, and I applaud you for your accomplishments. We’re praying for you and your family.

  • Sam Adams

    Very inspiring and good for you, Bristol. You know, the Bible’s most prominent characters were flawed & failed in big ways somewhere in their lives. And then along came perfection who preached what? Forgiveness. When I think of you, I think of the women who touched Christ in the Gospel and how he forgave them and then blessed them. It was their sin that brought them to him and it was their desire for change that earned His forgiveness. And that is a key point not always understood. Levi is a good-looking boy; not hard to imagine this event for you. And your son is an angel; expensive, but an angel. Hang in there and thanks for setting an example.