Recently, a friend called. She was a little stressed. Her son had begun asking difficult math questions. These weren’t your ordinary difficult math questions. She called me because she knew I could relate—like her, I also have an age discrepancy between my wedding date and my child’s birth. (Not to mention that my oldest daughter was my flower girl.) “How’d that happen, mom?” Maybe some of you are in the same boat. Are you dreading certain subjects that might be a little bit . . . ahem . . . awkward?

How do you teach your kids what is right when they cannot look to your childhood or young adulthood as an example? My friend was feeling a little anxious and was worried that her child might be shaken up over the news that his parents were not the picture-perfect model of purity and chastity.

It was a neat conversation. I have never thought of my past as being a “scary topic.” On the contrary, I truly believe that for those of us who were saved later in life, our past affords a great opportunity to personally illustrate the most incredible thing in the universe.

Since very early on, my husband and I have always tried to be completely real and transparent in front of our kids about who Christ is and how He came to save sinners. Sinners like us and sinners like them. Even when they were very young, I would take advantage of opportunities to let my kids know that my life was a slimy mess when I did not walk in obedience to God (and that it can still be a slimy mess when I don’t walk in obedience to God … but more on that later). And even still, when my children notice somebody who seems particularly wicked—a nasty, rebellious-looking teenager yelling at her parents, an immodestly dressed woman, the drunk man who makes a spectacle of himself in town, etc.—I let them know, “It looks like they may not know our Lord.” And I also let them know, “Kids, before I knew the Lord, my actions looked even uglier. There are a lot of things that God has saved me from. I am grateful for His mercy and grace.”

No, I don’t think that my past will be a stumbling block to my children. My past is an incredible testimony of the Truth of Christ, which transforms lives completely. If I am faithful, my past is an opportunity to live out a beautiful life of grace and love that has been born out of what used to be a miserable mess. The challenge is not the past, the challenge is the present. If we claim Christ today, what are our kids seeing in our lives here and now? I know from personal experience that if the mama acts like a nasty sea hag all day but instantly transforms into a smiling, sweet, sappy saint when the pastor’s wife suddenly rings up on the phone, a very loud character training message is being sent. If we claim Christ, we cannot be liars.

It is not just the outward, blatant sins that should have been “put away with the old man.” The nastiness of hypocritical, angry, dominating spirits—those sour, prideful sins are possibly even more ugly and destructive than the others. It’s in how we live now, while claiming Christ, that real damage can be done.

The homeschool community is an interesting one. It is growing by leaps and bounds, yet it still seems predominantly comprised of families that are Christian and Conservative. I wonder how (or if) these parents of first and second generation homeschoolers are hypocrite proofing the home. As much as I hate to admit it, it seems typical to find an air of arrogance and hypocrisy with these “above average Christian kids.” These kids know the statistics. They know they are outscoring their public school counterparts academically. When they meet strangers at the store, on an airplane, in the doctor’s office, or at church, they hear the same thing: “You seem so mature. You communicate so well. Most kids your age don’t have your kind of manners.” Etc., etc., etc.