When Your Old Beliefs Must Change to Grow

Morning friend,

I’m back from my July break refreshed and recharged. I have a renewed sense of God’s desire for us as women, to help one another heal, grow, and thrive even in a scary uncertain world. It’s time to leave behind some of our old ways of thinking and being so that we can fully mature. Paul says when I was a child I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I learned to think in new ways (1 Corinthians 13:11). This is a journey for us. To leave behind the beliefs or ideas or ways we thought were right and continue to press on renewing our minds with God’s word and his truth. 

I’ll be doing a free webinar in August on the 4 Beliefs that Christian women have that keep them feeling helpless, scared, and stuck in destructive marriages. To register, please sign up here

This week’s question: In your blog listing “10 Lies that will Mess Up Your Life” you stated the first lie is Life is Not Fair. Can you explain that more, please?

Scripture says you reap what you sow. I don't understand this. I sowed love and kindness; teaching God's word to my children. My daughter ends up struggling with depression, promiscuity, addicted to substances, and in rehab. Why?

My girlfriend raised her kids the same and her daughters are doing well. It can make me sad, angry, and jealous. I want to scream, “It's not fair!” But, if I tell myself that life is not fair, then what am I to do with that scripture??? I DIDN'T reap what I sowed, so the Bible must be lying. How am I misunderstanding this passage?

Answer: I'm sorry you’re experiencing disappointment and pain with your daughter’s choices. Most of us do the best we know how to teach and show our children love and the wisdom of God’s path for life. Yet, they still may make poor choices. 

First, God knows exactly how you feel. When Adam and Eve sinned, he grieved over their choice to go their own way. He lamented when the Israelites refused to follow him and worshiped other Gods. God is perfect. Yet his children rebelled and went their own way. In Deuteronomy, Moses lays out two choices before the Jews enter the Promised Land, inviting and reminding them that God says, Choose Life (Deuteronomy 30:19).

You sowed good things into your daughter. Those good things are still there, but your daughter also has her choice to listen or not listen, to obey, or not obey. [Tweet “That’s not your responsibility or your fault even though it grieves you.”]

Second, it’s important to remember that God is your heavenly father. He does not lie. There is no shifting shadow in him. The Bible says that God is love and light and there is no darkness in him at all (1 John 1:5). So, therefore, your conclusion that the Bible has lied to you about sowing and reaping cannot be accurate. Please allow me to propose another way of looking at this passage on sowing and reaping.

It seems as if you have used this passage as a guarantee that if you plant something, for example, corn, you are guaranteed by God to always reap a beautiful harvest of corn. But I don’t think that’s what this passage says. Nor does this interpretation align with other things that the Bible teaches. Jesus teaches us that in this world, we will have trouble (John 16:33). In other words, Jesus says life will not be easy or fair.

Is it fair that you were born in the United States and others were born in a third-world country with fewer resources? Is it fair that one mother gives birth to a child who is gifted with athletic talent or intellectual ability while another is born with illness or lifelong disabilities, even though both took good prenatal care of themselves?

When the apostle Paul writes, “we reap what we sow”, (Galatians 6:7) he is using a farming metaphor to illustrate the natural law of consequences. If you plant weeds he says, don’t expect corn. Paul says, don't be shocked or disappointed when you live a reckless life you experience negative consequences such as poor health, bad relationships, and/or money problems. That’s what happens when you sow weeds in your life. Proverbs 5:11 says something similar.

Using this same farming metaphor, if you plant corn seed that doesn’t always guarantee that you will reap an abundant crop of corn. Why? The outcome of farming (good crops) doesn’t just depend on you. You can diligently plant your seed but other things can get in the way. There can be a drought or flood. There might be a fire. There could be pests that eat up all the seeds or corn. Then you have no crop or a less abundant one through no fault of your own.

[Tweet “We are responsible for stewarding our own life by our choices and we are not responsible for stewarding anyone else’s life, including our children once grown.”] You parented your daughter with godly values. Right now she does not embrace those values. She’s sowing life-sucking weeds into her life story. As she begins to live through the painful consequences of those weeds, pray that she will wake up to what she is doing and repent.

God desires us all to repent from our waywardness even as he is a perfect father. Please do not blame yourself for your daughter’s choices. But also please don’t blame God. His word is true. Life is not fair. Sin is real and sin corrupts. Jesus warns us that we have a real enemy who wants to ruin our life. He does it primarily through lies (John 8:44). His first lie to Eve was the same one that he’s tempting you with. “God is not good” (See Genesis 3:1-5). Eve believed Satan’s lie instead of listening to God and ate the forbidden fruit and Adam followed and life changed for everyone.

Your daughter is far from God right now, but it sounds like you too might be far from God because of your disappointment and anger. I encourage you to run back home to your heavenly father and continue to be an example of truth and love to your daughter so that when she is sick of sin, she knows where to find the truth that will set her free.

Friend, when your life story didn’t turn out the way you thought it would or was “taught” it would if you just believed a certain way, how did you deal with that disappointment, hurt, and confusion?


  1. Sue on August 4, 2022 at 9:32 am

    I just read, WHEN OLD BELIEFS MUST CHANGE TO GROW”. I agree with what you did write, but I am wondering if that fully answers the question asked? The description of the daughter reminds me of things I have read that describe bipolar illness. I guess what I am getting at is, the daughter might have something that is a mental illness that a mother can not control by raising a daughter with love and kindness. How does genetics play into this question? I suppose there can be other reasons for the daughter to have these issues, but that wasn’t what popped into my mind when reading the blog post. Thank you for your answer.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 8, 2022 at 5:35 pm

      Sue, the mother blamed God that her daughter did not turn out well because she “sowed” good things into her. There might be many reasons why the daughter is not living well. Bipolar or mental illness may be one, and sin and personal choices through worldly influences could be another. But the real question is why did not the sowing and reaping promises work for her life. And that was what I answered, not necessarily what is wrong with her daughter – although you could be right, her daughter may have bipolar or some other mental health issues.

  2. Diane on August 4, 2022 at 11:04 am

    When my husband of 20 years left I thought my world had ended. Weeks before he left I found Leslie’s book on an emotionally destructive marriage and was so grateful to finally be able to put a “name” to our marital issue. God gave me the courage to get the help I needed for myself. With the help of Leslie, a therapist, a program for my childhood issue and now a program for my marital issue I was able to heal and with God’s grace, create a new life for myself and my children. My road was not easy, yet God was with me every step of the way. For me I turned my life around when I literally got down on my knees and asked God to guide me. I prayed daily to know His will for me and the courage to follow His plan for my life. I learned to surrender to Him, not easy at first, now it’s a daily practice. My children are still hurt by their father leaving us and I have had and still do have many struggles with them. My daughter lives in fantasy and denial and my son is so angry with me, if I look at him the wrong way he yells at me. I pray daily and I surrender them to God, their perfect father. I continue to go to church, my children now 15 and 18 years of age no longer come to mass with me. However, I still keep praying at meal time, I go to mass regularly, I speak of God often with them, and I let them know when things work out in their favor, it’s because they have a mother who prays for them. I also remind myself they are not all bad and I focus and praise when they make good choices, no matter how small. I tell them daily I love them. In order to live in my home I set clear rules and boundaries with them and when they don’t listen to my rules or boundaries I discipline as needed. When I get overwhelmed and I often do, I literally have a conversation with God as if He’s in the room with me, and I pour out my heart to Him. I tell Him all my concerns, fears and troubles. I cry with Him, I laugh with Him, I thank him daily sometimes several times a day for my circumstances for they brought me closer to Him. I am open to growth and instruction, thank you Leslie! I now live in truth and reality, thank you Leslie! If we question God or begin to have anger with Him than the evil one wins. He’s already got a hold on your child as he does mine, don’t let him get you too. The evil one thrives on anger, God thrives in Love. As my mother would say to us when we were teenagers every time we left to go to school or work or wherever, “Go with God”, and we would reply, “Stay with God.” He is the truth, the way and the life.

  3. Deb on August 4, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    I think we need to have a long term perspective on this verse and this concept. I believe God is saying that what you sow in your earthly life, you will reap in your eternal life. That’s why we shouldn’t give up. He has promised we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up. God is looking for faithful followers who sow good works as a result of faith. Those things will bring eternal rewards, chiefly, eternal life. I understand the heartbreak of your children not following God’s ways and for a long time I felt responsible for my own children’s choices. But God holds each person responsible for their choices. I’m thankful He is a God full of compassion, slow to anger, giving all the chance to repent and turn to Him. That is why Jesus told us to be the salt and light so that others will see what we have and want it. Find your joy in the Lord, friend, while praying without ceasing for your children and showing them God’s love through all you say and do.

  4. Katie on August 4, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    Has the daughter met with a psychiatrist (not a family practice doctor) to rule out bipolar disorder? Sometimes bipolar is diagnosed as depression until a manic or hypomanic episode occurs and the doctor gets a fuller picture of what is going on. Speaking from experience.
    But this still goes with the first lie that life should be fair. Why did bipolar disorder strike our family? That isn’t fair. It isn’t fair how hard the person with bipolar disorder has to work to live a good life.
    Leslie, thank you for taking on these lies! The Truth will set us free.

  5. Lisa on August 4, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    I understand the heartache of having a child stray from godly teaching. The devil makes things seem bleak, but God has given me peace, knowing that I did my best. I always remember that God says His Word will not return void, so I keep trusting that the prodigal will return to God.

  6. Debi on August 4, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    My relationships with my children I thought was loving but once my son died in a car accident a year ago my daughter started telling me some things I did that made me cringe. What kind of loving mother would do those things??? I apologized but she doesn’t talk to us or have anything to do with us. When she graduated from Community College she didn’t tell us my husband found out through social media. My friends kept telling me how proud I must be! She is married to a wonderful boy. I pray they will have a much better marriage than their parents. But I HURT soo bad. I am in counseling for the loss of my son & our destructive marriage. Some days I feel as if I am in a deep pit with water rushing overhead, to paraphrase Jeremiah…I feel like I should just suck it up & go on most days. And normally I do. Until something like this forces me to think. I tried to be a good Christian mom and failed!!! At least this woman was a good mom.

    • Autumn on August 5, 2022 at 10:38 pm

      Deb, your daughter would renew her relationship with you if you left your destructive marriage. She is trying to avoid the toxicity you inadvertently spew upon her life. She put up boundaries so she can detox and grow stronger. Good for her. Now it is your chance to grow too. Keep up your trauma counseling , tell he the truth, get out of denial, in time she will trust you. Change her world. Go zero contact with your abuser.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 8, 2022 at 5:30 pm

      Debi, You may have failed in some ways as a mom, I don’t know any mom who would say she feels 100% great about everything she did. But I wonder if you have forgotten or minimized the good things that you did do? I’m glad you are getting help to process your grief with both losing your son and now your daughter’s withdrawal. But remember, God isn’t finished writing her story or yours. You continue to do your work and pray she does hers so that one day you can have a conversation that brings healing and restoration to you both.

    • Ruth on August 17, 2022 at 8:33 pm

      I am so sorry for the loss of your son. How heartbreaking!!
      I hear your sadness about your daughter but It is fairly common for children to go no contact with their parents if they grew up in a dysfunctional home. But… that doesn’t mean it has to end this way. Respect your grown daughter’s wishes for space. If she does reach out to you or you run into her, don’t play the victim role trying to guilt her bc she’s hurting you and you’re the worst mom in the whole world kind of conversation. She is not responsible for your happiness. I say this with no malice. But I know that in certain cultures children are pressured to please their parents to a ridiculous level 😳.

      A very, very toxic dynamic like this played out in my extended family. It took about 5 years but the estranged daughter slowly reconnected with the mother. (Background- abusive, addict dad and fearful codependent mom with one highly targeted daughter for abuse 😭)
      Mom if do your own soul searching and healing ❤️‍🩹, then relationship restoration might be possible. In the meanwhile, dig into God’s grace. I have made so many mistakes. Giving myself grace is hard; it sounds like a struggle for you also. Big hugs sweet mother. Don’t give up ❤️

  7. Ruth on August 5, 2022 at 12:15 pm

    I used to go to a Word of Faith church. Initially, I was drawn to churches like these bc I loved the enthusiastic worship. But eventually I had to grapple with their interpretation of scripture. I came to see that there are many Biblical principles that work in general like reaping and sowing. In a Word of Faith church, that is seen as a 100% guaranteed promise. But we all know people who were good, kind, and generous who get a rare disease or their child is killed. Paul told the Colossians- Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. 3:23 God sees faithfulness and will reward it how He sees best even if it’s not til heaven.
    The person who wrote the question to the blog did not give very much info about why her daughter has left the church. I might assume if the mom writing is a reader of this blog that there may have been some dysfunction for this daughter when she was growing up. Possibly? Many moms think they are shielding their children from their husband’s anger and abuse. But kids are very sensitive to the emotional atmosphere of the home ☹️.
    Children who see a father who goes to church yet behaves abusively at home are almost bound to struggle with their faith. In the young person’s mind, if the power of the gospel wasn’t enough to change my dad from from being an abuser, then why should I bother with it? Is it impotent? Is it a fraud? Why didn’t God protect me? Why didn’t mom protect me? Was I not good enough? Was I not worth it? This young person is gonna have so much internal angst. ☹️
    Even if this mom’s marriage had zero bearing on this daughter’s decision to leave her faith, there are many influences from all directions that could have pulled her away.
    Social media has negatively impacted many young peoples’ ideas about the gospel.
    Jesus said in the last days the love of many will grow cold. Dear Mom who wrote this letter, maybe the best thing you can do is to be honest with God about your pain. Ask God to ignite your love for Him so that you won’t be one whose love grows cold. As you are filled more and more with His love, you will be able to intercede more effectively for your daughter.

  8. Alba on August 7, 2022 at 4:10 pm

    “Your daughter is far from God right now, but it sounds like you too might be far from God because of your disappointment and anger.”
    I would have to disagree with this statement because of Ps. 34:18.

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