Can I Give Up on Perfect? With Scarlet Hiltibidal [Episode 212]

Give Up Perfect Scarlet Hiltibidal

GIVEAWAY ALERT: You can win the book You’re the Worst Person in the World by this week’s podcast guest. Keep reading to find out how!

Do you feel like you have to be the best at everything? The best mom. The best wife. The best sandwich maker. Or even the best Christian.

Today’s guest, author Scarlet Hiltibidal, knows exactly what it’s like to constantly strive for perfection. For Scarlet, trying to be the best at pretty much everything was her life story.

But in the midst of all her striving, she continued to fall short, failing to experience the joy and freedom that’s supposed to come with the gospel’s good news. She wouldn’t accept her brokenness … that is until she realized something revolutionary:

Instead of the best, she might actually be the worst. The “chief of sinners,” poor in spirit, and gone astray. It was this realization that helped Scarlet give up on perfect and embrace grace instead.

She’s even written a book titled, You’re the Worst Person in the World: Why It’s the Best News Ever that You Don’t Have it Together, You Aren’t Enough, and You Can’t Fix It on Your Own.

This is the book we talk about today, and I know many of you need to hear Scarlet’s message … myself included!

We’re about to stare our less-than-perfect selves straight in the face and feel the weight of just how absurdly and glaringly off the mark we actually are! And then, we’ll get to experience the freedom of grace!

It’s time to stop trying to be perfect and start walking with the One who really is perfect. And as we do, we will be changed for the better.

Meet Scarlet

Scarlet Hiltibidal is the author of Afraid of All the Things, You’re the Worst Person in the World, and other books and Bible studies. She writes regularly for Parent Life Magazine and She Reads Truth. Scarlet has a degree in biblical counseling and taught elementary school before she started writing. She and her husband live in Southern California where she loves signing with her three daughters, eating nachos by herself, writing for her friends, and studying stand-up comedy with a passion that should be reserved for more important pursuits.

[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below. Then check out the links below for more helpful resources.]

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Episode Transcript

4:13 Podcast: Can I Give Up on Perfect? With Scarlet Hiltibidal [Episode 212]

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, before we start, we have got to practice her name. Okay?

K.C. Wright: Okay, yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: We're going to have a little session.

K.C. Wright: You got that right.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. Try it. I want to hear what --

K.C. Wright: Okay, let me just try. Hit-a-bidal. Hit-a-bidal.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hey, that's not bad.

K.C. Wright: Really?

Jennifer Rothschild: But I think it's Hiltibidal.

K.C. Wright: Oh. Oh, that's right, that's an L. I got a smudge on my glasses.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hiltibidal. Say it.

K.C. Wright: Hiltibidal. Hiltibidal.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hiltibidal.

K.C. Wright: Hiltibidal.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hilt. Abide. Uhl.

K.C. Wright: Oh, yeah! Hilt-Abidal.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, Hiltibidal.

K.C. Wright: Hitil- -- oh, good Lord.

Jennifer Rothschild: All right, let's go.

K.C. Wright: I'd like to buy a vowel. Hiltibidal. Okay, let's see if we mess this up. You know we will.

Jennifer Rothschild: I'll start.

K.C. Wright: Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: Do you feel the pressure to be the best at everything? The best mom, the best wife, the best sandwich maker, or the best Christian? Well, today's guest, Scarlet Hiltibidal, knows exactly how you feel. For Scarlet, trying to be the best at pretty much everything was her life story. But that all changed when she gave up on perfect and embraced grace instead. So we are about to stare our less-than-perfect selves right in the face and feel the weight of just how absurdly and glaringly off the mark we actually are. And then we will feel the freedom of grace. So it is time to stop trying to be perfect and start walking with the One who really is perfect. And as we do, we are going to be changed for the better. Sounds good, doesn't it? So let's get this going.

K.C. Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you and I up to live what we call the "I Can" life, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Now, welcome your host, Jennifer Rothschild.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, hello, our people. K.C. and I are having such a good time in the podcast closet today, and we are so glad you're here with us.

K.C. Wright: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: I'm Jennifer, here to help you be and do more than you feel capable of as you live the "I Can" life of Philippines 4:13. We say it almost every week, it is two friends, one topic --

Jennifer and K.C.: And zero stress.

Jennifer Rothschild: But K.C. and I've been stressing out over saying Scarlet's last name. Oh, my gosh. That is a hard last name. And you love people and you don't want to mess up their names.

K.C. Wright: Well, and just remember, at one time, you know, some minister stood up and said, "Would you please make welcome for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Hilt- --

Jennifer Rothschild: Hiltibidal.

K.C. Wright: -- -ibidal.

Jennifer Rothschild: I'm not making fun of her name.

K.C. Wright: No, we're not.

Jennifer Rothschild: We are making fun of the fact that we feel like doofuses because we can't seem to get it right.

K.C. Wright: Oh, goodness.

Jennifer Rothschild: But you know what? Scarlet and I actually talked about this, so she's cool with it. She just said, "Call me Scarlet H."

K.C. Wright: Oh, that was kind.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. I think that is very kind. And later, at the end of the podcast, we're going to take a love offering to get her name changed to Smith.

K.C. Wright: Start a GoFundMe.

Jennifer Rothschild: Anyway, speaking of funny names, I had a friend in college, and her dentist's last name was Molar.

K.C. Wright: Oh, wow.

Jennifer Rothschild: So she would go to get her teeth cleaned by Dr. Molar. So I'm thinking, well, that's pretty nifty. You know, there's just some professions where, you know, it fits. And so that was one.

K.C. Wright: I got one. When I was in junior high, I had safety goggles on. And I was flicking the backs of them so they would go up and down to try to make the girls laugh.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my gosh.

K.C. Wright: And my instructor, my teacher, said, "You think that's funny? I'll show you what's funny." And back then -- they don't do this anymore. -- but you went out into the hallway and you got swatted.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, yes.

K.C. Wright: Yeah. Well, the first person to ever give me a swat -- and the last, by the way -- I never got another swat -- this was junior high -- his name was Mr. Wackerman.

Jennifer Rothschild: See, it fit.

K.C. Wright: True story.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. So there you go. All right.

Now, I think we just need to -- we have proven one thing right here, that K.C. and I have definitely given up on perfect. We're just going for adequate. Mediocre's fine with us. Okay?

K.C. Wright: Yeah, right.

Jennifer Rothschild: But we are going to get to this conversation. You guys are going to love Scarlet. She is an absolute delight. So, K.C., why don't you introduce Scarlet H. for us.

K.C. Wright: I think we should pray first. Lord, help me pronounce this name. Amen.

Jennifer Rothschild: Amen.

K.C. Wright: Scarlet Hiltibidal is the author of "Afraid Of All The Things," "You're The Worst Person In The World," and other books and Bible studies. She writes for ParentLife Magazine and She Reads Truth. Scarlet has a degree in biblical counseling and taught elementary school before she started writing. She and her husband live in Southern California, where she loves signing with her three daughters, eating nachos by herself, writing for her friends, and studying stand-up comedy with a passion that probably should be reserved for more important pursuits.

Now, here's Scarlet and Jennifer.

Jennifer Rothschild: All right, Scarlet. So I know you've written some on anxiety. And I got to tell you, there's one thing -- there are several things that bring me anxiety, but one is trying to pronounce your last name.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Join the club. It's the whole world. It's -- yeah, it's not a good one.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know, right?

Okay, so help me out. Very slowly, how do we say your last name?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Don't worry about it, Jennifer. You can just say H, seriously.

Jennifer Rothschild: Really?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: There are so many I's and so many L's.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know. But I've been trying. You don't understand, I am very competitive and I want to practice.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: I want to hear how you did it.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. Hiltibidal.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: So close.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. So how do you do it?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Hiltibidal.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my gosh, that was not even close. You're very gracious.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: No, it is so -- I've heard, like, Hit-the-Bible, Hit-hill-ball, like -- no, that was very close. Hiltibidal is the correct pronunciation.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hiltibidal. Okay. But Hit-the-Bible's close. All right.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: You know, Hit-the-Bible would work with my profession.

Jennifer Rothschild: You are, you're hitting the Bible in the best sort of way. All right, sister. Okay. Well, thank you for clearing that up a little bit. We're going to call you Scarlet H., because you're right, that's just simpler.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Perfect.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. So, now, if I started off this conversation -- okay, listener, be prepared. If I started off this conversation by calling you, Scarlet, the worst person in the world, you won't be offended and you won't be freaked out. All right? So tell us why.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Well, that is the title of the book. Well, before I -- so my book coming out is called "You're The Worst Person In The World." This goes along with your joke because I dedicated it to my adoptive dad. And I showed him on my phone -- like, before it was printed a year ago or something, I was showing him that it was dedicated to him. And he looked up and he was like, "Scarlet, I don't know how I feel about having a book called 'You're The Worst Person In The World' dedicated to me." Yeah.

Anyway, wouldn't be offended because -- it's a long answer. You want me just to go into it?

Jennifer Rothschild: I do. I want to know. Because if someone titles a book "The Worst Person In The World," and you're clearly comfortable with being called that, we need to know why.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Yeah. Okay. Well, the reason is -- you know, I think of the Apostle Paul claiming himself as the chief of sinners. I'm going into the deep answer before I give you the shallow answer of how the book title came to be.

Jennifer Rothschild: Good.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: But basically, you know, I think that with Christianity -- or I know that with Christianity, you have to get to that point of identifying yourself as the worst person in the world to see your need for Jesus. We've got to get to that point. But I think I really -- I wrote this book for people who don't know that yet. But really, I was thinking a lot of people who lived like I did for so long, who embraced that in theory when they became a believer. So I became a believer at 14, and I was like, yes, for all have sinned and come short -- fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. Yes, the Gospel is true. I believe that God is holy and I'm a sinner and I needed Jesus to pay the price for my sin, like, I believe that, but I better do a good job now that I'm a Christian. It was like I switched over to this works-based religion as soon as I embraced the Gospel for my life.

And so I think that there's so much freedom and joy and peace in, one, remembering that we are the worst and in need of Jesus, but then letting that lead us to step two, which is this lifestyle of obedience and repentance, which is where we can experience the peace and joy of being forgiven. And so that's the reason -- the deeper reason behind the book.

The silly reason is my friend made a joke when my first book came out. My first book was called "Afraid Of All The Things," and it's lighthearted. The way I wrote it, I was trying -- I hoped that it is funny, and I was trying to convey that with the cover. And so I'm getting all these cover designs back from the designer, the publisher, and I showed them to my best friend, Katie, and I was like, "What do you think of this one?" And it was, like, dark red, and it had fangs and, like, a syringe on the cover, which I thought was really funny and, like, good -- which actually there are still fangs, and I believe there is still a syringe on the cover. But dark red, we did that with dark red. But anyway, I showed it to my friend, and she's like, "Scarlet, honestly, I know your book is funny. Dark red is a little scary with the fangs and everything, but I'm so excited it's your first book. Even if it was just a blank white cover and it just said, 'You're The Worst Person In The World,' I would still be so excited." And she's my best friend and she was trying to be supportive. But I laughed so hard imagining a Christian book with that title, a white book and it says, "You're The Worst Person In The World." And so, you know, usually the title doesn't come first, but in this case the title came first. And I thought, okay, I want that to be a book. And then I thought about it, and there you go.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, I love it because, honestly, it is theologically such foundation. It really is, as you just explained. So even though there is a kind of wink and nod and it's fun, it's still true that until we recognize that, we get it all backwards and we live a life of striving. And so in your book, I know you deal a lot with Jesus' teaching about being poor in spirit. Okay? So I would love for you to talk about, too, a little bit of how this teaching of Jesus about being poor in spirit, how did that transform some of your outlook, and maybe even your expectations, for yourself and all the people you love?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Yeah. Jennifer, the word you just used was story of my life: striving. Like, I was a striver all the way through. I -- just like I told you -- well, first of all, I had a very unusual, strange upbringing. I grew up daughter of an actress. We were always traveling.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, can you pause right there?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: Because I am a big SNL fan from back in the day, and I was wondering if you'd mentioned that. She's not just an actress, she's a comedic genius. Victoria Jackson --

Scarlet Hiltibidal: A comedic genius.

Jennifer Rothschild: -- is your mother.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: I grew up around comedians.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: She's my mother.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: And, you know, it's so funny, like -- so I have in my biography that I study stand-up comedy with a -- what is it? -- a passion that should be reserved for more important pursuits. I love stand-up. I love finding clean stand-up, which is hard to do.

Jennifer Rothschild: Right.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: But I love it. And I'm here in my later 30s now and I just now realized, like, oh, no wonder I like stand-up. Like, it's so funny that we just kind of grow up with how we were raised and we don't even see it. And, yeah, I love stand-up. It's like my one hobby is to watch stand-up. Anyway, yeah. So...

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. So, yeah, so move on. And then you said something about your stepdad. What did you say?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Well, my biological dad was a magician fire eater. My adoptive dad, who I call my dad, who I dedicated this book to, he was on the SWAT team. And so I just had this, like, crazy, colorful childhood. I was in the wings at comedy clubs hearing the non-clean opening acts, and then I was also being raised to believe that Jesus is the hope of the world. Like, my first week of life, I was in a Baptist church. And I think I'm just wired with a lot of nervous energy, and so I just kind of was interpreting everything I was seeing. And I was a striver, so that, of course, carried into my faith when I became a Christian. And when I owned it as my own when I was 14, you know, I got baptized and then I'm like, okay, I'm going to be the best Christian who's ever lived.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Yeah, opposite of foreign spirit.

And I would read about -- you know, here's how I read the Bible back then, Jennifer. I would open the Bible to the coffee mug verses, the verses I would see on a t-shirt such as "Casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." Because I was always anxious, I was always nervous, and I would just try to do that thing like, okay, let me try to obey that. And then, you know -- you can't see me, but I'd be like abstractly throwing my worries into the ceiling like, okay, God, I'm trying to obey this command, not even realizing that, one -- like, I had no idea that's in 1 Peter. What's the context? Who's write -- like, no clue. But also, that's the second half of a sentence. Verse 6 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he will exalt you, casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." So it wasn't until I was older and actually reading the Bible, studying it because I love it, because it's a gift, rather than, oh, I better read another verse today. It wasn't until I did that that I learned, like, oh, poor in spirit, it's about humility.

So in my book, I think I started my chapter "Worst Poor Person," talking about when I was a newlywed and we were so, so poor in stuff. You know, we lived in a place with rotting wood floors, and my stiletto high heel -- of course I wore stilettos., I was 22 and it was Miami, so that's what I wore -- it would get stuck in the wood and I would -- like, because it was rotting. And so I would just pull it out, keep walking, you know, just swat the roaches away. Like, it was just those living conditions. But I was like -- I would read, like, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," you know, in the gospels, and I'd be like, Wow, God, how sweet, because I'm so poor and I'm a Christian. So I got it. You know, it's like I -- that was kind of where my Christianity was, and I think that that is why I had so much trouble resting and experiencing the abundant life available to me, the joy and the peace. It wasn't until I read more and learned more and prayed more and obeyed more that I realized like, oh, okay, when you are faced with a Holy God, like Isaiah was in the throne room, Isaiah 6, like, that leads you to recognize your unholiness, you know? And it's only then when we are poised to be free and when we're poised to worship the one who's worthy, rather than striving to be worthy of worship ourselves, you know?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: So there you go.

Jennifer Rothschild: You know, you mention Isaiah 6, because that's one of my favorite passages. And it starts with, you know, "In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord." And I've thought about that so many times because I thought here he was, a prophet who's going to be in the temple all the time anyway. But what happened this one time when he saw the Lord? Like, it just shows, you can show up in the temple, you can show up in the church and you don't necessarily see God. But then a few verses later, like you said, because he did see God, then he says, "Woe is me." Like, I'm undone, I'm destroyed. I'm a man of unclean lips. It's a healthy kind of undone, you know? It's the humility that you're talking about. And you used the word "freedom" a couple of times in regard to that, Scarlet, and I think you are spot on. There is freedom.

But I want to circle back to a word you used several times also, "striving." Okay? So clearly you're not the only one that deals with this, I think, because it's like there's this epidemic of people feeling super pressure to be the best at everything, you know --

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Right.

Jennifer Rothschild: -- strive, strive, strive. So where do you think this comes from?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: I think it comes from being a human being and wanting to feel okay when you lay your head down --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: -- at night, you know? I really think so. I think that I looked for it by being a perfectionist as a child, as a teenager, but I think there's that other personality type that's like, no way, I don't care. But they are still striving to be something that makes them feel like they are doing a good job at being whatever it is that they want to --

Jennifer Rothschild: At being "I don't care."

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Yes. Yeah, I think that it comes from that. And I think that we are just wired -- I mean, God created us in his image. We were made to worship and we were made to love and be loved, and so we're going to try to get that in some way or another, whether it's doing it the way that God made us to do it, which is the only way that I from experience have -- that the Bible says, but also that I've experienced, that gives you the true peace and the real deep joy, or we're going to keep looking for the hit of a positive compliment or a promotion or a pat on the back that makes us feel good for a second and then we're like, oh, that wasn't -- it doesn't last, so what's the next thing? Keeps striving.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: And it's miserable.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. It's just a reflection -- you're right -- of the unmet longing that can only be met in Christ. And I know some who are listening right now are starting to resonate. I think a few missing pieces might be falling into place.

And so most of our listeners right now, they're Christians, right? And so it's easy for this hustle mentality, this strive, strive, strive, to even happen when we're believers. When we say we know our identity in Christ, et cetera, we still -- this hustle mentality can creep in. And I get it. Because let's think about this, Scarlet, you know, even in the New Testament, Jesus even said -- King James Version -- "Be ye perfect as I am perfect." I mean, there's some pressure right there -- okay? -- if we misunderstand it. So does this hustle mentality still dog you as a believer? And, if so, how do you fight it?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Great questions. Well, before I answer it, I'll say -- this is just funny and this is what came to mind when you were talking. When -- my first date with my husband -- so my husband's a pastor. I dated him -- I was 19 years old when I went on my first date with him. And we listened to a Third Eye Blind CD in the car, which has inappropriate things in it, so he would hand bleep the inappropriate things because we both liked this band.

Okay, so we finished the album that has been hand bleeped and he looks at me and he's like, "So what's your favorite book of the Bible?" as you do when you're a pastor on a date bleeping Third Eye Blind. And I immediately was like, "James, the Book of James." And he said, "Why?" And I said, "Because it tells me what to do." And it's so funny, it's like -- I think back on how I love the Book of James, you know, "Consider it all joy when you suffer," and it's telling you to be holy. And those words are holy and beautiful and true, right? But in my mind, just like you said, I was a believer, but I was misunderstanding -- well, I didn't know the character of God yet. So when I would see these commands in the Bible, when I would see, you know, when you're suffering, you better be joyful, that's how I would read that. Or --

Jennifer Rothschild: To Do list.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Yes, a To Do list. Exactly. And for me as a 19-year-old, that was comforting, because I was actually dumb enough to be like, I can do this, you know. Then you get a little older and you realize, oh, no, no, I can't. Yeah, so that's kind of where I was.

But now that I -- you know, I realize that God is a Good Father, and that's not just, like, somewhere in some song, like, it's on every page of the Bible. I learned in my 30s that there's not the Old Testament and the Jesus part testament. Jesus is the star of the whole -- everything. He's on every -- his love and redemption is on every page. So when I learned to read the Bible that way, study it that way, and when I learned that obeying does result in joy and blessing practically in life, I realized how I'd been misreading God's words and his commands. I'd been reading them as an angry father that was like you better do this or else, rather than a good father like my dad, my adoptive dad, who I dedicated my book to.

You know, he used to lean over the kitchen counter when I'd go out on a date when I was 17, and he'd be like, "Scarlet, remember, all sin leads to heartache." And he would say that over and over and over and over. It was like a joke in our house. It was a broken record. And I knew -- like, in my mind I'm like, okay, he doesn't want me to do anything bad with a boy or do drugs, you know, all the teenage things that a dad doesn't want. And I'm like, "Okay, okay, okay. Can I go now?" And then I would leave. But what I see now is he wasn't saying you better not do something bad, he was saying if you sin, you will hurt. If you make these mistakes, and not just these teenage mistakes, but the mistake of pride or unforgiveness, anything that is sinful that God says stay away from, if you do it, you will hurt. Sin leads to heartache. And now I see that that was him being a loving father saying, I don't want you to hurt.

And so when I read God's commands now, I see a Father who's saying, I love you, and I made you, and I know what's best for you, and I want you to have what's best. I want you to have peace and joy that is available when you live the way that I say to live.

So it's a lot harder for me these days to fall into that striving mentality because I have made a habit and a practice of preaching the truth to my forgetful heart as often as possible and I've forced myself into the obedience of living in Christian community. I'm kind of a hermit by nature. Like, I don't want to hurt, I don't want to have conflict with people, it's easier to be alone. But I've learned that if you lean into that, you are not putting yourself in a position of being around other believers who can remind you of the truth when you're weak and forgetful, and, oh, my goodness, God has changed my life just by obeying that one thing of, you know, not neglecting the Christian community.

So, yeah, I would say preach the Gospel to yourself and keep your Bible open. And if you're a believer who still struggles with striving, just -- like I said, like, get in Christian community, because we need each other and we borrow from each other's faith, and that's how I fight it when I slip back into that.

Jennifer Rothschild: Good word. Good word.

And you mentioned a couple of questions ago that you came to Christ when you were 14. So I see a young Scarlet. You said you were in a Baptist church the first week of life, but you're also backstage in comedy clubs. So would you mind telling us the story of how you came to Christ when you were 14.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: I would love to tell you the story. It's kind of a three-parter, and I'm sure by the time I'm, like, 40, 50, 60, I'll have more parts.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. Yes, yes.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: But, yeah, that part one was I was with my mom. We would spend, like, I don't know, four or six months a year in L.A. so she could audition for things during pilot season. And then we were kind of home based in Miami where my dad was a SWAT cop and police helicopter pilot. So we were kind of by-coastal, going back and forth. And at this point, I guess 14, I think we were living full time in L.A. at that time. And we were sitting in the back of a church -- I don't remember the church, Jennifer. I'm trying to find this church, so I say it everywhere I do an interview, and I'm like, "Hey, if you know what I'm talking about, please tell me, because I want to walk into this church and say, 'Hi, I got saved in this church.'"

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: I know it's like Burbank, Studio City, somewhere around there. But it was this little church doing a play about women on death row. And one of them gets hold of the Bible -- you know, they're all in there for murder or something like that -- and she realizes that because of Jesus, she's forgiven. And so she shares with the other inmates and they all walk to their executions with peace with God and with joy in their hearts. And I just remember sitting in the back of that little amateur play and thinking, oh, my goodness, like, those women broke the worst -- they were the worst kind of sinners. They were the chief chiefs of sinners. I'm here trying to be perfect, and Jesus loves them and forgave them, so surely he can love me and forgive me. So that was kind of the moment that I was like, I need him, I want him. I believe that that is the day I became a -- I'm crying in the back, I got baptized shortly after.

But then, like I said, I went into the striving. And so the beautiful part two of my testimony, I was a non-joyful, non-peaceful believer for years and years. And then when I was, I don't know, early 20s with my first baby -- she was three months old, she's eleven now -- I was at a pastors' wives' retreat. And I had brought her to the retreat because I didn't trust her amazing dad, my husband, to keep her for one night because I was so anxious. So I brought her and I'm bouncing her at the back of this, like, meeting of pastors' wives sharing motherly wisdom with us younger moms, and I'm trying to absorb it all. And I'm like, okay, I should have read "Babywise" by now. This is how you sleep train, this is how you discipline. And it was all, like, really good information, but, of course, my brain was, as I did, just interpreting it all as you're going to fail at this, you better do well at this.

And then it got to this lady who -- she's not a friend. I don't barely know her. I was in a room with her for five minutes. Her name's Elizabeth. And God just used her in that moment, and this really changed my whole life and my whole walk with Jesus. But her advice -- she had three kids, but she was younger, and she was like, "You know, my goal is not be the perfect mom, raise the perfect kids. I know I can't do that. My whole goal is to just point" -- and you can't see me, but I'm pointing upward -- "is to just show my weakness to my family and point them to Jesus, who's the Good One." And then she practically explained -- I mean, it was literally -- I mean, I don't know -- five minutes of her talking. She said, you know, "If I argue with my husband or if I snap at one of my kids, I get down and I apologize to them, and then I say, 'I sinned. I'm so sorry. This was wrong and this is what I do when I sin.' And then I pray a prayer of repentance in front of them and I'm teaching them this is what we do when we sin."

I have chills right now, Jennifer. I have told this story probably a thousand times by now. But, you know, it was like I'm sitting there -- and I was a professional Christian, air quotes, at that point.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: I was married to a pastor, I had a Bible college degree. And I'm sitting there thinking, oh, my goodness, like, I've been living my life backwards all this time. Like, I -- the Gospel is true for every moment, not just the moment I became a believer. Like, I can actually rest today because if I have a great day, then, "Thank you, Jesus, you worked through me." But if I do something wrong, "Thank you, Jesus, I'm forgiven." And so it was like, wow, I don't have to despair when I fail, which is very often.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: And so that just seriously changed everything for me. And it was at that point that God slowly changed every area of my life. Took away so much of the fear I'd been living with, because I realized I don't have to fear. My soul is safe. Like, it really is. Like, even just assurance of my faith, I became confident in that. And so, man, so grateful for that woman, Elizabeth, opening her mouth and just explaining it in a way that pierced my soul, you know --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: -- as a young, anxious mom.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, and Scarlet, I hope our listeners have heard something that I've heard without you realize you're saying it. You were in a nameless church -- you can't remember the name -- with amateur actors, who I'm sure were not Hollywood ready. You're in a pastors' retreat with a woman named Elizabeth who spoke for five minutes. Okay? What you're talking about is ordinary extraordinary moments, ordinary believers who were used extraordinarily. Because none of them probably have a book published, you know. But you do now. And we just don't know that our tiny little acts of obedience, even if we feel like, well, I'm not very good at this or I didn't say anything important, you have no idea how God is using you in someone else's life. There may be a Scarlet listening, and God's going to equip her to minister to more people than you could ever reach. I think it's such an encouragement for us just to be who God's called us to be, and do our thing, even if we think, well, somebody could do it better. Well, that's okay. God didn't call them, he called you. So do your thing, speak your word like Elizabeth did. You just never know how God's going to use it.

Okay, Scarlet, this is really good. I can't wait for people to read your book, because I can just tell this is going to be not just a great resource, but I can see too where it will be a sweet relationship that they'll get to know you. And I think that's a real plus also, I really do.

All right. But let's end this podcast the way you end your book. Okay?

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: So this will be our last question. You have a very special honor or ode to your father at the end of the book. So I'd love you to tell us about what that is and why it was so important to you for you to honor him like this.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: Oh, man. You make me cry. It's too early in the morning for this. Yeah, I ended it with an ode to my dad, you know -- so it's dedicated to him. I said, "Dedicated to my dad, the hero in the blue Jeep." And I feel like I'm not good at telling this story yet. It's way better to read it on paper because it sounds like a made-up story, because it's one of those things everything went wrong and it sounds like surely not all that happens. But it really did.

In 2020 -- of course, the year 2020 is when this happened.

Jennifer Rothschild: Of course.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: My parents were very generous and gracious to invite my whole extended family to this -- they rented a cabin on top of a mountain in Gatlinburg. And it was all beautiful and wonderful, you know, and it's me and my three children and my husband and my uncle, my grandma, and my sister and her -- it was eleven people. And long, long, long story short, there was a blizzard, the power went out, the heat went out. Everything went out, so we're all taking our separate cars trying to escape the mountain. It was a rented thing, so you had to bring all the food down. And my car had the kids and the toys in it, and my car is the one that got stuck. And so we ended up for two days stuck on top of a mountain. Like, literally we ate out of a garbage bag. I mean, it's just -- like, it was truly the perfect storm of circumstances. And you're thinking, how could a beautiful vacation in Tennessee end up in, like, Survivor? Like, my mom was calling the National Guard and trying to -- and they were like, "We can't get up there. Sorry."

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my gosh.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: And other people in the rented houses also, same situation, didn't have enough food and were going to the bathroom outside. I mean, I won't go into detail. It was a whole thing. My kids are little.

So anyway, long, long story short, I didn't even -- we turned our phones off because we didn't have a charger. And so we're turning it on only every once in a while. And my dad, who -- again, he's a retired SWAT guy, superhero, in his 60s now, but still looks like Johnny Bravo, like a triangle-shaped body. You know what I mean?

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow. Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: And apparently he rented a blue four-wheel drive Jeep, and he said he was going to try to come get us even though no rescue people would try to come get us. And so it's bad service, I'm trying to hear what he's saying, and he couldn't get -- he was, like, sliding down, and he'd gotten within about half a mile of us. And so we're, like, sliding down trying to find him. And I'm seeing other people trying to escape too and I'm asking, "Have you seen a blue Jeep?" No, nobody's seen it. And then finally someone says, "Yes, there's a blue Jeep at the bottom of this hill." And so then I finally turned the corner and I see my dad in his leather jacket and a blue Jeep. My hero, you know. And I fall into his arms crying. And, you know, we hadn't showered in four days. It was like it was a movie.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Scarlet Hiltibidal: And that's just one example of who he's been in my life and how he has mirrored the Lord to me. I was a confused, scared kid before he legally adopted me when I was eight. And I needed a good dad and I needed to know that I was loved. And he has been my hero in ways like that just recently, but also by reading his Bible and underlining it in red every night before he'd go to bed. And I saw that growing up. You know, I saw that and I saw him leaning over the counter, like I told you earlier, and saying, "All sin leads to heartache."

And I saw him standing in the kitchen listening to me while I'd sit on the counter just word vomit, saying my worries over and over for an hour. And I was always like, man, he's not telling me to hurry, he's listening. He would give me the same advice over and over. He was my friend. He was a good father. Is a good father. And so, man, I'm just super grateful to honor him in this book, because it's just -- yeah, he is one of the most shining earthly examples of my Heavenly Father I've ever had.

K.C. Wright: God is your Father, and he's a Good Father. He will always listen with an unhurried heart. So no matter what your earthly father is or was like, you can trust your Heavenly Father with all the things. All the things in your life.

Jennifer Rothschild: All the things, yeah.

I know you agree with me, after hearing that conversation, that Scarlet is a delight. She really is, isn't she? Delightful is how I would describe her. But seriously, let's start a love offering or kickstart a campaign to get her name changed to Smith, at least to reduce me and K.C.'s anxiety. Hit-a-Bible, Hit-the-Bible. Hit-the-Bible. I don't know. Okay.

K.C. Wright: I'm with you on that. But like she said, call her Scarlet H.

Jennifer Rothschild: That's right.

K.C. Wright: So if you want to get her book, you can find it right now on the show notes at And even better, you can win one right now on Jennifer's Instagram. She's @jennrothschild on Instagram. Or you can find a link to Jennifer's Instagram on the show notes at

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Lots of freedom there, y'all, in Scarlet's book, so you need to get it. Okay?

All right. Until next week, our people, we love you very much. Remember that you can give up on perfect and get grace instead, because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. I can.

K.C. Wright: I can.

Jennifer Rothschild: And you can.

K.C. Wright: You can.

Now, here's a true story. One time I was broadcasting live from a cheese factory.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my gosh, a cheese factory?

K.C. Wright: Yes. True story. And we went to the church next door to the cheese factory, and when you walked in, there was a picture of the founding pastor.

Jennifer Rothschild: Of the church --

K.C. Wright: Of the church.

Jennifer Rothschild: -- next to the cheese factory?

K.C. Wright: Would you believe, it was Pastor Mouse? His last name was Mouse. I kid you not. Now, I'm sure the church was there before the cheese factory.

Jennifer Rothschild: I don't know. Mice always go toward the cheese.


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