Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Countering Lies with the Truth

Leslie Basham: Today young people feel so much pressure.

Girl: I wish that when I was younger I had known what a vicious cycle people-pleasing really is. It’s not just about you pleasing others. When others don’t accept you, especially when you’re a young girl, a lot of times at least for me, it was because they were all so afraid of what people might think if they did accept me because I was different from them.

It was all about whatever I could do to fit in. I didn’t want to be different. I didn’t want to stand out. I wanted everyone to think I was just like everybody else.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, August 8.

Everybody feels pressure to fit in, so everyone will benefit from today's program.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh, authors of Lies Young Women Believe, are about to talk about the expectations young women face. Bob Lepine is our guest interviewer today.

Bob Lepine: Let’s see if we can start to get into some of the heart of the matter, at least as it relates to teenage girls, where the rubber of the lies meets the road of their lives, if we can say it that way.

As you’ve interacted with teenagers and as you’ve heard back from many teenagers in putting this book together, you’ve been able to categorize these lies in some broader categories. There are twenty-five different lies you talk about in the book, but they’re lies in different directions. How did you group them together?

Dannah Gresh: Well, we grouped them—some of the lies are about God, some of the lies are about myself, lies about beauty and my value. Some of the lies are about the media and how they approach entertainment and issues like that today. Lies about relationships was a big area.

We have one whole category for lies about guys since that seems to be a big one for that age group. We tried to break it down into areas so they could be kind of thinking in that general area when they started to uncover truth.

Bob: In the area of friendships, what are girls thinking? What’s the lie they’re believing about friendships?

Dannah: Well, probably the big one that we saw was, “I don’t have any friends. Nobody likes me.” Then they would run off to the bathroom with a flock of them. So obviously it’s a lie because they’re surrounded by people, but it doesn’t change the isolation that they sometimes felt.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That’s where it comes back to this thing of perception is half of reality. I kind of smiled to myself at times as we were reading some of the research and the reports that came back from the discussion groups and the surveys and thinking it’s not just teenage girls. These are things that I think women deal with generally, struggles in terms of relationships.

I’m counseling often with women who are “he said, she said, they said,” and “I feel alone and isolated.” So we’re made to be relational. When we feel that things aren’t connecting relationally, there’s an emptiness. There’s a vacuum. There’s a hunger. There’s a longing for connection.

Ultimately what we know is that hunger, that longing is not going to be fulfilled in any human relationship in an ultimate sense, but it’s a hunger for God. That’s, I think, the thing we tried to help the girls get to.

Dannah: You say that women struggle with this. As someone who travels to minister, I have to prioritize that when I’m not traveling. My family is where my friendship time is spent. I spend very little time with women. For the benefit of the women listening that listen to you every day, Nancy, can I run the risk of asking if you ever have to just take that to the Lord as a woman in leadership?

Nancy: Life is busy, and I’m not able to sustain and maintain the depth and quality of relationships that I would long for. Yet God has been very gracious and has put other women into my life who do connect to my heart, and I feel very blessed on that front. But who hasn’t, myself included, had times when you feel nobody understands.

It’s not just true in women’s relationships. I hear this from married women about their marriage, that their husband doesn’t really connect to their heart. I think God has created our hearts with this huge, cavernous vacuum that no human being can fill in the deepest sense. That there will always be some unfulfilled longings.

That sounds a little bit like the counsel of despair unless we let it point us to that core relationship with the Lord. When I’m cultivating that friendship with Him, then I don’t have to look to those other friendships to be the end all satisfying thing in my life.

Bob: All right, now you ladies are running to the truth a little too quick here. I want to pull you back because I think teenage girls would say,

Okay, yeah, I know that I should have this core relationship with the Lord and that’s where my friendship should be.

But you don’t know what it’s like in junior high. You don’t know what the culture is. You don’t know about the mean girls at my school. You don’t know how daily I am made to feel like I don’t have any value or worth and even those girls I look at and think of as my friends, they betray me. They say things that are mean to me without even realizing it.

You can wind up feeling alone and insecure very easily. Yes, I take that to the Lord and I pray and I ask Him to fill that spot, but sometimes I need Jesus with flesh on, and I feel like I don’t have that.

Nancy: God made us for relationships, so that is a God-created longing. I think the lie becomes, "How am I looking to fulfill that longing?"

Dannah: I think that’s where the lies that we as women can understand what it’s like to feel a little isolated. That’s where we lose the ability to really understand the heat of the battle for our daughters.

When your daughter comes home at the end of the day and everyone at school knows there was a note in her locker that said how ugly and hypocritical and everything she is and she attends a Christian school, that’s where the rubber meets the road with a lie like this.

Because Satan can go back to that day for decades and bring the words—she’ll see the exact way the words looked on the paper for years. If you don’t have empathy and understanding to address that with truth, you have to say, “Yes, this is a bad day. Let’s cry together.”

Bob: How does a teenage girl navigate between this legitimate need for human relationships and an unhealthy dependence on human relationships? You know the difference I’m talking about here?

Dannah: Well, I was just thinking that this lie kind of intersects with the top lie in the book. I don’t know that it’s the most powerful, but it’s the first one we decided to address, which is: God is not enough.

Because when we listened to girls talk about that, they said, “Yes, if my parents could just be together, I’d be happy. Yes, if I could just get A’s, I would be happy. If I could just make the soccer team I’d be happy. If I could just get to be president of the youth group, I’d be happy.”

But across the board, the number one thing that they said about God not being enough was, “As long as I have my friends, God is enough.” So obviously, it’s hard to talk about this lie about I don’t have any friends without first addressing that. Because if you look to friends as your source of sustenance, they are going to let you down.

Bob: Parents can sometimes look back objectively and say, “I know my daughter may be saying she doesn’t have any friends. She’s got lots of friends.” Other parents though are looking and saying, “I know my daughter says she doesn’t have any friends and the reality is my daughter doesn’t have a whole lot of friends.”

Nancy: That’s where, Dannah, I think one of the things we’ve tried to address in this book is you’ve challenged us to try to be a friend to others and to see what their need is. When you’re feeling needy, it’s hard to step into that sense of rejection and say, “There’s somebody who’s feeling more rejected. There’s somebody who’s also feeling lonely. Who can I reach out to?”

How many times have we seen it in our own lives where we do reach out to the needy, lonely person and then we look back and we say, “I found I’ve got a friend?” God has filled my cup as I’ve been willing to do that.

Dannah: We actually were at one of our youth events a few months ago and my coworker, Susie, was working with a girl that was a lot like this. She really wasn’t an easily likeable young woman. She was just that kind of girl.

Susie said to her, “Here’s what you need to do. This week at school, I challenge you to look around and find someone who’s lonelier than you are, and ask God what to do with that.” Well, she saw this young woman a few days later at lunch sitting all by herself and thought, “She sits by herself at lunch every day. I’m going to go sit with her.”

A couple weeks later, she wrote to Susie and said, “I found my best friend because I stopped saying who’s going to be my friend and I started looking around and saying who needs a friend?”

Bob: It’s hard sometimes to get a fourteen-year-old to think about others instead of themselves. I mean we’re naturally predisposed to be self-centered. How do you help lift a young girl’s eyes to be more outward focused rather than so inward focused?

Dannah: Well, I think one of the things as moms we make a mistake of quickly running to the solutions and the truth instead of just stopping and saying, “Wow, this really hurts doesn’t it? You’ve really had a bad day” or “You know what? Your friend said some really untruthful things about you.”

I think sometimes if we will just stop and cry with them a little bit instead of quickly changing how they should be thinking, that’s going to open their hearts up to listen to your advice.

Nancy: Of course, the balance there is to do that in a way that you’re not picking up an offense for your daughter and then projecting bitterness or blame or anger. That’s an easy thing to do. It’s one thing for somebody to hurt a mom, but you hurt her kid . . .

Dannah: Momma bear comes out.

Nancy: Yes, right.

Bob: While we’re on that subject, one of the lies that you talk about teenage girls believing is related to her mom and her dad, her parents, her relationship with her parents. What did you find is the dominant lie in that aspect of teen relationships?

Nancy: Well, it’s a lie that is not just endemic to teenagers, but to all of us, and that is: I am my own authority. From the Garden, from the Fall, it’s a built-in tendency to resist the concept of being under authority.

Of course, we talk about teenage rebellion for every generation. For generations past we’ve talked about that, but I think today is no different. In our culture, I think it’s even more so true that there’s this general rejection of authority. There’s the sense that no matter how old or young you are, you know what you’re talking about, and you don’t have to do what somebody else tells you to do.

We’re all kind of born with that kick in our spirit. In many cases it’s because authorities, people in positions of leadership and authority, have not been respectable, have not been worthy models. That’s where it becomes difficult.

A lot of these kids have seen their parents break up. They’ve seen their parents living in ways that are not consistent with the gospel. So you can feel like you can throw off that authority with some justification, and not just their parents’ authority. Dannah, we talked about the sense of, “I can break the rules. They don’t apply to me.”

Dannah: Yes. There’s a word I’ve seen on the Internet a few times. I’m not sure if it will get picked up or not, but it’s called “authority minimization.” It’s a new phenomenon that’s kind of about this generation—the twenty-one and younger kids—that’s fueled by the Internet. They go on to the Internet world and who’s in charge there? Nobody.

Bob: That’s right.

Dannah: So they get to make their own decisions. They get to say whatever they want to say. There’s nobody telling them they can’t say those things. They get to behave however they want to behave, look at anything they want to look at, go anywhere they want to go, and nobody’s really restricting that. That bleeds over into their other lives.

Did we rebel against our parents’ authority when we were thirteen? Yes. Is it possible that that’s an even more complex thing for our kids to wrap their minds around—the issue of submission and respecting their parents—because of the world they live in? I think so. I really think that it is.

Bob: Would you say that teenagers today feel disconnected from a relationship with mom and dad, or is there more anger and hostility there, or are kids and their parents getting along okay?

Dannah: We had a hard time actually deciding where to land on this in the book because a lot of the research said that parents today have a better relationship with their kids than maybe they did a generation ago; that parents are more understanding; that parents are willing to listen to what they’re really struggling with.

I think that’s probably true. I think that people that grew up with me as a teenager, we are more transparent about what we struggle with than maybe my parents were. But on the other hand, I don’t think it’s completely absolved itself.

The goal for our children is not that we would be friends with them but that we would teach them how to respond to authority. So we weren’t quite sure where to land with that in the book, but where we did land with it is first of all understanding what their fears are in submitting.

Maybe that’s what moms need to hear a little bit of today. Our kids are afraid to submit because sometimes we’re not very quiet and protective about what they’re struggling with.

Bob: Explain what you mean by that.

Dannah: We run to dad right away and say . . .

Bob: “Fix it.”

Dannah: “Fix it, dad. Here’s what your daughter’s doing. Go take care of her.” Or we run to our best friend and say, “Your daughter’s a year older than mine and she did this last year, so what do I do about my daughter this year?” Listening to these girls in the focus groups be so crumbled by that made me really look at how much caution and wisdom I have to use when I’m solving Lexi’s problems.

So some of their fears about submission are legitimate. I think that, as parents, if we’re going to be effective in teaching them how submission is a security factor and it’s good for them, we’re going to have to address those fears.

Bob: What you’re really saying it seems to me is that moms and dads need to learn the art of servant leadership with their children. We are in the position of authority over our children. Yet somehow we don’t think that that leadership needs to be servant leadership with our kids, but it can be highly authoritarian. We can just lay down the law and they’re supposed to submit.

Well, that kind of lording leadership is what Jesus said, “This is not characteristic of those who follow Me, but the one who would be first must be the servant of all” (Mark 9:35 paraphrased).

It’s hard for a mom or a dad to stop and think about, “I’m supposed to serve my children as I lead them? Well, I’m serving them by giving them a place to sleep. I’m serving by food on the table. Now they just need to obey the rest of the time.” But you’re talking about a kind of gentle, compassionate guidance and leadership that a wise parent will employ.

Nancy: Not provoking your children to anger. I’ll tell you another huge thing is just the modeling of submission. I think we have to ask moms, if your children learned about submission from the way that you submit to God-ordained authority, how would they submit?

What are our attitudes as an adult generation toward authority? Are we quick to berate or badmouth anything from the President to the pastor to the husband to the schoolteacher? What is our attitude toward authority?

I have watched parents—and I’m sure they just had no clue what they were modeling to their children—skirting the law, lying about the kid’s age to get into an amusement park. That’s rebellion against authority.

Then you have a mom who rolls her eyes when it comes to her husband’s authority and is a disgruntled wife, then wants her children to obey with a happy heart and good attitude. So much of this is caught.

I think when this younger generation sees us honoring the Word of God and honoring authority, and they see the blessings and the rewards of that in our lives and the peace that that brings, to me that’s going to be more compelling than just saying, “You need to come under authority.”

Dannah: Right.

Bob: That’s where we get to the truth. If the lie is: I’m my own authority. The truth is: No, we all are under the lordship of Christ whether we bow our knee to Him or not. Then underneath His authority, He has put moms and dads. He has put teachers. He has put governmental authorities and different authority structures.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that if I submit to what these folks are asking me to do my life is going to be better. It sure seems like if I submit to mom and dad and to my teachers and to the police and to everybody else out there, that’s just going to drain all the fun out of life, and my life’s going to be miserable. That’s how a teenager thinks, isn’t it?

Dannah: Sure. That’s how they feel. They feel that you don’t understand. And truly sometimes, moms and dads, we don't.

One of the really interesting things about this project for me was coming under Nancy's authority. I've been reminded through the process that submission is never easy. But when an authority says, "Write that chapter again," it hurts.

I think moms need to go back and remember how hard it is. How many times when your daughter does submit, do you say, “I’m really impressed with your attitude?” How many times do we hand out the encouragement and the positive reinforcement when they do it?

We’re very quick to say you’re not submitting. You’re not obeying. But when was the last time you said to your daughter, “I really respected your response in that?”

Bob: Let’s imagine for a moment I’m a teenage girl. Convince me that life really is going to go better. Help me with the truth I need to be believing here because it just seems to me . . . I know what the Bible says that I ought to be doing, but it just seems like that’s going to mess up my life.

Nancy: I think all of this—whether you’re a young woman or an older woman or male or female—comes back to our relationship with the Lord and saying that we were made for submission to God, that God is sovereign. He is Lord. He is never wrong. So yes, it’s a little easier maybe to submit to His authority.

Life functions when we function in accordance with the will of God, when we glorify Him and please Him and obey Him. He has set up these structures in life that are authority structures. We don’t have to like them. We don’t have to agree with them. We don’t have to understand them.

But if you trust God, then you trust that He knows what He’s doing. He’s the author of life. He made us. He wants to bless us. You know that blessing is going to come as I come under His authority.

Dealing with human authorities is an almost impossible subject for somebody of my makeup because I’m always right. I don’t want anybody telling me what to do. I mean just naturally that’s how I’m wired. But when I see it as an issue of coming under the authority of the God and Creator of the universe and God says . . .

At a certain season of your life you have parents. Another season of your life you have a boss, you have a board, you have people that provide counsel. This is not an issue of whether I agree with them. This is not an issue of whether their attitude was right, which can make us justify our own resistance against authority. This is a matter of do you trust Me enough to let Me work in the lives of your authorities and to place yourself under that? 

So ultimately, it becomes an issue of submission to God. When I view it that way, then it doesn’t really matter in a sense whether that authority is right or wrong or agreeable or disagreeable.

I can remember growing up in my home I would often react to the spirit of one of my parents in a particular incident. When you’ve got six teenagers in your home, as we did, I don’t care how sanctified your parents are, there are going to be times when their attitudes are not sanctified, and they’re jumping to conclusions or making a wrong call.

I would react to the overstatement or to the spirit of a directive or a decision that was made. I can remember my dad pulling me aside and saying, “God doesn’t hold you accountable for how your mother said that or whether she’s right or wrong. God holds her accountable for that, and we’ll deal with that. But God holds you accountable for your response and your reaction.”

That was a clarifying thing for me. It has proved to be a huge life lesson. I won’t have to answer to God for another person who’s in a position of authority and for how they handled the situation, but I will have to answer for whether I was obedient.

When I choose the pathway of obedience, I’m following in the steps of Christ who was obedient to the will of His Heavenly Father. When I resist the authority, I’m following in the steps of Satan who is the ultimate rebel and says I’ll be my own god.

So it clarifies the issue for me to see it that way. It doesn’t make it easy all the time, but it does help me to see it from God’s point of view.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She’s been talking with Dannah Gresh and Bob Lepine about the deepest issue in life: Who is in control? The young women you interact with need to wrestle with this issue. Nothing else is more important.

They’ll be confronted with this question when they read the book by Nancy and Dannah called Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. They’ll also get a chance to think through some of the other lies they’re confronted with regarding physical appearance, entertainment, relationships, and a whole lot more. They’ll be challenged to bring all these issues under God’s control when they read Lies Young Women Believe.

We’d like to send you the book when you make a donation to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Ask for it when you donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959. You can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

You have an opportunity to hear from all of today's guests at a conference next month. It's called True Woman '12: Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening. Nancy will be speaking, and she and Bob will serve as the emcees. Dannah Gresh will be leading the teen track. You'll also hear from Priscilla Shirer, Mary Kassian, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Janet Parshall.

True Woman '12 is coming to Indianapolis next month. For all the details, visit ReviveOurHearts.com

In the book Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy and Dannah address this popular idea: Having a career is more important than being a wife and mom. They'll be back to counter that lie with the truth, tomorrow. I hope you'll join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.