Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Daughters and Emotions

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Leslie Basham: Dannah Gresh says moms should be on the lookout for what she calls “sticky emotions” in their daughters.

Dannah Gresh: Chronic, recurring emotions that don’t go away could be evidence that there is a lie growing deep in the root system of that tween girl’s life.

Leslie: Today we’ll hear how to fight lies with God’s Truth! This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for February 8, 2019.

Dannah Gresh has been in the studio all this week with Nancy. They’ve been talking about the brand-new book, Lies Girls Believe. While Dannah was researching for this book, she discovered how common it was for moms to question the state of their daughter’s emotional health. Here’s Dannah.

Dannah: When I conducted focus groups across the nation asking moms how they would describe their tween girls, they used words like: “insecure, embarrassed, stressed out, anxious, depressed, angry, ashamed, lonely.”

And they often asked me, “Are those reactions that my daughter is having to life normal and a part of development . . . or is something wrong? Should I be doing something to address it?” That’s a really critical question, but it doesn’t really have a simple answer. Every mother has to answer it for herself.

Sometimes emotions are just healthy reactions to life, but sometimes it’s an alarm going off in our daughters’ hearts. And today, I want to tell moms that there’s one thing every single mother needs to know about her daughter’s emotions in order to be able to tell the difference.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Is your daughter’s emotional response to life a healthy one or is it a sign that something is wrong? Today on Revive Our Hearts we’re going to look at a practical tool to help you know the difference.

This week we’re talking about the new release that Dannah Gresh has written called Lies Girls Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, along with A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe. And in the pages of Lies Girls Believe, Dannah Gresh has included a tool that will help you and your tween daughter identify unhealthy emotions that may be evidence that a lie is lurking in her heart.

So, “stressed out, depressed, embarrassed, ashamed, lonely,” those are some of the words I used to describe adult women in Lies Women Believe, but Dannah, you’ve used these words to describe eight- to twelve-year-old girls in Lies Girls Believe!

Dannah: Yes, depression for adolescents is on the rise at a breakneck pace—with tween girls especially at risk! One of the alarming things I saw in my research is that ER visits—that’s Emergency Room visits—for girls ages ten to fourteen for the treatment of cutting, burning, and ingesting poison, has significantly risen—19 percent—since the year 2009.

That’s, that’s . . . I mean, who would have imagined girls that age struggling with something like that!?

Nancy: And, Dannah, it’s not just these concerning emotions. In Lies Women Believe, I used a term, “spiritual bondage,” to describe what some adult women experience when it comes to their emotions. It’s not just a rogue emotion or a random emotion, but it becomes a track, a pattern, a rut, in their lives. It’s an area of bondage.

Do you think that same term could be applied to some of the tween girls you talked to?

Dannah: Well, their moms used that kind of language to describe what was happening in their daughters. They said that the enemy was at work, that they were in bondage. And one woman said to me, and I’m going to quote her, “Satan does not discriminate based on age!”

Nancy: Yes.

Dannah: And, of course, that brought to mind one of the core verses from Lies Women Believe, John 10:10, that the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. And he’s doing that with our daughters!

Nancy: “But,” Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). So Jesus is in a search-and-rescue operation with these girls, rescuing them-—and their moms—from lies, setting them free by the truth!

So back to this spiritual bondage thing, these negative emotions. We’re not saying that every little girl is in spiritual bondage, but I think what we are saying is that every girl, every teen, every woman is at risk of being in bondage.

So, how do we know?What are the tell-tale signs for a mom or a grandmom or an adult friend to watch for in little girls’ lives that say, “There’s the presence of some lies here that may be leading to bondage?”

Dannah: Well, Nancy, I think you did the whole Christian girl world a great favor in Lies Women Believe when you helped us to identify the fact that oftentimes our emotions are evidence of a lie that we might be believing.

Now this is very complicated when we start to translate your book for this age group, because they’re in those years where hormones are new, and they’re being just deluged with new emotions that they haven’t felt before. And they don’t have the maturity to know how to deal with them.

Nancy: And those emotions aren’t necessarily sinful.

Dannah: No, they’re not. In fact, even the emotions we consider “bad” can be healthy tools from God. If you’re daughter is feeling stressed-out, that may be God’s Spirit sending her a signal through her emotions that she’s doing too much; that she needs to schedule less in her life.

You need to help her schedule less in her life. When she responds to the emotion of stress in her life by doing less, that emotion’s going to go away because it will have done its job. But, there are some times when those emotions just really . . . You can respond to them all you want, and a girl is still going to feel anxious or stressed or depressed.

Nancy: It becomes a pattern in her life. I wondered on some of these subjects how you were going to take a kind of adult subject and say it in language that eight- to twelve-year-old girls could really grasp, and I love the way that you did this in Lies Girls Believe!

You gave a tool that I thought was really creative and helpful. It’s .a tool for girls to use on themselves to tell if their emotions are healthy, normal, and good, or if they’re evidence that a lie is lurking underneath the surface. Can you explain how you shared that?

Dannah: I came up with the term (I should say my husband helped me come up with the term; he will appreciate the credit!) “sticky emotions” or “sticky feelings.” Our emotions are supposed to come, and we’re supposed to be angry when somebody does something bad, but we respond . . . and the emotion goes away.

We’re supposed to be anxious because we have a test—maybe that even helps us study for the test—but we study, we take the test, the emotion goes away. But when our emotions are chronic and “sticky”—they stick to us like glue and they never go away, and we maybe don’t understand why they’re there—then that’s possible evidence that we’re believing a lie.

So the one thing I want to make sure every mom knows, every grandma knows, every woman working with tween, and even teen girls knows: Chronic, recurring emotions that don’t go away could be evidence that there is a lie growing deep in the root system of that tween girl’s life!

Nancy: I’m just imagining a young girl—or teen girl or a grown woman—feeling like those emotions have wrapped themselves around her like a wet blanket that she can’t get rid of: it’s heavy, it’s always there. This is a sign to look for when you care about this young woman or teen in your life.

They’re clothed in this, and they just feel overwhelmed by it, and it’s chronic and recurring. That’s a sign that there’s a concern there.

Dannah: Yep, that’s a concern there. That’s a sign, and also just sinfulness is a sign. So the two big emotions that your daughter/granddaughter might be believing a lie is that “sticky emotion,” to the point where the emotion becomes a label—it defines who she is. Or, she’s acting out. She’s sinning. That might be evidence that there’s a lie in her heart.

Nancy: And you have a character in the book named Zoey (a made-up character), who kind of walks girls through a narrative. You actually have her describe sticky feelings.

Dannah: She’s very real to me, Nancy! She’s not made-up—she’s become a very important part of my life! (laughter) Her name is Zoey, and she describes what sticky feelings feel like. I think she does it really well! So, let’s let Zoey describe it for you.

Zoey: Hi! I’m Zoey, and just like you. I’m a girl with a lot of emotions! It’s normal to feel sad, ugly, lonely, stupid, weird—and all kinds of other things sometimes—but when feelings stick to us all the time, every day, that’s not good! I call those feelings that never go away, “sticky feelings.”

Your feelings—or emotions—are kind of like the skin of your heart, the inside part of you that has feelings, not the organ that pumps blood. Let me explain. When you accidentally touch a hot pot and it burns you, your skin tells you, “Don’t do that! Ouch!” When you touch a soft, comfy blanket, your skin says, “Yes, do that!” It helps you know what is safe and unsafe for your body.

In a similar way, your feelings can protect your heart, when it is under God’s control and you use God’s truth to direct and respond to your feelings. They are good tools from God! For example, your emotions sometimes tell you when a friend is bad for you, and when a friend is good for you.

One important sign that your feelings are working the way they should is that they come and go. They do their job, and then they wait until you need them again. They aren’t sticky. You don’t feel them all the time every day. God created both good and bad feelings, and they can both be useful if you use God’s truth to respond to them.

But when you have a bad feeling and you don’t know why, or it just never goes away and you feel it all the time, every day; well, that’s a sticky feeling. It may be evidence that you believe a lie. Trust me. It happened to me!

Dannah: So, Nancy, because it happened to Zoey, these girls who are reading the book are going to have to kind of advise her in how to believe truth. And, thankfully, we have a three-step process that’s not only going to help them advise Zoe, but help them counsel their own heart. It’s from Lies Women Believe; we’ve just translated it for girls this age.

So, let’s go through those three steps.

Nancy: And, just to give context here, in all these Lies books, we list lies that women believe, young women, men believe, girls believe. We talk about the truth that sets us free. But after people read these books, we want them to be able to discern other lies they may believing, and to know how to deal with them.

So the first thing we say is, “You’ve got to recognize the evidence that you’re believing lies.”

Dannah: Yes, and so the evidence that a tween girl might be believing a lie may be a sticky feeling—a sticky emotion that just never goes away. Or it may be sin that’s evidence in her life. I want to share a couple of thoughts that tween girls said in our survey of fifteen-hundred tween girls that we used to write this book. How did this sticky feeling sound in their words?

Tween Girl 1: [deep sigh] I don’t have any friends!

Tween Girl 2: My life stinks!

Tween Girl 3: I’m the dumbest person alive!

Dannah: Sometimes the sticky feelings were well verbalized, Nancy, but sometimes they weren’t verbalized at all, and moms had to be kind of undercover agents, detectives, in observing and discerning that those emotions were there. Here’s what one mom in our focus group said about observing a sticky emotion in her daughter’s life.

Mom: When my daughter was in middle school, she suddenly became withdrawn. She didn’t want to try new things. I wondered if it was just normal insecurity or if it was something else. Then I found out that she was being bullied at school, and the pieces of the puzzle began fitting together.

She was believing all the bad things that were being said to her and it was really changing her moods and how she was acting.

Nancy: So, Dannah, as you talk to a mom like this, how would you help her to help her daughter begin to identify the lies that she might be believing?

Dannah: It’s so important to just talk with your girls and say, “Hey, sweetie, I’ve noticed that you’re not as outgoing as you used to be. Have you figured out why that might be?” And maybe she does know, maybe she doesn’t know.

Mom can say, “Hey, does it have anything to do with this person that has been saying really mean things to you?” And as that kind of conversation begins to happen, the daughter’s going to be able to maybe identify the lie herself, but you need to be prepared to go to those difficult places, the places that no mom wants to go.

We don’t want to talk about our daughter being bullied or think about our daughter being bullied.

Nancy: And sometimes, it’s something that’s happening to her that she’s reacting to, but sometimes she’s experiencing those sticky feelings as a response to sinful choices that she has made. How do you help to unearth those?

Dannah: Well, here’s what one mom in our focus group said about some of her daughter’s sin.

Mom: The level of deception my daughter has stooped to in order to avoid following the rules has dumbfounded her dad and me! She’s extremely intelligent! She gets A’s and B’s on all her tests and quizzes, and scores in the ninety-seventh percentile on standardized tests. But . . . she doesn’t like homework!

In second grade, she decided she didn’t need to do homework anymore. Her teacher, of course, did not think that was a great idea, and began sending notes home . . . but they never made it to me. My daughter is currently in fifth grade, and we have done everything we can to confront this sin, but to no avail!

So now, at the beginning of the school year, I meet with her teacher to explain my daughter’s lack of obedience, and to give the teachers my cell phone number so they can call directly when my daughter stops handing in homework.

Nancy: Okay, so here you’re dealing with a behavioral issue, and the mom is saying, “Something needs to be done about that. I’m not going to let my girl keep pulling the wool over my eyes!” She’s taking active steps. But, how does a mom . . .

You’ve been there. You’ve raised tween girls and teenagers, and you’ve talked with a lot of moms. How do they get past those surface behavioral things to get down under the surface to the roots of the lies that girl is believing, the lies that are causing her to act in sinful ways?

Dannah: Lies, by nature, are deceptive! You write that in Lies Women Believe. And so for that reason, we all tend to need help identifying them.

Nancy: And they’re not always obvious. Kind of like roots of a tree underneath the surface, you don’t always see what they are.

Dannah: Right. I needed help recently for some of my girlfriends because I was always feeling . . . I would say I felt insecure or not as good as everybody else when I would come speak at True Woman or when I would come do a day like today and do recording. I just couldn’t figure out, “What is the lie I’m believing here?”

I sat down with some girlfriends, and they helped me to identify the lie, “I don’t belong.” I couldn’t see that. I’ve been thinking about those emotions for a really long time, but I couldn’t see that I was believing that I didn’t belong.

Nancy: As you shared that story with me last night, one of the things those girlfriends did was to pray with you. It was in the place of prayer, listening to the Spirit of God, that your eyes began to be opened. They were given discernment to help you see something that was kind of under the surface, that was buried there, but it needed to come into the light. And when it did, you saw it! It was an amazing process of God setting you free.

Well, that process can happen—it’s not always dramatic—but it can happen as moms are prayerful for their daughters, with their daughters.

This sin, this behavioral issue, is a symptom of something going on in the heart, and the mom’s desire is to find out what needs to be exposed, what needs to be brought to the light, what needs to be brought to the surface. It’s not just, “What did she do wrong?” Not so, “You did this wrong; I’m going to punish you for this.” But, “What are you believing that’s not true?”

Dannah: Sometimes it’s really easy in conversations. For example, with the girl who is being bullied, she might have heard the words, “You’re dumb!” from her bullies. Then she just started to believe, “Yeah, I’m dumb!” And so it’s going to be really easy to discern.

For that girl who is refusing to turn in her homework and she’s rebelling against authority and not submitting to her teachers and her parents, it might be a lot more complex. I never shy away from getting help.

If a mom says, “I just can’t fix this homework problem,” then go to your pastor’s wife; let her counsel you and help you. If that doesn’t work, a Christian counselor may be helpful at getting to the root.

It might not have anything to do with submission and obedience. It might have to do with jealousy, because her older brother is a superstar and he’s always applauded, and it’s not related at all to handing in homework.

Nancy: These thoughts—the way that we think—they end up having such control over our lives and our behavior. It can be complex and tricky to identify what those are. It’s hard work! Listen, being a mom is hard work, right?!

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: And dealing with a child’s behavior is hard enough, but getting to the roots under the surface—thoughts and lies that they’re believing—that’s really hard. But as you identify what those lies are (this is why it can be so liberating), then you can start the process of cutting off what’s fueling the lies and replacing the lies with truth . . . which is what we really want to get to!

Dannah: So many times I just begin with a Google search of a word or a sentence and I find out, “What Bible verses have to do with the lie?” If a girl is struggling with feeling dumb, I will just do a Google search on feeling stupid or feeling dumb or feeling insecure; what does God’s Word say about that?

If a girl is feeling rebellious and not submitting, I’ll do a Google search on that and I’ll just find simple Bible verses. And sometimes that’s the perfect way. If a girl’s feeling fearful at school, you might do a Google search on the word “fear” and just let that soak in.

But sometimes, it does require prayer. We have a mom who gave a really beautiful testimony about how she identified a lie and needed to replace it with truth. The Bible truth she found might not be what she would have looked for if she hadn’t taken time to ask God’s Spirit for direction.

Mom: My daughter’s father left us when she was in elementary school. I noticed her gravitating toward other girls who also did not have dads at home. At first, I thought it was a good thing, then I noticed the emotions of bitterness and anger.

Dannah: So this girl had begun to join with these friends, and their voices of being angry at their dad was helping them fixate on that anger, and it was just making it worse! And it is true that anger distracts us from sadness, but that doesn’t fix the problem! This mom went on to say . . .

Mom: It may sound strange, but it was like Satan drew these girls to each other so that they could feed off one another and fixate on their rejection. When one of their dads didn’t show up at a birthday or for a date night, they all got mad at their dads.

Dannah: So, this mom didn’t just allow her daughter to stay in that state of anger. She prayed! She got on her knees and she asked God to give her a special Bible verse for her daughter. It wasn’t the one that I think she would have found in her flesh, had she not prayed.

Mom: Since my daughter was fixating on rejection, I felt drawn to the word “fix.” That made me think of Hebrews 12:1–2,

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (NIV).

That verse isn’t about fatherlessness, but it’s the one God led me to for my daughter, and it’s rich with the truth she needs!

Dannah: This mom told me that she just began planting the truth in her daughter. It didn’t happen overnight, but she was beginning to witness joy and hope replacing the anger and the bitterness that were in her daughter’s heart.

Nancy: And that’s a process that each of us needs to go through. It sounds like it is complex, and like it takes a long time, but really, this can become a way of life: identifying the lies that we’re believing. And what prompts us to look for those is to see these sticky feelings, to see sins that we’re committing or areas of bondage, where we’re not walking in freedom.

“What am I believing that’s not true?” I’ve seen you do this, Dannah, with groups of women when it comes to sexual healing, but it’s so important for these girls to learn that process when they’re little, so they don’t just let these feelings pile up and become ruts for their hearts.

So, not only identifying the lie they’re believing, but then replacing the lie with the truth, learning to counsel their hearts with the truth of God’s Word. And Dannah, I think of how many times in our own lives have we seen areas that are just tough, tough to deal, with and we think, Had I learned earlier how to replace lies with truth in my life, how much different would our adult lives be? How much different would the lives of some of our friends be, people that we know, people that we counsel with?

That’s why this book, Lies Girls Believe, is such a gift to the next generation as we pass on the baton of faith.

Not just telling them, “Okay, these twenty things are lies; you learn these and you’re good to go!” No, they learn how to counsel their hearts with truth! And that is going to go with them into their adult life. . .and someday, the girls who are reading Lies Girls Believe today are going to be the ones using the Mom’s Guide to teach their daughters how to identify the lies and replace them with the truth!

So I’m so eager for our listeners to get this book Lies Girls Believe and the Mom’s Guide that goes with it. We’re so thrilled to be able to make that available to our listeners this week: that Lies Girls Believe set. That’s the two books, Lies Girls Believe and the Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe.

We will be glad to send that to you as our way of saying thank you when you make a donation of $30 or more to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts this week. Your gift is an investment in moms and girls and women of every age, in this country and around the world, as they learn to walk in the freedom of God’s truth.

You can make your gift by contacting us online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Dannah, I am so thankful for the years—literally—that you’ve invested in listening to these girls’ hearts and listening to their moms’ hearts and plumbing the depths of the lies they believe and in learning how to apply the truth to their lives so they can be set free.

What a gift you are to the body of Christ. What a gift you are to me and to this ministry. Thank you for partnering with us. I’m thrilled, also, for us to be announcing this week that beginning in the fall, the events that you do for tween girls and their moms will be retitled as True Girl.

Dannah: Yes!

Nancy: True Girl events in forty-five locations around the country this coming fall . . . and Revive Our Hearts is partnering with you and your ministry in those events. People will be able to go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, and get information about the dates, the locations. This is an incredible outreach to these tween girls and their moms!

I had the privilege of being at one of those events myself not too long ago. They’re creative, they’re fun, they’re active, they’re energetic. You train a team of young women who go around the country and present these events. Revive Our Hearts is so thrilled to be partnering with you in these True Girl events that we just believe are going to produce much fruit for generations to come!

Dannah: Well, I’m excited, Nancy, because now we have True Girl—True Woman at the other end—and in the middle, we have lots of partnerships where we minister to “true teens.” It’s not an official name or anything, but we have Lies Young Women Believe.

We have other resources, we have the blog, LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com, and so now we can disciple those women from so very young to . . . well . . . you know, “wiser!”

Nancy: Helping women of every age experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. That’s what we’re here for!

Dannah: Amen! Every age!

Leslie: In the gospels, we read about a group of women who traveled with Jesus, helping to meet the practical needs of His ministry. During the days of Jesus, this would have been radical! Monday, on Revive Our Hearts, explore why these women would reject social norms to give generously to Jesus.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth believes that the truth can set you free! It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
 

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