Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Erin Davis suffered ongoing panic attacks until older women started investing in her life.

Erin Davis: They began to pray that the Lord would reveal specific lies that I was believing, and I just broke as the lies were identified. Things like, “Everybody leaves.” Things like, “There’s something about me that people eventually discover, and they will abandon me.” Things like, “There is something wrong with you.”

As each lie was identified, part of the hardness of my heart and part of my struggle began to fall off in chunks.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, August 7.

Anticipation is high. Several thousand women have signed up for True Woman '12: Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening . It's coming to Indianapolis September 20-22. You are about to hear from four of the speakers who are participating. Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Bob Lepine will be co-hosting and Erin Davis and Dannah Gresh will be leading the teen track.

Bob interviewed Nancy and Dannah about their book, Lies Young Women Believe. He talked with them along with Erin, who did research for the book. Let's listen.

Bob Lepine: We are joined in our conversation here at the table by Erin Davis. Dannah, your relationship with Erin goes back a number of years, doesn’t it?

Dannah Gresh: It does. I remember Erin when she was in junior high school.  I started mentoring her when she was fifteen.

Erin’s story really helps us to see not only the destructive patterns that lies can bring into a young woman’s life, but also the freedom that Christ’s truth can bring. Erin, can you tell us a little bit about your struggle with panic attacks?

Erin: Sure. For years I woke up nearly every night after having horrific nightmares in a state of panic. Sometimes I would wake up and be unable to breath. Sometimes I would just be so oppressed by fear . . .

Dannah: . . . from junior high till the first several years of your marriage.

Erin: Yes. I would say it originated when my parents divorced. I was ten. The theme of my nightmares was never ghosts or anything scary. It was abandonment. I would find myself alone and wake up just petrified by that.

So I would say it originated with my parents at the end of their marriage and probably manifested itself in nightmares at age twelve, thirteen, fourteen, something like that.

Bob: What did you think was going on?

Erin: I knew it was spiritual. I knew that it had to do with some deep issues in my heart. I thought it was something that I was just going to have to live with. My mom has nightmares, has had nightmares for years. My twin sister had nightmares and had had nightmares for years all based on our experience with abandonment.

So I just thought it was who I was and what I had to go through.

Bob: But you said you knew it was spiritual.

Erin: Well, I knew it was tied to my heart, and I knew Jesus at that point and knew that He certainly did not abandon. I knew that my parents’ divorce was not the experience that defined me. But I just didn’t really ever think I could have freedom from those nightmares.

Dannah: I think it’s important to say, too, that Erin was one of the most amazing Christian young women in the youth group. She was the one who everyone would look at and say, “She’s strong. She has it all together. She’s serving the Lord. She’s going to do great things for Him.” And yet this was plaguing her.

I felt a little bit as a mentor like, “God, I should be able to fix this.” But I couldn’t. Erin, you were in your twenties when God finally provided you with a collision of truth that stopped it all. What happened?

Erin: Absolutely. I think I was twenty-five or twenty-six. I’d come out to Pennsylvania to visit Dannah. They were starting a Christian high school, and I wanted to be a part of that. Before I came, I experienced the worst nighttime panic attack I’d ever had in my life, just couldn’t breathe, couldn’t get over it, was really oppressed.

And so flippantly I mentioned it to Dannah that I’d had that experience. She said, “We need to pray about that. We need to pray for deliverance.” She called some friends of hers, and we prayed together. I just thought, “You know, I’ve prayed about this before.” I didn’t expect much to come of it.

They began to talk about my father and I thought, “I am so over this. This happened so long ago. That is not what this is about. I don’t know why we’re talking about this.” And then they began to pray that the Lord would reveal specific lies that I was believing.

And I just broke as the lies were identified. Things like, “Everybody leaves.” Things like,“There’s something about me that people eventually discover, and they will abandon me.” Things like, “There is something wrong with you.”

As each lie was identified, part of the hardness of my heart and part of my struggle began to fall off in chunks, because then they would pray that Jesus would reveal His truth to counteract that lie.

Scriptures just were brought to my mind and brought to their minds, and we would pray through each lie. And I was delivered. I went to sleep that night, and didn’t have a nightmare for the first time in years.

I sometimes still have them when I’m facing a time of great spiritual warfare, but know what it is and know how to pray through it.

So we prayed about specific lies, and I gained freedom, and I’m free from it today.

Bob: Nancy, when you hear Erin recount that part of her life, what comes to mind for you?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, I just think what a picture, Erin, that is of how many women, younger and older, are spending their lives. If it’s not nightmares, it’s something else. There’s some area of bondage, some pattern. It’s in the mind, it’s in the emotions, it’s in the behavior and something that is keeping them in prison.

I think a lot of believers in Christ, active in the church, active in ministry, have just kind of concluded, “This is the way it will always be. It can’t be any different. I’ll never be free from this.” As I hear you, I think what hope there is for anyone. It’s the power of the truth to set us free.

Bob: Erin, I have to ask you because when the whole issue of abandonment and your dad came up you said, “I’m so over this,” in your own mind you thought you were. But you weren’t?

Erin: Sure, I was not. I thought that I was over the divorce of my parents because I was functioning normally. I was ministering. I was a whole girl in a vibrant marriage, and I felt like I was okay. But I was believing lies that could be traced back to my father leaving my family like, “Everyone leaves.”

So I maybe had reconciled the fact that my dad left and I could be okay, but I still thought everyone leaves. I thought eventually my husband would leave me and that was just the way that my story would end. So emotionally I was stable, but there were some lies that had some deep tracks in my heart.

Dannah: Erin’s story is so powerful because we didn’t mystically search for answers to those lies. It’s written down. It’s in the Word of God. We said to her, “Erin, you have to memorize Scripture. Instead of “Everyone leaves me,” you’ve got to memorize the verse that says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Over the course of weeks she retrained her mind with truth. I believe every woman listening out there can do that if there’s an area of bondage that’s popping up in her life.

Bob: Nancy, talk about this whole idea of bondage because I wonder how many women are in bondage and don’t feel like they’re in bondage, don’t think they’re in bondage. Bondage, as a term, can sound kind of severe. And a woman goes, “Well, I’m not in bondage,” but she may be without realizing it.

Nancy: You can always think of somebody who’s a worse basket case than you are, someone who is not functional. That’s what our standard comparison is so often. But that’s where we need to go the Word and say:

  • What does God intend for me?
  • What is the life of freedom and fullness and fruitfulness that Christ has for me?
  • Am I experiencing that?
  • Are there patterns?
  • Are there tracks (as you said, Erin) in my life where I’m, truth be known, not walking in freedom?”

Erin, I think your story is so precious, that God quickly delivered you from those nightmares. But I think those patterns of thinking most often don’t really vaporize and vanish overnight. There are a lot of tracks we have laid and now we need to start laying the Word and laying the truth.

I find in my own life I need, I call it “mega-doses” of Scripture. I need just these huge shots and doses and an IV in my system of the Word coming in again and again, day after day, moment by moment. I had to do that this morning, get into God’s Word and let His truth overcome my natural reason, my natural emotions, my natural inadequacies and fears and the things that are kind of the fabric of my life, and let the Word change my thinking and my heart.

I have to do that day after day after day for all of my life.

Bob: Erin, you were involved in this project, the writing of this book.

Erin: Yes, I was.

Bob: You spent a lot of time talking to a lot of teenage girls. What did you learn?

Erin: Well, they were so precious, and I enjoyed my time with them. But they were being swallowed whole by lies and half-truths. A lot of them were obvious and some of them were not so obvious. There were a lot of beauty lies that they’re believing. There are a lot of lies tied to their relationships that they’re believing, a lot of misconceptions about who God is and how He feels about them.

They were really willing to say, “This is where I struggle.” They weren’t willing to say, “I believe this lie and that lie and that lie,” because they were just like I was. They weren’t aware that they were lies.

Dannah: Some of the adult leaders and moms that sat in on these small groups, how did they respond to what they heard?

Erin: Well, it happened frequently that the adult leader—and usually these were the youth pastor’s wife or a small group leader—was moved to tears by what she heard. What I often heard was, “Erin, I picked my very best girls to come and talk to you. When I knew they were going to be a part of this book I picked the girls who I thought were most grounded in the truth. I had no idea that they were going to say the things that they said, that they felt the things that they feel, that they’re doing the things that they’re doing.”

There was a real shock about what was revealed during that time.

Nancy: I think that draws us to the conclusion also that a lot of moms would be shocked. I want to come back to the moms and say, “There are some things that are going on in your daughters’ hearts that you may not be aware of and you need to know.”

Bob: Dannah, to hear Erin talk about the cream of the crop in the Christian youth group, the girls who are grounded and who know the Word and they’re believing lies; help me put those two pieces of data together.

Dannah: Well, it’s much the same as what you heard in Erin’s story earlier, that by nature of a lie being a lie, it’s deceptive. Many of the women listening right now don’t need those two pieces to be put together because they’ve lived it; they’ve walked it like Erin did. They functioned well. They may have even served the Lord publicly. But there was just one area that they couldn’t get or two areas that they couldn’t get on target.

The book that we’ve written together is about these lies that young women believe, and many of them these moms have believed. They’re the same lies that we believed. “I’m ugly. I’m fat. I don’t have any friends.” Even though they have fifty. They follow each other in flocks and packs, but they don’t have any friends. “No one likes me.”

Yet the consequences that our girls are facing . . . What Erin heard that’s different is that the consequences have much higher stakes. They’re binging. They’re purging. They’re cutting. They’re struggling with secret sexual addictions and things like that that we didn’t so much struggle with twenty, thirty years ago. We struggled with the depression. We threw ourselves on our bed and wanted to not leave our room all day on Saturday. But we didn’t turn to these other things.

So if moms hear anything today, I hope that they can hear that the same emotions that they struggled with when they were fifteen or sixteen are what their daughter is struggling with, and she’s going to be okay. But if you don’t intervene and start to introduce her to truth, the stakes and the consequences are much more complicated today.

Nancy: I think, too, we need to emphasize that there are things going on in the hearts and in the lives of some of these girls that their mothers do not realize. I talked within the last several days with a mom in front of her daughter. The daughter was sharing with me what God had been doing in her life. This is a teenage girl in a godly Christian home, committed Christian parents and a daughter who, by all appearances, had it together spiritually. But here’s the daughter telling me in front of her mother, “I was living a lie.”

Now it wasn’t in terms of egregious, overt behaviors. But there was a disconnect between her life at home as this model Christian teenage girl involved in her youth group and in a home schooling family, and who she was with her friends. And God turned on the light. She came to realize it.

It came to light first when another mom came to this mom and said, “I don’t think you know who your daughter really is.” That, of course, was hard for the mom to hear. Then she goes to her daughter. The daughter’s upset. I mean, there was some upheaval here.

But the daughter is now thanking the Lord that her friend’s mom loved her enough to come to her mom and that her mom loved her enough to come to her and to say, “We need to deal with this.”

So we can bury our heads in the sand and say, “It’s not in my youth group. It’s not in my family. It’s not in my siblings. It’s not in my church.” But it is. And it may not be drug addictions, but it may be. And it may not be cutting or binging, but it may be.

It doesn’t have to be all those outward behaviors to be deadly, dangerous lies that if they’re not exposed and brought to the light and transformed now by the power of the truth are going to have implications as those girls become women.

Bob: So if a mom has two teenage daughters and she thinks, “Well, they seem to be doing well,” how can she know whether there are lies that her daughters are believing? With whom do they even have that kind of conversation? I guess they get a copy of your book and go through it together, right?

Dannah: Well, Nancy, don’t you think the test of whether a young woman is believing a lie would be, “Are you a young woman?”

Nancy: That’s right. “Are you a woman young or old?” I think for moms to recognize—what was neat in this conversation was the mom also started to be transparent in front of her daughter about some of the lies she had been believing, different ones, different implications.

But that mom got humble and honest. And I’m thinking, “Wow. This is creating a climate in this home where this young woman can be honest because her mom’s being honest.”

I think, then, parents should pray that God will bring things to light, and ask the Holy Spirit to shine the light. Dannah, I see you with your teenagers being so good at this by being able to ask questions, to listen.

I think there’s a sense in which there is nothing your children could really say that would shock you. Or you would get over it because you expect that there are issues and you want them to have the freedom to come and talk with you rather than going and talking with their friend who may not be able to point them to truth.

Dannah: Even as a woman who’s on the front lines of youth ministry . . . I work with youth, teens every day. I need crutches with my own kids. I need books. I need conferences. I need tools. And I think Lies Young Women Believe is a great tool for a mom to start conversations with her daughter and to really start to open up both of their hearts so they can have these very protective conversations together.

Bob: But there are some daughters who are thinking, “I wouldn’t go through this book with my mom. Because, Dannah, you might not freak out if your daughter told you something, but you don’t know my mom because my mom would go crazy. She’d just shut down.”

Dannah: Well, since it’s the moms listening right now, maybe we could talk about counting to ten. I mean, it’s really important that your daughter has a place that she can crash and say, “Look how bad I am.” What she’s really saying is, “Look how much grace I need. Look how much of God’s grace I need.”

If your daughter comes to you with a confession of any type, that is 90% of the battle. You need to be the prodigal’s father and run to her with open arms. There may be steps to think about later. But at that moment you just listen and hold her and love her. And that’ll open up her heart.

Bob: And if you think as a mom, “I don’t know that my daughter would come to me because in the past I’ve not done those things. She’s come to me and I’ve been quick to correct, or I’ve been quick to admonish, or I’ve freaked out.” How does a mom rebuild that bridge?

Dannah: Confess it. When I’m the mom that freaks out, I go back and say, “Lexi, I was wrong. You were right. I shouldn’t have reacted that way. And I couldn’t say it yesterday, so I’m asking you today. Can you forgive me?”

That’s, I think, what keeps rebuilding the trust with her. It’s not easy. My goodness, I think we all have a few hormones.

Nancy: I think something else I appreciated in my parents—and we had six teenagers at once in our home, three of them girls, three boys. (Talk about hormones.) But as I look back, I realize that my parents were not threatened by us looking to other people, as well, in our lives and helping put some good people around us that we could confide in and people that they knew who would reinforce their heart but that we might, at a given moment, feel more safe.

I’m glad my parents didn’t put up walls to that and felt the freedom for me to confide in—there was a couple who was on staff at our Christian school that I was close to in high school. And there were points when I shared things with them that I probably, at that moment, would not have felt the freedom to say to my parents.

If you ask me why I wouldn’t have felt the freedom, I don’t even really know why, because I don’t think my parents would have hyperventilated.

Dannah: Sometimes it’s just reverence and love for our parents and fear that we will disappoint them.

Nancy: Well, I’ll tell you for me it was pride. I’m sure that’s what it was as I think back. I didn’t want to be exposed at moments. So I think my own pride was a barrier at times to going to my parents. But there were other people that I could go to who helped point me back to building a relationship with my parents.

Dannah: I think it’s not just not building a wall between that, but sometimes pursuing that. For my daughter, right now we’re going through some issues of restoration in her life related to attitude adjustment. There are some steps that she has to take that I’ve said, “You can’t watch TV unless you ask me for this month. You have to be in bed by 10:00, and your stuff has to be laid out and organized before 10:00. No stress in the morning about that.” We’re going to try to eliminate some of these things.

But the last thing on the list is, “Meet with your mentor, Jenn, once a week, and if you want to tell her I’m mean and nasty, you’re allowed to tell her that. She is going to hold you accountable in whether not you’re doing these things and she’s going to ask you, ‘How did you talk to your mom this week?’”

So sometimes aggressively pursuing that kind of a relationship for your child is a really wise thing to do.

Erin: I think an important piece of this puzzle is for moms to not act like they always have it together. I could go to my mom and talk to her about things because I’d seen her be a train wreck. I’d seen her talk about the consequences of my dad leaving us in her own life.

A lot of moms, church-going moms especially, feel the need to act like they have it together all the time. And their daughters watch that and think, “I can’t go to my mom and tell her I don’t have it together because she is perfect, or she at least comes across perfect.”

So just being transparent in front of your daughter is such a powerful tool.

Bob: We want to continue to look at some of the specific areas where these lies are manifesting themselves in what girls believe about God or about themselves or believe about their relationships. You’ve categorized them in the book and we’re going to continue to do that. But, Erin, I appreciate you being with us, sharing your story and sharing the insights that you got as you connected with teenage girls around the writing of this book. I think it’s going to be helpful in our ongoing discussion.

Erin: I was thrilled to be here.

Leslie: Bob Lepine has been talking with Erin Davis who helped research the book Lies Young Women Believe. We’ve also been hearing from the book’s authors, Dannah Gresh and Nancy Leigh DeMoss. We want to send you this important book when you make a donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts. Start counteracting the lies girls are bombarded with every day by God’s truth.

Ask for the book when you donate by phone at 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Let’s get back to Bob and the guests with an important announcement.

Your teenage daughter has the opportunity to hear from the four speakers on today’s program.  Dannah Gresh and Erin Davis are leading the teen track at True Woman '12: Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening. It’s coming to Indianapolis next month, the 20th through the 22nd.

You’ll also hear from Bob Lepine, who will share the emcee duties with Nancy.

When you and your teen daughter come to True Woman together, you’ll both hear the main sessions from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. You’ll both worship with Keith and Kristyn Getty. Dannah says young women will get a lot out of those main talks.

Dannah: But then we’ll be pulling them aside for a few sessions to really talk to them about how this applies to them as teen young women.

  • What does it look like to be a biblical woman in the area of guys and relationships?
  • What does it look like to be a biblical young woman in the area of submission to your parents?
  • How will that relate to my relationship to my husband in the future?

Those kinds of things we’ll be looking at, using object lessons and fun teachings and biblical truths. So it’s a great opportunity to just bring your daughter to the conference, enjoy it with her and also make sure that she gets some great spiritual meat.

Nancy: We’re asking God to use this conference to help launch a movement of biblical womanhood not just in our generation, but in the next as well.

Leslie: I hope you’ll make plans for True Woman '12 for you and your daughter or other young women in your life. It’s coming to Indianapolis September 20-22. For all the details, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Every parent wonders, how do I teach my daughter to say no to peer pressure? Nancy and Dannah will be back to talk about it tomorrow. Please be here 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.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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