Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: For a long time Paula Hendricks had some inaccurate ideas about what marriage would be like. At work one day . . .

Paula Hendricks: I passed a guy on the stairs who had just gotten married and returned from his honeymoon. I remember asking him how he was, and his response was something like, “Uh, not great. I’m not having a very good day.” I remember honestly being shocked, like, “He is married! How could he not be having a good day?”

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, July 2 2014.

In the month of July, you’re getting a chance to meet the authors in the True Woman line of books. Yesterday, Nancy began an interview with one of those authors, and she’s here for part two.

Nancy: My friend Paula Hendricks and one of our Revive Our Hearts team members has written a fabulous little book here for teenage girls called Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl.

Boy, I’m so glad, Paula, that you’ve written this. Thank you for talking about it with us on Revive Our Hearts, because I just think this is addressing a huge need, a huge situation. I’m not sure it’s been any different in any era, and yet today it seems that there is such an obsession with a highly sexualized environment and culture that maybe it is as great a need as ever.

You’ve been really honest, and you’re winsome and engaging in the way that you write. I think teenage girls are going to love this book. Maybe if you’re a mom, you may want to get somebody else to give this book to your daughter, unless you’re sure she will value getting it from you, but I think youth directors . . . We just gave a case of these to the girls in our ministry, the teenage gals who serve on our road teams. I think it’s just going to have a huge impact.

So thank you for writing it and sharing your journey from neediness to freedom in this book.

Paula: My pleasure, Nancy, and thank you for doing an editorial pass through it. I feel like you helped me enormously as well in the writing of this book.

Nancy: Well, it was a privilege but also an eye-opener for me. One of the things I think as I read something like this is, I thank the Lord I’m not in my twenties or teens. There’s some real hard aspects of all of that, and you’ve captured that, and you’ve been honest about it.

I just want to start, for those maybe who are a little fuddy-duddy, like I am. What do you mean by “boy-crazy”? Just to be really clear here, what defines “boy-crazy” as you think about it?

Paula: Well, I really think it’s a focus issue. For me, “boy-craziness” was, boys were what consumed my life and consumed my thoughts. I have written out just several questions for girls to help them discern if they’re “boy-crazy” or not or how “boy-crazy” they are.

Nancy: So some signs that you might be “boy-crazy”.

Paula: Yes.

Nancy: So what are some of those signs?

Paula: This is not exhaustive, but this is really autobiographical, and I have been all of these things or done all of these things.

Nancy: So give us a sampling of those, that list.

Paula: One of the questions that I ask girls is: In a room full of people, do you always know where "he" is?

Most of my life I would walk into a room. It could be full of fifty people, and instantly, I could spot my crush. I would be standing there, engaging in a conversation with you, Nancy, smiling and laughing, but not really thinking about you at all—just thinking, What is he thinking of me right now? Do I look fun? Do I look cute?

Nancy: And wanting to catch his attention.

Paula: Yes.

Nancy: What’s another evidence that you might be “boy-crazy”?

Paula: One is: Do you often dress to catch a guy’s attention? What’s your motivation for wearing what you’re wearing?

Nancy: I see here this question: Are boys your number one favorite topic of conversation with your friends? That seems to be a huge thing with a lot of young women, teenagers, twenty-somethings, and some older women as well.

Paula: Yes. I remember not just with my friends talking about them, but whenever I would get together with older people. The first question I would always ask was: “How did you get together with your husband?” As I would listen to their story, I would compare my current situation with theirs and either get hope from their story or be crushed from their story.

Nancy: Okay—sign of “boy-craziness.” What’s another one?

Paula: Do you believe you would finally be completely happy if you had a boyfriend?

I remember, it was here, Nancy. I was in my early twenties, and I passed a guy on the stairs who had just gotten married and returned from his honeymoon. I remember asking him how he was, and his response was something like, “Uh, not great. I’m not having a very good day.” And I remember honestly being shocked, like, “He is married! How could he not be having a good day?” Because my belief was, as soon as you get into a relationship, that is “Wow! Your life has begun!”

Nancy: By the way, it’s not just teenage girls who have some of these thoughts.

Paula: Oh, no.

Nancy: I know single women in their thirties, forties, fifties, older who still kind of have it in their head that if they could just be married, that they really would be happy; they wouldn’t be sad anymore.

Paula: Yes. Another thing I ask girls is, "Would you be willing to get a total makeover for a guy?” And I’m not talking about the hair, makeup, new clothes kind, but “I’ll change who I am at my core if that’s what it takes to get you.”

Some girls might not be that extreme, but I know that throughout my life, I would always try to figure out: “Who did I think this guy wanted?” If he was really outgoing, then I thought, Oh, well, surely, I must be too boring for him. I need to step it up a notch, and I need to smile big and laugh and be extra gregarious.

And if at the time I liked a shy guy, then I would think, Oh, well, he must think I’m totally immature. I need to tone it down and act a bit older.

Nancy: So this was something that was on your mind—all the time?

Paula: 24/7, yes.

Nancy: Thinking about guys, thinking about how to attract guys, thinking about what you looked like to guys . . .

Paula: Yes.

Nancy: It really colored everything you did and put you on a merry-go-round, of sorts, through your younger years. Describe what that merry-go-round was like.

Paula: Yes. Well, I would spot a cute guy, and I would begin to dream about him. Then I would do whatever it took to get him to notice me.

Nancy: Like what?

Paula: Like, everything from extreme things like swallowing a live goldfish—that happened in college at the encouragement of some guys.

Nancy: To get a guy to notice you?

Paula: Yes. And it’s funny, people since then have asked, “How did you think that would work? Like, that’s gross!” I said, “I can’t believe it didn’t work!” Anyway, I would do things like that.

I remember one time as a younger girl I was in a hotel. I jumped from the banister of the stairs down onto one particular stair, and, of course, I twisted my ankle, but I did that to get his attention.

Nancy: And it probably did get his attention.

Paula: Yes, it did.

Nancy: But not in the way you were hoping?

Paula: No, not in the way I hoped. So it was extreme things at points, but then it was just also things that I would have considered very normal at the time. Like, leaving him an encouraging note in his mailbox or leaving him a clever gift—just whatever it took to get me on his radar.

Nancy: Would people looking at you have said you were a flirt?

Paula: Some people would have thought I was just perfectly normal. But I do remember my aunt at Bible camp in the summer saying that I was so flirty, and I remember being so highly offended by that.

Nancy: Because you didn’t think that was a good thing?

Paula: No, and I justified it. I responded, “Well, I’m just outgoing and friendly.”

Nancy: And so you’d spot this cute guy; you’d try to get him to notice you. Where does it go from there?

Paula: Then, whenever he wouldn’t show me the love that I expected from him, I would get over him the only way I knew how, which was hating him. I could flip that switch in a second and go from thinking that he was all I wanted to thinking that he was disgusting and annoying.

In fact, I can read you one journal entry. When I was in college, I liked Kevin at the time. I wrote in my journal:

I put a picture in Kevin’s mailbox with a compliment I’d heard about him. That night I brought my pictures to supper to show him. (I’d just been on a trip to Israel.) I casually asked who he had invited to the Jr./Sr. banquet. I could feel my smile and movements freeze as he told me her name is Alicia. She’s very popular. My heart went cold. He kept making corny jokes while looking at my photo album. I told him he was annoying. I’d already begun hating him—the only way I knew to recover my heart. I was dull and numb the whole night and went to bed with no hope.

I’m sure to you, Nancy, that sounds so melodramatic, but it was absolutely true. I had no hope. All my hope was based on my circumstances and what I could see and how the guys responded to me.

Nancy: It sounded pretty quickly in some cases . . . from adoring this guy and doing whatever it took to get his attention, and then it turns when the affection is not returned.

Paula: Yes. Then the next step on my merry-go-round cycle was to pick another cute guy, which was never hard—there were always plenty around. Then I’d begin the cycle all over again.

Nancy: Did the guys you noticed and tried to get their attention, did sometimes they give you the attention you felt you wanted?

Paula: Yes. It gave me hope. It fueled me. It made me want to keep going and keep flirting so I could get some more of that attention.

I think a lot of times girls and guys use each other to feel good, and I think there were probably a lot of times where I was using guys to feel good about myself, and they were using me to feel good about themselves.

Nancy: And what’s wrong with that?

Paula: It’s very self-serving and not at all loving. You think about the fact that God made us in His image, and He is love. The two greatest things He’s called us to is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then to love others as ourselves. I was not thinking at all about them and how they might feel. I couldn’t care less. It was all about me.

Nancy: Do you remember your first heartbreak?

Paula: Absolutely. Yes. My first heartbreak was with Mike. I was in eighth grade, and we started to, at the encouragement of my friends in school . . . My friends were, like, “Oh, it’s no big deal if you go behind your parents’ backs because you’re not doing anything. It’s just going to be sitting by him at lunch.” So they talked me into it. We dated for about a month, and then school was let out for the summer.

Nancy: You dated—in eighth grade?

Paula: Eighth grade.

Nancy: How did you date?

Paula: We passed notes back and forth during school.

Nancy: So this was a mutual attention to each other.

Paula: Yes.

Nancy: But your parents would not have approved of that?

Paula: No, no, they wouldn’t have. When I look back at the notes (I’ve kept a lot of them), it’s just amazing to me. He didn’t know who I was at all, and I didn’t know who he was at all. It’s just, “You’re beautiful. I like you.”

But anyway, school let out for the summer, and because my parents were very strict, I wasn’t able to go into town to see him. So he knew he wouldn’t see me for three months. One night he called me up—well, actually, he didn’t call me because if a guy called me, my parents would be asking some major questions. So he had friend, a girl friend call me, and then he got on the phone.

He proceeded to tell me that he was afraid that he was going to cheat on me that summer if he didn’t see me for three whole months, and so he said, “I love you.” I had never heard those words from a guy before—I’d heard them from my dad, but not from someone outside my family. He said that in the context of breaking up with me. 

Nancy: “I love you, but . . .”

Paula: “I love you, but bye.” Which isn’t love at all. Love absolutely—if it had been true love—would have waited, but it wasn’t.

Nancy: And so what happened to your heart at that point?

Paula: Oh, I just remember getting off the phone and just crying and being devastated and just not understanding how I could be so close and having him tell me he loved me and then have him leave my life.

Nancy: Now, some people might say, “Well, that kind of stuff just happens. That’s Junior High, and kids don’t know what real love is. They’re going to have these kinds of crushes, and they’re going to pass notes and sit next to each other at lunch, but that’s not that big a deal. I mean, that just kids will be kids.”

Thinking of what that did in your heart, this series of crushes and disappointments and heartbreaks, was there something more dangerous about that than innocent?

Paula: Yes. In fact, I would say that eighth grade year, he and multiple of my friends were having sex with other people in the eighth grade. And today, that’s happening a lot younger. So even while on the outside you can say, “Oh, that’s innocent. That’s just a bunch of notes.” If my parents had let me go into town, there’s no telling what actually would have happened because while there wasn’t substance, there was lust, and there were major hormones going on.

Nancy: So you were fueling and opening the door to what could have been really life destructive things in your life.

Paula: Absolutely. It was, even without the physical, it was destructive because, as we touched on yesterday, I began to believe deep lies about what made me valuable to a man. And until God’s truth really gets in and changes your mind, you begin to live out of those lies.

Nancy: And so deception was a big part of this, and we know that’s not healthy. What started as a seemingly small thing behind your parents’ backs mushroomed into some bigger things behind their backs when you got into high school.

Paula: Yes. I couldn’t believe it, but Neil, the very cute guy on the varsity football team was somehow interested in me. I remember I resisted that freshman year and just had that whole tug-of-war inside of, “I’m not going to disobey my parents.” I was very torn.

I didn’t want to sin. I knew that God said that believers are to not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. But there was also this incredible draw to him. I remember my sophomore year, I went ahead and gave in and started dating him. We just would find ways to get away and to make out in school.

Maybe there was a half-day off, where they let us out at 2:30. I would go over to his house. His parents didn’t care at all if I came to his house. And we would be in his room, making out.

It was only by God’s grace that I didn’t end up giving myself completely to him. Because I didn’t, he ended up breaking up with me for a girl who would.

Nancy: So another heartbreak?

Paula: Another heartbreak again.

I remember that time, walking into the girls’ locker room, crying, and just throwing my coat.  I was so, so angry that he could just leave me like that. I broke a button, I threw it so hard. I had that coat for many years after. It was a reminder of that.

Nancy: And probably symptomatic of what was going on in your heart, a lot of anger, disappointment, insecurity.

Paula: Yes, absolutely. I remember at one point in my life I hated all guys, absolutely hated them. But I was still drawn to them. I still wanted to be in a relationship, and yet I despised them.

Nancy: It probably affected your relationships with other girls as well, I would think.

Paula: Yes, absolutely. Because this was the grid that I saw my life through, I viewed girls as competition, and if ever another pretty girl came into the room, I felt like my beauty diminished, and I was always performing with them. That doesn’t foster good friendships with girls. That isolated me even more.

Nancy: Yes. So this whole thing of neediness, drive for approval, for love, for acceptance, for recognition from guys, it sounds like it was a really powerful undercurrent or undertow in your life. Did you sometimes feel like you just could not change, that you couldn’t get away from it?

Paula: Absolutely. I thought I would never change. I felt like I had no power over my actions. I would pray, and I would ask God to help me, and then I would go out and do the very thing that I hated. It’s what Paul talks about in Romans 7, about not doing the things he wants to do and doing the things he doesn’t want to do.

Nancy: And you made some attempts to cure the “boy-craziness.”

Paula: Well, I tried everything I could think of. I tried busying myself so I couldn’t think about them. I tried lying about them, just making up stories and kind of making them out to be worse than they were so I could trick myself into not liking them.

I thought, Man, if I could just become a nun . . .  I mean, I didn’t know any nuns. I’d maybe seen Sound of Music once in my life, but I just thought, That would be the answer—never having to see another guy. Which now I just laugh at that, because I can’t get away from my own heart in a convent, and that was where the issue really lay.

Nancy: Somebody may be listening to this and thinking, That was so extreme. Boy, what was wrong with you, Paula

But I think the truth is closer to the fact that there are a lot of young women, and some older women, who grapple with very similar issues. It may look different, and in some cases, it’s taken them further down roads that are destructive, so I think this is a huge subject. The solution isn’t to put everybody in a convent or send boys to boys’ school and girls to girls’ school, because it really is a matter of the heart.

As I think back on what I’ve heard of your journey, the transformation, which has been a process, it’s been not overnight, it began when you really cried out to the Lord in desperation, and you prayed a prayer that you had no idea how God was going to answer.

Paula: Yes. You’re right, Nancy. There were a lot of times when I cried, but I wasn’t crying for the right reasons. I was crying because this was incredibly painful to me, and I was sick and tired of being hurt. But as the Lord just continued to patiently pursue me, there came a point when He caused me to cry out to Him—as it talks about in Corinthians, “not with worldly sorrow that just leads to grief, but with godly sorrow, leading to repentance.”

I began to slowly, very slowly realize that I was gypping God of the worship and the love that He deserved by giving it all to these guys.

Some people would say, “How could you call ‘boy-craziness’ sin?” But as I look at my life and what an incredible idol it was, it was sin. It was far less than what God intended for me.

Nancy: How do you liken it to an idol?

Paula: I had a friend describe an idol to me this way: They said, “An idol is anything that you think will save you from what would be your ‘functional hell’.” And I put that in quotes. So, for me, my “hell” was imagining life without someone who loved me, without a close relationship with a guy. And so the idol, that little "g" god that I worshiped and loved and pursued with everything in me was guys.

Nancy: And the Scripture talks about the consequences of pursuing after small "g" gods.

Paula: Yes. Psalm 16:4 says, “The sorrows of those who run after another god will multiply.” And I love that word multiply because there is this multiplying effect—you just get in deeper and deeper and deeper when you pursue anyone for satisfaction other than God.

I love that verse. At the end of that chapter, it actually tells us the solution to any of our idols. The psalmist is talking to God, and He says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

So you’re right, Nancy, in saying we all have our idols. Yours might be different from mine, but we all have something that we look to that we think will satisfy us when this God who made us is where we will find fullness of joy.

Nancy: I love that contrast in Psalm 16 about those who run after another god—little "g"—their sorrows will multiply. We think that little "g" god is what’s going to make us happy. You felt like boys were going to make you happy.

Paula: And at times they did, for a little tiny, tiny bit.

Nancy: But that pursuit of other gods also multiplied your pain, your disappointment, your heartache. What you didn’t know was there was a greater love that was pursuing you, that was what your heart was made for, what you were made for, and that was the big "G" God. He wanted to give you mountains and springs of joy and blessings that you thought you were going to get in some other place.

Paula: Yes. It amazes me, Nancy, because, as I have the perspective now of thirty years. I look back, and I see how, even in my mess, in my turning from Him and turning toward these little "g" gods, He was using that ultimately to draw me to Himself and to reveal His love to me.

Nancy: Even the pain.

Paula: Yes. The pain, my sin, all of the junk and the mess.

Nancy: Because that’s what makes us candidates for grace, isn’t it?

Paula: Yes.

Nancy: And if we didn’t have the failure, the pain, the consequences, the sorrows . . .

Paula: We wouldn’t need a Rescuer.

Nancy: Right. And you have found a Rescuer. You are finding a Rescuer, as I am, and as so many of our listeners are. I’m really thankful for how God has had you in this journey, from neediness to freedom, and it is a journey.

I want to continue this conversation with you as we talk about maybe in the more recent years of your young-adult life, but just another reminder about this book that Paula Hendricks has written. It’s part of the Young True Woman line of books that we’re beginning to release. It’s published by Moody Publishers, and it’s called, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom.

I think God’s going to use this book. It’s well designed. It’s accessible. Paula, you’re just a great, winsome writer, very engaging. I think God’s going to use this to set a lot of other young women free and help them on a journey from neediness to freedom.

And, as with you, that may not happen overnight—it probably won’t—but it can happen. I’ve seen the transformation in your life, and I believe God’s going to use this as a tool to bring about some deep, profound, lasting heart transformation in other women’s lives, for God’s glory. Right?

Paula: Amen. Let it be so, Lord.

Leslie: Let me tell you how to get a copy of the book Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been telling us about. It’s Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl by Paula Hendricks. We’ll send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size.

When you donate by phone, call 1–800–569–5959 and ask for the book, or donate and get your copy of the book at ReviveOurHearts.com. Tomorrow, July 3, is the final day we’ll be making this offer, and we’d love to send one book per household.  

Well, if you could ask our guest one question, what would it be? Well, you can. Paula Hendricks will participate today on the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. When you come to ReviveOurHearts.com, scroll to the end of the transcript. You can leave a comment or question, read the comments of others, and interact with Paula.

Paula will be back tomorrow to explore the issue of idolatry. When an idol is affecting your life, whether relationships or anything else, how do you replace it with worship of the Lord? Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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