Truth that Sets Your Daughter Free: Dannah Gresh
What lies might your daughter be buying into—that could change her life? Author Dannah Gresh chats about the power of a mom to protect and empower her daughter toward unmissable truths that set her free.
About the Guest
- Connect with Dannah at dannahgresh.com, and be sure to catch to her podcast.
- Grab her book, Lies Girls Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free in our shop.
- Intrigued by today's episode? Think more about the lies you might be believing in Dannah's blog post, Are You Believing Lies about Media?
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What lies might your daughter be buying into? Author Dannah Gresh chats about the power of a mom to empower her daughter toward unmissable truths.
Truth that Sets Your Daughter Free: Dannah Gresh
Truth that Sets Your Daughter Free: Dannah Gresh
Ann: What do you think was the greatest lie that I believed growing up?
Dave: Oh, I know what it was.
Dave: I’m not even going to—
Ann: Well, probably because we’ve been married so long; you’ve dealt with it this long.
Dave: I’m going to tell you what it was, and then, even if you disagree, I’m right; you’re wrong. [Laughter]
Dave: I’m just kidding!
Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: I would say, at least what I heard (especially when we first got married), was you did not think you were pretty.
Ann: Oh, you think that was the number one? I had so many! [Laughter]
Dave: That’s not it?
Ann: I just didn’t think I was worthy. And we talked about that a little bit yesterday, just because of abuse. No, I totally believed that.
Dave: Yes, I mean—
Ann: It’s because—
Dave: Those two are connected for sure, but I remember I would get so frustrated.
Ann: You’d get mad at me.
Dave: I’d say, “You’re so pretty,” or “You’re so beautiful,” and you’d say, “No, I’m not.”
Ann: I’d even say, “Don’t say that!”
Dave: I used to laugh, like, “Yes, whatever! She knows—” And then it hit me. It was years. I was like, “Oh, my goodness! She doesn’t believe it. She doesn’t know.” You really believed a lie.
Ann: I didn’t even like—
Dave: And I did not believe it was possible.
Ann: I didn’t even like you saying it.
Dave: I know.
Ann: I was like, “Just be quiet. Don’t even say that.”
Dave: So, why are we bringing this up?
Ann: Because today, we’re going to talk again with Dannah Gresh. Dannah, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Dannah: I am so glad to be back. And you are gorgeous!
Ann: [Laughing] You’re so—
Dave: Don’t you think!?
Dave: No kidding!
Dannah: Gorgeous. It’s so hilarious to me how just obvious Satan’s lies are to other people. It’s always the beautiful women that think they’re ugly; it’s always the smart guys who think they’re stupid! [Laughter] Do you know what I’m saying? Have you not noticed that?
Ann: Yes, for sure.
Dannah: But we can’t see our own deception.
Ann: And I do believe that Satan has a piece in wanting us to shut down.
Ann: He’s whispering to us, just like in the garden. He’s whispering lies, as he whispered to Adam and Eve.
Ann: “Did God really say—?”
Ann: You know, that kind of lie in Genesis.
Well, let me say, too, that Dannah is back with us in the studio. Yesterday, we talked about her book called Lies Girls Believe. It’s a workbook, really.
Ann: It’s called Lies Girls Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free.
Dave: Yes; I want to know this, Dannah: have you ever struggled with the same lie?
Dannah: Oh, terribly! I could not look in the mirror.
Dannah: To this day, I can put my mascara on without looking in the mirror, because that’s how I learned to do it in high school.
Dannah: I hated what I saw! If I saw myself in the mirror, I would be in the fetal position.
Ann: You’re so pretty!
Dannah: I did that.
Dannah: Oh, it was terrible. And do you know when it changed?
Dave: Yes, I want to know.
Dannah: In college, I started reading my Bible every day. I didn’t like—
Dave: It’s a better mirror.
Dannah: It’s a much better mirror. [Laughter]
Dave: James says—
Dannah: It’s a better mirror.
Dave: He calls it a mirror.
Dannah: Yes, exactly! And I didn’t do it because I felt ugly. I did it because I felt drawn to the Word. But one day, I walked past the mirror, and I was like, “Oh, I just looked at myself, and I didn’t melt down.” Now, I didn’t look at myself and think, “Hey, Hottie!” [Laughter] But I was able to look at myself. As the weeks went on, I thought, “It’s not that I’m not hating what I see. It’s that I actually see good in what I see.” The Word changed that lie, not by me specifically reading something about my beauty, but just by me reading the Word.
Ann: I’ve gotten into a new habit now: when I discover, “Ugh! Look at this lie I’m believing!” I’ll ask God, “God, will you show me the first time I started believing that lie?”
Ann: And He’ll answer in a lot of different ways: through His Word, or maybe a memory will pop up; but that one was an easy one. I think our listeners have heard me say it. I was 15, getting ready to have pictures taken for cheerleading, for the program.
Dave: I’m still mad about this moment!
Ann: You know, I was super-insecure at 15! But anyway, we were all getting ready in the house, and we all went out to have the pictures taken, but I forgot something in the house. When I had walked in the house earlier in the day, my friend’s mom saw me, and she said, “Oh, Ann, you look so cute!” I said, “Oh, thanks.”
But then, when I went back in the house, and everyone was gone except my friend’s mom and her sister. I could hear them talking, and they didn’t know I was in the house. I heard the sister say, “Why would you tell Ann she’s cute when she’s so ugly?”
Ann: And her mom said, “I know, but she tries hard.”
Ann: And then I went out to have my picture taken. Ever since then, I’ve thought, “I’m ugly.”
Dannah: That will leave a mark.
Dave: Yes, that will leave a mark.
Ann: “And if people tell me I’m not ugly, they’re lying.”
Dave: I want to go back there and just tear down that house! Even right now, when I hear that, I’m so mad!
Dave: Because I’ve lived with her, and she’s lived through that lie.
Ann: But I remember, I was walking with my best friend, and one time, she said, “You know, Ann? I think that what we need to do as women is gaze at God’s Word and glance at ourselves in the mirror.”
Dannah: I love it!
Ann: “But what we end up doing is we gaze at ourselves in the mirror, and we just glance sometimes at God’s Word,” if we’re even in the Word. If we’re going to do that, then we’re not going to hear the Truth of who God says we are.
There’s a verse—is it 1 Peter 3: 3-4?—that says “our beauty shouldn’t be of braided hair”—
Dannah: “—and gold jewels and fine clothes, but that of a gentle and quiet spirit.” And a challenge I give 7–12-year-old girls sometimes is, “Did you spend more time today in God’s Word, grooming your heart, making it gentle and quiet, or did you spend more time today in front of the mirror, making your hair braided or putting on cute clothes?”
And that’s something that we never really outgrow, is it?
Dannah: Because if we’re more obsessed with what we see in the mirror than what we read in the Word, the feeling of lack of beauty is going to be there.
Dannah: And I think, at the end of the day, it’s a fist fight between our Creator—who in Psalm 139 says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Ann: “Fearfully and wonderfully.”
Dannah: And then, think about this: the psalmist says, “I know it full well.”
Ann: Full well.
Dannah: And Satan looks at us and says, “I don’t want them to know they’re fearfully and wonderfully made. I want them not to know they’re made in the image of God.”
Dannah: “I want them to have amnesia and to forget!” So, for women especially, he strikes at the heart of our sense of our beauty.
Ann: So, girls are believing this lie, that they’re not beautiful?
Dannah: Oh, yes!
Ann: Maybe even they’re believing their worth comes from their outward image.
Dannah: When I was writing Lies Young Women Believe for teenage girls, we did focus groups across the country. And beautiful or not beautiful, girls believed, “I will have more worth if I’m physically beautiful.” That is a lie, because our beauty fades. Was it 1rst or 2nd Corinthians that says, “Outwardly, I’m wasting away—?”
Ann: “Wasting away; but inwardly—”
Dannah: “But inwardly.”
Ann: [Laughing] We are doing the same thing!
Dave: You two!
Ann: We’re being renewed!
Dannah: Yes! We’re being renewed day by day.
Ann: Day by day!
Dannah: If we could just grab onto that, whatever stage of life you’re in—yes, you are becoming less physically, but this physical body is not who you really are. Who you really are is your spirit and your soul! And as that is becoming stronger and more built up, even if this is fading away, you can feel your worth.
Dave: I mean, how do moms do that? You two are moms. How does a mom help guide a young woman, a girl, to stop believing the lies? Obviously, replace it with Scripture.
Dave: But how do you do that practically?
Dannah: I tell girls (in the book), “Jesus wants to be the boss of your thoughts.” And that’s biblical, right? Because we’re supposed to take every thought captive to be obedient to the voice of Christ. When we are letting ourselves feed on that Twitter feed, or that TikTok feed, or that Instagram feed, and we’re mindlessly scrolling and comparing ourselves every single time—and it’s not just 13-year-old girls, but 33-year-old moms are doing this! Right? [Laughter]—we are letting that medium be the boss of our thoughts.
Dave: Being discipled by it.
Dannah: Yes, yes. You’re being discipled by it, totally!
Dannah: And so, when Satan lied to Eve, there was one mouthpiece he used for lies, and that was a snake; but today, Satan has many mouthpieces, and many means of introducing lies to us. If we aren’t introducing our daughters to the discipline of meditating on the Word of God.
When I wrote Lies Girls Believe, I asked moms and daughters—I did focus groups; I did surveys with girls—and 70% of these girls were not reading their Bibles (eight- to twelve-year-old girls); 30% of them were.
Ann: I’m surprised 30% are reading their Bibles.
Ann: I mean, I’m glad that at least—
Dave: You thought it was lower.
Ann: I thought it was lower.
Dannah: You thought it was lower. Well, here’s the thing: we learn habits when we’re young, right? We learn to brush our teeth, to say “thank you,” to make our bed, to meet deadlines, to do our homework, all that stuff, because habits make us!
Ann: We carry them into adulthood.
Dannah: Right! Is there any more important habit than opening our Bible every day and exposing our mind to truth in a world that’s saturated with lies?
Ann: And you’re telling this to moms!
Dannah: I’m telling this to moms!
Dannah: And the moms are saying, “Well, but there’s nothing out there!” Well, when I wrote Lies Girls Believe, there wasn’t really a lot out there for eight- to twelve-year-old girls. Since then, my ministry, True Girl, has developed a subscription box where girls get daily devos every day.
Ann: Wow, that’s so good!
Dannah: And it’s written for eight- to twelve-year-old girls. I don’t care if they use my devos; I don’t care what they use. It’s really a spiritual discipline, but it’s a habit.
Ann: Yes. How would you do that—if you haven’t done that before, how would a mom go about doing that?
Dannah: Well, that’s why we created—we started writing Bible studies. Right after I wrote Lies Girls Believe, I started writing Bible studies. I’ve got three out, and I’ve got another coming out this year that are written for that age group (8 to 12) to study the whole book of Ruth, to study the whole life of Miriam, the whole life of Mary. Teaching her that—and you know how cool it is when you start studying the Word of God and you’re like, “I get it!”
Dannah: “I see something I didn’t understand before!” You get kind of drawn to it when you start to experience the power of it. I want little girls to feel that! So, we started the devos, we started the Bible studies. Those tools are available at MyTrueGirl.com, but you know, you can look online, and there are lots of different tools you can use. I do think you need tools. I mean, it’s hard for me as a—well, let’s not say my age! [Laughter] But at my age, it’s hard for me to just take my Bible sometimes.
There are times when the Lord has me just in the Word, and that’s it. But generally, I’m using a prayer journal, or I’m using a Bible study; I’m using some kind of tool. So, “tool” your daughter up! Give her the tools she needs.
Ann: Tool her up!
Dannah: Yes, even if it’s just a little diary, and you’re like, “Instead of writing about yourself like most girls do when they write in a diary, just write, ‘Dear God, Today I read this Bible verse. Here’s what I think it means.’” And just start there. It’s that simple! My mom did that for me when I was eight years old.
Dannah: And I look back and think, “What a gift! What a gift!”
Ann: That’s amazing!
Dannah: And she just handed me a Children’s Daily Bread. She said, “You’re supposed to read this every day, because you’re a Christian.” I said, “I am?” Okay. [Laughter] And I did. And I still have that pattern/habit in my life. It’s a lifeline in a world full of lies.
Ann: Let’s talk about the lies that moms believe.
Dannah: Oh, yes!
Ann: Because I’m wondering if, as moms, we get so busy; we’ve got kids going on; we’ve got work; we’ve got activities for our kids. And a mom’s thinking, “I don’t even have time to read my Bible!”
Dave: You’ve got a husband chasing you around the house, saying, “What about me?”
Ann: [Laughing] “And now you want me to get my kids to read the Bible, too?!”
Ann: “I feel all this weight.” Encourage her.
Dannah: Well, here’s what my encouragement would be: “You can not disciple your daughter to live in Truth if you are not living in Truth.” When I wrote Lies Girls Believe, I did focus groups in 11 cities. We just gathered 100 moms or so in each city, and we had these little clickers so that they could respond to me anonymously when I would ask a question, and I could measure—
Ann: Oh, that’s good!
Dannah: —what percentage of moms were answering which way.
Dannah: And I identified the fact that moms were believing lies about being a mom. One of the biggest lies about being a mom was, “I am not worthy to disciple my daughter in [fill in the blank]” (with whatever your teenage sin or trauma was). For me, it would be sexual sin. “I am not worthy of teaching my children to learn sexual integrity, because I didn’t when I was a teenager.” For other moms, it was, “I am not worthy to disciple my daughter in having a healthy body image issue, because I had an eating disorder.” “I am not adequate to disciple my daughter in substance abuse or porn or whatever, because I struggled with that thing.”
That lie, that shame, was still strangling her from discipling her daughter in Truth! If you don’t operate in Truth, and if you don’t overcome that shame from your past, you’re just going to pass it on to your daughter.
Dannah: A lot of times, they think, “If I don’t talk to her about porn,” or “If I don’t talk to her about being boy crazy,” or the thing that I struggled with, then there won’t be an opportunity for lies to present themselves. Well, really, how do you know if you don’t talk to your daughter about something? How do you know what she does or doesn’t believe?
So, I would just challenge you to get into God’s Word. If you’re feeling inadequate, insecure, insufficient—all the “ins,” really, as a mom. [Laughter]
Ann: Yes, yes.
Dannah: That means that you’re believing lies about yourself, and you need your heart to be set free. You can get into the Word. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth—we mentioned this yesterday—has a book called Lies Women Believe. It really teaches you, as an adult woman, how to process through the lies. I wrote a mom’s guide to Lies Girls Believe that I did identify (in) the top three lies moms believe.
Ann: What are they?
Dannah: Well, one of them was, “I can or can’t control what my daughter believes about [blank].”
Dannah: And that’s that—have you ever had those yo-yo days as a mom where, at the beginning of the day, you deserve a “Mom of the Year” award, but at the end of the day—
Dannah: —you were the “worst mom ever!”
Ann: Yes! Most days were like that when our kids were little.
Dannah: Yes, so you get this paralysis that, “I can control it,” or “I can’t control it.” I guess the paralysis is when you can’t control it. You get this pride of “I am in control of my daughter’s belief system.” Then, in the same day, you might also get the paralysis of, “Ugh! I’ve got nothing to contribute here!” So, that yo-yo feeling that we have as a mom was one of the lies.
“I’m not capable of discipling her in [fill in the blank], because I have sin in that area of my life.” Or here’s one of the scary ones—I think this is the scariest: “My daughter is not struggling like other girls.” When I asked moms, “Are you concerned about girls believing lies today?” eighty percent of them said, “Oh, yes!” Then I said, “Is your daughter falling prey to the lies of the culture?” Eighty percent of them said, “No!”
Dannah: And I was thinking, “Well, that’s not—that—that’s not possible!”
Dave: Those don’t go together, yes.
Dannah: So, then I started asking them questions about submission, like, “Does your daughter obey you and your husband?” And stories would come out about them being disobedient at school, treating dad like a brother instead of a father figure; and a lot of those moms were saying, “I think she’s repeating the behavior she’s seeing in me in the way they treat their dad.” And they were falling under some conviction. But there was just this overall sense that their daughter wasn’t sinning.
Dannah: Their daughter wasn’t believing the lies. And yet, when we started talking about a specific area like submission, 53% of them now said, “Oh, yes! My daughter is really struggling with lies, and I need to do something about it.” So, we need to be objective as moms.
Ann: I think that is interesting, too, because as a mom of boys—
Ann: —I can remember being with groups of women when my boys got older, and we were talking about pornography. So, I’m with moms that have boys between the ages of 14 and 19, and I remember asking, “What’s the discussion like about pornography in your home?” And the majority of the moms said, “Oh, my son doesn’t struggle. He never has struggled.” I remember telling Dave that, and he said, “Uhhh.” [Laughter]
Dannah: Yes, because—
Ann: And I remember—
Dannah: Can I say what I think about it?
Ann: Exactly! [Laughter] So, I said, “You know, I’m just going to say, statistically speaking—”
Ann: —“almost every boy that age has in this time of life.”
Ann: “In the culture that we’re living in.” But I was amazed, like, “What?! You don’t think that the world is impacting them?”
Dave: Is it denial? Is it almost like, “I don’t want to know, because then I don’t have to deal with it?”
Dannah: I think there is an element of denial. Here’s the thing: so, Adam and Eve were in this perfect garden, right? Where there had never been sin. God doesn’t say to them, “Let me tell you how ugly and gory death is.” But He does say, “Don’t eat of that tree, or you will surely die.” So, He’s not afraid to talk about the danger, right? Just not with detail.
What we fear as parents is, “If I’m going to talk to my kids about porn, they’re going to have pictures in their head of what porn is.” No, they’re not! You can say something like, “Hey, the internet has good pictures and bad pictures. I want to know if you ever see a picture that you think is a bad picture.” “Well, how will I know it’s a bad picture?” “Well, you might think, ‘Am I supposed to be seeing this?” Or you might think, “I don’t think that I would want to watch this or see this if mom were here or if dad were here.”
Ann: And this is a discussion for boys and girls.
Dannah: Oh, yes.
Dave: Oh, yes.
Dannah: There are easy ways to talk to them about warning them about that without robbing them of their innocence. That’s what God models for us in the garden of Eden, right? So, we have to be objective enough to know, “This child lives in this world, which is full of lies. And the Bible says all of us are sinners. This child’s going to fall; this child’s going to fail. I have to do everything I can to plant Truth in them so that that’s as infrequent as possible, and there’s as little brokenness as there can be.”
But I also have to be objective and realize that, just like Adam and Eve fell when they had a perfect Father, in a perfect garden, my child is going to fail. When we lose the objectivity, we’re not there. We don’t read the tell-tale signs when there are “sticky” emotions that are leading them toward acting out on a lie. And we’re not ready to run in with the grace and the warm, fur garments to comfort them the way that God did in the garden of Eden.
Ann: Yes. As I’m listening, I’m just thinking—and you probably feel this, too, Dannah—“I want to call all moms to step into this!
Ann: We’re living in a day and age—; we always have, but I just feel like at alarming rates, our girls are falling to anxiety and depression. And we, as moms, I think the place we start is on our knees. Start praying for your daughters!
Ann: And let them know you’re story of, “This is something I believed growing up. How are you doing with this lie?” Be in God’s Word. I love your admonition to “be in the Word.” You know, there are a lot of great tools out that can help us get in the Word, but also help get our kids in the Word, too.
Ann: I loved having Dannah Gresh with us today, talking about the lies girls believe.
Dave: I could tell you loved it!
Ann: I know!
Dave: I sort of wanted to get out of the way and just let you two women (you two moms) talk about these lies.
Ann: Because we need—our daughters, our granddaughters, our sisters; we need—to hear it ourselves, the Truth of what God says, and even identifying the lies.
Ann: I think that’s critical.
Dave: All of the lies you talked about, men and boys believe as well, and we need the Truth as well.
Ann: And, as I’m thinking about that, maybe you’re identifying with some of the lies as well, and maybe you’re a little older now, and you’re thinking, “Oh, man! I remember the lies I believed as a young mom, as a young woman!” Maybe even, financially, you’re in a place that you’re thinking, “I could help these younger women!” Or you’re asking the question, “Could I help these younger women?” And I’m saying, “Yes!”
We have people who are supporting us financially monthly. They become our family. We’re inviting you: become a part of the family, and help impact lives for the Kingdom of God.
Dave: I mean, we are about one thing: getting the Truth of God’s Word to families; changing families through the Truth of God’s Word. That program—programs!—was all about getting rid of lies and bringing the Truth, and that doesn’t happen without partners like you jumping in. So, thank you to those who already have!
Ann: Yes, thank you.
Dave: And to those who have never jumped in, this is your moment to say, “I want the Truth to get out to the world. I’m going to become a financial partner.”
Dave: And I thank you before you even jump in!
Shelby: That’s right, Ann. August is such a unique time to give, because when you do, we are going to send you as your “thank you” FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting® online video course, along with a fun card game called “Ferret Flush™” that you can play with your family to get to know them better. You can go online to FamilyLifeToday.com with your donation, or give us a call at 800-358-6329; again, that’s 800-F as in “family,” L as in “life,” and then the word, “TODAY.” Or you can feel free to drop us something in the mail if you’d like. Our address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, FL 32832.
And by the way, I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Dannah Gresh on FamilyLife Today. You know, Dannah has written a book called Lies Girls Believe. It’s replacing the lies that our young daughter are believing with the Truth of God’s Word, in order to set them free. You can find a copy of it at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson will be in the studio with Barbara and Stacy Reaoch. They’re going to talk about biblical wisdom for a healthier relationship with your mother-in-law or your daughter-in-law. Can’t wait to hear that. That’s coming up tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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