The First Lie We Tell Girls

IMG_0310In about five short minutes, I have legally and theoretically raised three daughters into adulthood. As Gretchen Rubin says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” They were toddlers with adorably intractable curls just a heartbeat ago.

Raising girls is something dear to my heart, both because its been my job for twenty-five years and because women and their lot in this world make me passionate. Sometimes passionately excited, sometimes passionately furious, but passionate.

You may be a parent of girls or not. You may be a parent of boys, or not a parent at all. Maybe a teacher or a youth leader or an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or neighbor. In any case, you almost certainly have an influence on girls and the way they see themselves in the world, or on the boys who see them and the way they do.

Raising Courageous Girls

So this summer series is going to focus on girls—how can we equip girls who are ready for what it takes to be a Christian woman in a messed up world? What messages are we sending them, intentionally or otherwise? What do they need to know and believe? How are we helping or hurting?

But—men and parents of boys/men—hang in there, please. There is a question for you. How can we raise boys who rightly value women in their lives?

Because we all kind of know from recent news that if men aren’t on the bandwagon of respect, we’ve got trouble my friends, right here in River City. (Are you too young for that reference? I hope not. Everyone should have a working knowledge of Broadway musicals.) Men knowing starts with boys being taught.


Girls are told there are a lot of things they are supposed to be.

Be popular.

Be pretty.

Be smart.

Be sexy.

Be nice.

Be helpful.

Be sweet.

Be . . . whatever we think you need to be. “We” being TV, church, school, family, friends, Facebook, etc. With these messages in their heads, girls get their motivation mixed up. A lot.

They become the commodities we teach them they are. Trying to please whoever has the most currency in their lives, they become products, packaged for the consumer with the highest value bid.

If we want to unravel the lies we tell our girls, we have to start here. How have we lied to them about what they should be?

To unravel the lies, let’s go back to the original lie. The one told in the garden of Eden.

You are not enough the way you are. The way God made you is deficient. You need to grasp for something else. Anything else.

And so Eve grasped. Not because she was hungry for fruit. Because she was hungry for being more.

Women, being made in the image of God is so enough. It’s beyond comprehension enough. Yet still, we look around us for someone else to validate that we are being something more.

If we don’t even know what we’re supposed to be, how on earth should we expect someone else to? Why are we asking other people to validate who we are when we don’t have a clue? It’s like asking a stranger along the road directions for where we’re going and then having to admit we don’t really have a destination. Just give me directions—any directions.

And so the strangers create the persona they want us to be, and we conform, because we have never believed that the imago dei is enough.

As if we could ever be more than that.


What is the image of God?

It is to be a co-creator, an imaginative force for goodness in the world.

It is to crave relationship—to know we can be more together than alone.

It is to know good when we see it and name it so.

It is to be a creator of order and light and hope.

It is to reconcile. Constantly. Everything. We have one job.

That’s the first lie. The lie that we have to be more than we already are—the image of God. Sometimes the image is marred, sometimes hidden, sometimes covered in layers of junk we wish we had never accumulated. But it is there—it cannot be taken away. And it is enough. Let’s start there.

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