A Player in the Game of Love
About the Guest
Is someone in your home boy-crazy? Paula Hendricks, a recovering boy-crazy girl, reminisces about her teen years when she was desperate for the boys' attention and eager to shed her church girl persona. Seeing non-Christian boys behind her parents' back, Paula shares how flirting with the wrong kind of boys, coupled with a strained relationship with her dad, could have potentially lead her down some dark, difficult paths. By God's grace, however, Paula got her breakthrough.
Paula Hendricks reminisces about her teen years when she was desperate for the boys’ attention and eager to shed her church girl persona. By God’s grace, however, Paula got her breakthrough.
A Player in the Game of Love
Bob: Paula Hendricks grew up as a self-described boy-crazy girl. When she was a young teenager, she was going out on dates; and her parents had no idea.
Paula: Twelve, thirteen, fourteen were my really brutal years as far as dating non-Christians—behind their backs—and finding it to be the way Psalm 16:4 says, “The sorrows of those who run after another god will multiply.” I began to experience that in my early teens.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Being a boy-crazy girl caused a lot of heartache for Paula Hendricks. She visits with us today to share some of her experiences. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You raised four daughters through their teen years; right?
Dennis: Sure did.
Bob: I know all four of—
Dennis: White knuckle time too. [Laughter]
Bob: Were any of the four girls—did they go through a phase of being boy-crazy?
Dennis: Behind our backs. Oh, yes.
Bob: You were not aware of?
Dennis: I think all four of them somehow, someway found a way to “go out.” We used to call it going steady—
Dennis: —with a guy—without us knowing about it. You know, they are probably going to correct me on this; but I seem to recall a good bit of boy-craziness—as parents—just trying to kind of ride it out. I think our guest on today’s broadcast can identify with what I just mentioned. Paula Hendricks joins us. You snuck around; didn’t you?
Paula: I sure did.
Dennis: Yes, your parents never knew it.
Paula: Not a clue.
Dennis: Well, we’ll get to that in a second. Paula Hendricks works for Revive Our Hearts™—which is a good friend of ours. Nancy Leigh DeMoss gives leadership to a women’s ministry there. You work in writing and editorial—work on a blog—specifically, for what age group?
Paula: Well, my favorite part of the job is blogging for teens on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
Dennis: Undoubtedly, a lot of your teens get the advice that’s in your book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. When did this malady first strike you?
Paula: Early. I remember lying in bed, night after night, probably as a seven-/eight-year-old, praying: “God, please, let me marry Chadwick Chandler Chatterton. Please let me marry Chadwick Chandler Chatterton.” I can’t even say that anymore. [Laughter]
Bob: Do you know where he is?
Paula: Well, you know what? I changed the names to protect the innocent.
Bob: Okay, that’s good.
Paula: So, yes.
Dennis: Well, Paula, I can’t help but think that—if you were a boy-crazy girl, back when you were seven/eight/nine—how much worse do you think it is today for young ladies, growing up in homes today, because of all the excess of media that they have?
Paula: I can’t imagine.
I know, for me, what really fed it was reading Christian romance novels—which you would think, “Oh, that’s completely harmless”; but I would kind of flip ahead to all the really romantic parts—
Bob: Are you talking about—because I’m thinking of things like Love Comes Softly and those kinds of books.
Paula: Yes; yes. My parents were very careful about what I read—much to my frustration—but they thought Christian books would be fine. But I was just going anywhere I could to kind of feed that.
Bob: And what was it about those scenes in those novels that you just found thrilling?
Paula: The girl was always loved by the guy; and so, the girl always came out on top. When I was young, I was pretty dorky. I had glasses that covered half my face and were as thick as Krispy Kreme Doughnuts®. [Laughter] I had to wear super modest—we called them culottes. I just really did not fit in the public school scene. So, I longed to be loved and pursued.
Dennis: And young ladies are told, if they are beautiful, they are going to be liked.
You tell a great story in your book about what happened to you as you were beginning to think of yourself as being beautiful.
Paula: Yes, well, I came to believe a couple of lies the day of my eighth-grade field trip. I remember a friend brought in a pair of itty bitty shorts. I tried them on in the bathroom. Four or five times—I would take them off and put them on because I knew there was no way on earth my dad would ever let me out of the house in these—but I was at school—so, I thought: “My parents won’t know. I’ll wear my big jeans over it. Then, when I get on the bus, I’ll take it off.”
So, I did it; and that was the first day that I held hands with a boy. I connected dots and believed: “If I can just be beautiful enough, then, I’ll be loved.” I also came to believe that being beautiful enough meant showing off my body.
Bob: Now, did you have any qualms of conscience? I mean—
Paula: Oh, yes.
Bob: Mom and Dad—if they found out, did you go home feeling guilty at night?
Paula: Oh, for sure.
I remember lying in bed, asking God to forgive me. I thought, “I want to do right, but I can’t!” So, there was no true repentance—which is doing a 180 and returning to God. I was planning on continuing.
Dennis: Tell us about the home you grew up in, from a spiritual perspective.
Dennis: Were you raised in a home where the parents believed in Jesus Christ and implanted that faith in you?
Paula: Wow, yes; but it was kind of segregated. There would be times when we would spend time together, as a family, reading the Bible every morning and every evening; and we’d go to church Wednesdays and Sundays. So, we looked very, very spiritual; but I didn’t really get how God had everything to do with my everyday life. It just kind of seemed like: “Okay, now, we go have God time. Okay, now, we go back to real life.”
Dennis: And so, how long was it before you would say you were born-again or came into a relationship with Jesus Christ, which ultimately changed your heart?
Paula: It changed everything about me. And you know, I thought that I was saved, as a little girl, when I was—I think I was four. I started praying every single night, “Jesus, please forgive me for my sins”; but I’d never really came to understand the true gospel until my early 20’s. I thought that the gospel was that Jesus died for my sins, and I have to be perfect now and please Him or He will be mad at me.
Dennis: So, all the way through adolescence, as you were relating to the opposite sex, you kind of had God parked off / segmented into another area of your life. The dating area was pretty much your own.
Dennis: You called your own shots.
Paula: Absolutely. I was in control.
Bob: What had your mom and dad taught you about boys, and about how you should get along with them, and about when it was appropriate to start dating them? Did you have rules like that, growing up?
Paula: It felt like—to me, at the time—everything was a rule.
And I just knew I couldn’t date boys. I didn’t really know when I could. There wasn’t a lot of conversation about it. It was just kind of off-limits. Like you said, Dennis, I just found ways to go behind their backs.
Dennis: So, how old were you at that time when you couldn’t date?
Paula: I was probably twelve/thirteen. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen were my really brutal years as far as dating non-Christians—behind their backs—and finding it to be the way Psalm 16:4 says, “The sorrows of those who run after another god will multiply.” I began to experience that in my early teens.
Bob: You know, I remember the middle school years—the junior high years—because that was, in my life, when paring off started to happen. The cool kids started to have boyfriends and girlfriends.
Bob: I remember thinking, “I don’t really care who she is—I would just like a girlfriend.” That’s kind of the same experience you had; right?
Paula: Yes, my first boyfriend was a druggie; and I knew it. I didn’t care because he liked me. He actually liked me, when I first had those huge glasses—which just blew me away.
Bob: Now, wait, a druggie—how old were you?
Paula: I was in eighth grade—so, is that twelve?
Dennis: And how much older was he?
Paula: He was in the same grade.
Bob: Same grade—and he’s already into drugs.
Bob: And you knew that.
Dennis: Did he offer you drugs?
Paula: No, just passed notes.
Bob: And you’re going home at night to Mom and Dad, who don’t know anything about this, and you are writing notes or—were you calling each other at night? What was going on?
Paula: Yes—no, my parents were so, so strict—so, you couldn’t get much by them. So, it was just when we were at school—we would write notes.
Dennis: I think what I want parents to kind of take away here, at the beginning of your story, is that this happens to good kids, who are from good homes. The problem is—you can have a good kid—you shouldn’t forget, though, that his or her heart has a great desire to deceive and go around the rules.
In fact, if the rule is there, more than likely, sin will increase, in a way. I remember growing up in a solid, Christian home; yet, I found ways in junior high /—
Dennis: —high school, before I drove, to sneak around and to find a way to go hang out with a crowd I shouldn’t have been with. How long did you date the drug guy?
Paula: Well, actually, it wasn’t long at all. I think it was a month or three months. Then, what happened was—school came to an end. He ended up calling me; and then, he proceeded to tell me he was afraid he would cheat on me during the summer because he knew he wouldn’t be able to see me. So, even though he loved me—that was the first time I heard those words that I longed to hear—“I love you”—he said, “We need to break up.” So, that was the first of many, many heartbreaks.
Dennis: So, he proactively broke up with you so he wouldn’t have to cheat on you.
Paula: Yes, wasn’t that good of him? [Laughter]
Bob: What did that phone call do to you?
Paula: Wow! I just remember crying. I remember my parents asking me: “What’s the matter? Why are you so sad?” I just said, “Oh, I just miss my friends from school”; but of course, it was missing one person in particular. I just couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t understand how I could be so close to the one thing that I thought would make me happy; and then, have it just vanish.
Bob: You know, Dennis has written a book for parents of boys called Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys. Were you an aggressive girl?
Paula: I wasn’t aggressive in the sense of I never asked someone out; but I was very aggressive in using my body, and my non-verbals, and everything that girls learn how to work these days.
Bob: You flirted with boys?
Paula: Oh, for sure.
Bob: So, what—
Paula: I was awesome at flirting.
Bob: What would that—I mean, in the eighth grade, how would you flirt with a boy?
Paula: I mean, I would borrow my friend’s short shorts.
I would sit certain ways. You would look at them in certain ways.
Dennis: Knowing that there were guys looking.
Paula: Oh, yes. I remember—something as simple as I would always have a huge smile on my face and laugh out loud because I thought, “I’ll be much more attractive if I look fun.” So, I wasn’t even laughing because I was truly having fun. I was laughing to play a part.
Dennis: It’s interesting, as I was reading your book, you quickly insert your relationship with your dad and tie a good bit of your boy-craziness to an absence of a relationship with your dad. Explain what was going on there.
Paula: I really have a great dad. He worked hard for our family. He was home at night, but we just missed each other. I don’t fully understand all the reasons; but he was a very strong man, and I was a very sensitive, emotional girl. So, whenever I would start to cry—which was all the time—
—I have my Kleenex here just in case I start to cry today. [Laughter] He would tell me to cut it out. So, I felt like I could never be me around my dad. I felt like I always had to be perfect. And that wasn’t who I was. So, there wasn’t a real relationship because I was just trying to be someone I felt like he wanted. I didn’t feel like he loved me.
It wasn’t—it took years for me to learn that different people show love in different ways. My dad is a real servant. He will take care of my car, or he helped me with a book report when I was in eighth grade or ninth grade. But at the time, I missed those. I just wanted him to connect with me, on an emotional level. I never remember him telling me I was beautiful. I longed to hear him say that I was beautiful.
Dennis: Yes, that was what I was going to ask you. How would you coach a dad—because now you are blogging—you’re communicating with young ladies, who are growing up, right now—what are some of the things you’ve learned that you would coach dads to do today if they’re raising a daughter?
Maybe, they’ve got a younger daughter—maybe, she’s a teenager. What exactly are they looking for from Daddy?
Paula: Well, I would say to you, father, that you are the most important man in your daughter’s life. She really will pick up big clues of who God is based on who you are. So, I would just encourage dads, “Make room for open, honest communication rather than just giving rules, top down, and not allowing any questions back.” I think that is huge.
Dennis: How did that happen in your relationship with your dad?
Paula: There wasn’t room for me to ask questions or to—it was kind of seen as defiant if I would question something. And so, I just learned to stuff it.
Dennis: Yes, but there was a breakthrough. You did have a breakthrough with your dad, later on in college.
Paula: I did. I just praise the Lord for that. I don’t know what it was, but I guess something about moving out of the house and getting a little distance. Then, my dad would come pick me up from college because I didn’t have a car.
He would drive me back home. We just had, for the first time in our lives, like really good conversations.
I think the Lord was beginning to teach me how to respect my dad because there was a whole lot of rolling my eyes and letting him know, through my non-verbals, that I really didn’t respect him or agree. So, I am so grateful for the work that God has done. I love my dad today, and he does a great job of loving me.
Bob: When you sat down to write this book, part of the Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl was confession about this relationship with your dad. You and he had to have some long talks before you wrote this, or as you were writing it, because you were about to go public with some of this; right?
Paula: Yes. I actually, probably, deliberated over Chapter 2 more than any other chapter. I worked on every single word, and I prayed over every single word. Then, by faith, I just kind of—and with great fear and trepidation—I sent it to my dad and said:
“Dad, what do you think of this chapter? If you don’t feel comfortable with it, then, I won’t include it.” Yet, I was praying, “Oh, God, please let him be okay with it because I feel like it’s so fundamental and critical in the boy-crazy cycle.”
I was just amazed. He ended up writing me back an email, like fifteen minutes later, saying: “Love you—loved this. Love what you are doing.” Something—I was like blown away.
Dennis: You had a trip with your dad that God used to kind of break through the ice and connect you two to one another.
Paula: Yes. We headed down to my aunt and uncle’s to, I think, clean out their barn. So, we were working together that weekend. I am a consummate question-asker, and I felt like my questions—I don’t think my dad understands them. I think they kind of make him uncomfortable. So, I decided not to ask any questions on that trip. It was like such a great trip.
Then, I remember getting back; and I went back to college. He ended up calling me, after that, and asking me some questions, and ending the phone call with “I love you.” I just really felt like the Lord did a lot through that.
Dennis: I used to teach a class to several hundred college students. It was called Christian Single Life. I would give a message about honoring your parents. After that message—the number of young ladies, who would come and stand in line to tell me a story, that had a similar theme but different variations—but the story was basically: “I longed to have my dad tell me he loves me and give me his heart. I don’t want his stuff. I want his time. I want his attention, and I want his affection.”
It’s interesting, in your book, you really tie your lack of getting that from your dad to kind of how you headed off in the wrong direction because you were trying to fill a void in your heart—
—that I think, really, Paula—was designed, by God, to be filled by a daddy.
Paula: Yes. I struggled a little bit with sharing it because I do agree that dads are so critical in this; and yet, I also—I love these verses in Acts 16:26, 27—where it talks about God, not only creating us, but then, choosing where we would live on the face of the earth, and determining our periods and our boundaries of our dwelling place—which I think includes, not only where we are going to live, but who we’re going to live with.
It says—this is the reason why He does it—“That they should seek God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.” I feel like, ultimately, in the end, while there were so many nights where I would cry into my pillow and beat my pillow with just anger and frustration over my relationship with my dad—
—I feel like, ultimately, it was a gift because it was what drove me to God because I wasn’t finding what I wanted in my dad.
So, to girls, who don’t have that father relationship they long for, I just want to encourage you that, ultimately, this can be a gift to drive you to your Heavenly Father—just want to encourage you that He’s not like your earthly father.
Dennis: Yes, and to not quit or to give up on your dad because those connections can be reinstated in the relationship.
Paula: For sure.
Dennis: I’ve got one thing I want you to do before we’re done here on the broadcast. I want Bob to explain to our listeners how they can get a copy of your book, but I’m going to ask you to grab your Kleenex—
Paula: Okay. Oh no! [Laughter]
Dennis: And I’m going to ask you—I’m going to give you a few moments to think about this—
Dennis: —but I’m going to give you a chance, here on national radio, to seat your dad across the table from you and to tell him how much he means to you today. Will you do that?
Paula: Yes, I will.
Bob: While you’re thinking about that, let me let our listeners know that we have copies of your book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center—great book for a mom to go through with a young teen girl—great book for any young woman to read as she thinks about “How do I live a life where God is my focus and where the attention of boys is not an encumbrance to me / not an idol to me?”
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com if you’d like to order a copy of Paula Hendricks’ book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey From Neediness to Freedom. You can order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” The book is right there. Or you can call 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Let me also mention that we have a number of resources that speak to this issue for parents: the Passport2Purity® resource; Dennis, your book—Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys.
There is just a lot of material available. So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and check it out. Again, click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” The information you need about the resources will be right there.
Now, of course, you and I are getting ready to head to Portland, Oregon, Dennis. We’ve got the I Still Do™ one-day event for couples happening there on Saturday. Really excited about getting to go up and to, once again, be with Dr. Al Mohler, and Crawford and Karen Loritts, and David Nasser, and Shaunti Feldhahn, and Ron Deal, and everybody who is going to be out for that event.
I’m excited about getting a chance to personally say, “Thank you,” to those listeners who are donors to the ministry of FamilyLife—those of you who are Legacy Partners and donate each month or those of you who get in touch with us, from time to time, and let us know that you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate you.
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Dennis: I hope listeners will get a copy of Paula’s book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. Paula, it’s been a treat to have you on the broadcast today and kind of hear your story of your relationship with your dad and how God ultimately redeemed it.
I told you to grab a Kleenex because I know you took a risk by writing in a couple of chapters about your relationship with your dad and how everything wasn’t perfect and wasn’t right. That kind of spun you off in a direction, but you’re a young lady now—a woman. I know that dads listen to adult children and their words today as never before. I’d like to just give you a chance to say to your dad what he means to you today and just address him in first person—just speak to him—and pretend Bob and I aren’t here; okay?
Well, Dad, hey, it’s me. And Dennis wanted me to pick up a Kleenex.
I did get teary when he asked me to talk to you. I just want to say:
Thanks for putting up with me for all those years—for being patient with my eye-rolling and my sighing.
Thank you for driving past Dairy Queen® at night to make sure that I was really there and keeping a very, very close eye on me because, even though I hated it at the time, I hate to think of what I would have done if you had given me free reign and the regret that I would carry today, that I don’t have to live with, because you were protective. So, I am very grateful for that.
I know that our relationship isn’t perfect. It’s still a journey, but I really couldn’t ask for a better dad. I know that I live a few hours away from you—and I’ve got great Christian men in my life who take care of me—but I just fully believe this and want you to know that I need you.
I will never stop needing you—and not just for giving me advice about my car—but I need you just to keep loving me. [Emotion in voice] I can’t tell you how much it means whenever I see on my phone that “Dad’s calling.” I can’t tell you how much it means whenever you pray for me after I share what I’m struggling with.
I’m not perfect, and you’re not perfect; but we have a perfect God who brings beauty out of brokenness. I trust Him to continue to do that, and I thank Him for you. I love you lots!
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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