“Girls at the center of teen mental health crisis.”
“Teen depression rates are rising faster for girls than boys.”
These are a few of the headlines I’ve been seeing come across my Facebook feed in the last few weeks. But this isn’t new information. Dannah Gresh of True Girl (formerly Secret Keeper Girl) has been sounding the alarm for several years about the sky-high rates of anxiety and depression among tween and teen girls. She’s been on the front lines working with young women for years. She sees how the enemy continues to entrap them with lies and understands the importance of helping these girls to know, understand, and live out God’s Truth.
That’s why her ministry produces a special event called the True Girl Pajama Party. This two-and-a-half-hour interactive show is filled with upbeat music, fun skits, and Bible teaching. It’s an opportunity for moms (or grandmothers, aunts, and friends) to have a night out with their seven- to twelve-year-old girls and teach them that there’s just one source of Truth—Jesus!
Throughout the night, girls are encouraged to not find their identity and value in boys, beauty, clothes, or social media, but to know that there’s a heavenly Father who loves them and created them to be fearfully and wonderfully made.
My Pajama Party Experience
Last November, my nine-year-old daughter and I had the opportunity to attend a True Girl Pajama Party in our hometown. Several months before the event, we watched the promo video together. It got her excited to participate in a show geared for girls her own age. Plus, she was thrilled to have the opportunity for a “girls night out,” when just she and I were able to spend time together.
As the show began, it was similar to a typical concert with bright lights, loud music, and lots of tween girls (and their moms). Yet this event was anything but typical! The underlying message of believing God’s Truth was woven into the music, skits, and fun costumes. The True Girl worship team shared how they and girls everywhere, often struggle with the labels of “unlovable,” “ugly,” and “stupid.” But when you look at God’s Word, you can rip off those labels and replace them with “loved by God,” “wonderfully made,” and “empowered by God.”
Afterward, we were given several minutes to talk and pray with our daughters, to find out how the Holy Spirit had been speaking into their hearts, and to affirm them with Scripture. By offering us this opportunity, the lesson wasn’t just some abstract message but a personal one—with real hope for the feelings and struggles our girls were experiencing.
The Perfect Complement
Several months prior to the pajama party, my daughter and I went through the Bible study Lies Girls Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. This night was the perfect complement to everything we learned. Song after song and skit after skit reinforced the importance of rejecting Satan’s lies and embracing God’s Truth.
My daughter got to hear how other girls felt the same way that she did, and she saw the message of Truth visualized on stage. Most of all, the gospel came through crystal clear: there’s nothing we can do on our own to earn God’s favor; our salvation is all because of Jesus’ death on the cross.
A True Girl!
I walked away from the evening knowing that my daughter had heard Truth loud and clear from someone other than me. She was encouraged to live for Jesus and that she can have an impact no matter what her age. She saw young women living out their faith and serving in ministry, sacrificing time with their families, comfort (the living quarters on the bus were tiny!), and college or career plans.
Yet I also walked away realizing how much I needed this message for my own heart. As the worship team shared from Psalm 139 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, my daughter leaned over and whispered, “Mom, I don’t think you always believe that.” Her words hit home. I realized that whenever I expressed dissatisfaction with my appearance, I was choosing to believe a lie. And I need to embrace God’s Truth in that area for myself . . . and for my daughter.
My daughter tells me that someday she wants to be one of those young women on the stage at True Girl—singing, dancing, putting on costumes, and teaching younger girls about Jesus. In the meantime, she proudly wears her True Girl shirt to her public school and other places, ready to tell anyone who asks, “What’s a True Girl?” that it’s a girl who lives for Jesus.