Sunday, January 8, 2012

So, I have a few recommendations - Part One

I recently finished re-reading Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge for about the sixth time. I can't help it. It seems like every time I re-read it, it brings something new to life inside of me. It's a book about how woman is the "Crown of Creation"; the icing on the cake of God's masterpiece. It addresses every self-loathing thought every woman has ever had; those feelings of not being good enough, of not being beautiful enough, of not being captivating. As well as the feeling we get of being too much and not enough, all at the same time. It also addresses what we look for in men, what we need in men, and what we should require of the men in our lives. Now, before you start thinking it's just a woman, who probably doesn't live by a word she preaches, sitting there giving you false hope of what life could's not. One of the most attention-keeping things about it, is that it's a husband and wife writing. She gives a woman's perspective on these issues, then he jumps in with a man's views, fears, and reasons why they do what they do.

It never fails, no matter how many times I read it, there are parts that always bring me to tears. I can personally connect with about 97% of the book, and I can think of so many women in my life that it would be such a benefit to. I personally think every woman should read it, and if you're in a serious relationship, your man should read it too! Brad has about one chapter left and it has been making such a difference in our relationship since he began reading it. This last go round, I read through it with a highlighter in hand. Everything I felt described, or applied to, an area of our relationship....I highlighted. So, as he's been reading through it, he knows that those particular areas are very important to me. I'm not a very confrontational person, so that has been a very useful tool.

Here are a few of the parts I highlighted:

A woman in the presence of a good man, a real man, loves being a woman. His strength allows her feminine heart to flourish. His pursuit draws out her beauty.

Woman is cursed with loneliness (relational heartache), with the urge to control (especially her man), and with the dominance of men (which is not how things were meant to be, and we are not saying it is a good thing - it is the fruit of the Fall and a sad fact of history)...Aren't your deepest worries and heartaches relational - aren't they connected to someone?...We are not inviting - we are guarded. Most of our energy is spent trying to hide our true selves, and control our worlds to have some sense of security...When a woman falls from grace, what is most deeply marred is her tender vulnerability, beauty that invites to life. She becomes a dominating, controlling woman - or a desolate, needy, mousy woman. Or some odd combination of both, depending on her circumstances.

We hide behind our makeup. We hide behind our humor. We hide with angry silences and punishing withdrawals. We hide our truest selves and offer only what we believe is wanted, what is safe. We act in self-protective ways and refuse to offer what we truly see, believe, and know. We will not risk rejection or looking like a fool. 

Whether we tend to dominate and control, or withdraw in our desolation and hide, still the ache remains. The deep longings in our hearts as women just won't go away. And so we indulge. We buy ourselves something nice when we aren't feeling appreciated...We imagine meaningful conversations or difficult ones where we speak brilliantly...Where do you go instead of to God when the ache of your heart begins to make itself known? Spending too much money, gambling, bingeing, purging, shopping, drinking, working, cleaning, exercising, too many movies, sitcoms, talk shows, even our negative emotions can become indulgences. 

Even if you can't relate to those last few, please read the following carefully. It is crucial for a woman to know.

Satan fell because of his beauty. Now his heart for revenge is to assault beauty. He destroys it in the natural world wherever he can. But most especially, he hates Eve [woman]...She is captivating, uniquely glorious, and he cannot be. She is the incarnation of the Beauty of God. More than anything else in all creation, she embodies the Beauty of God. She allures the world to God. He hates it with a jealously we can only imagine...The Evil One also hates Eve because she gives life. Women give birth, not men. Women nourish life. And they also bring life into the world soulfully, relationally, spiritually - in everything they touch...Eve is his greatest human threat, for she brings life. She is a lifesaver and a life giver...Eve incarnates the Beauty of God and she gives life to the world. Satan's bitter heart cannot bear it. He assaults her with a special hatred....He is the one who has dogged your heels with shame and self-doubt and accusation. He is the one who offers the false comforters to you in order to deepen your bondage. He is the one who has done these things in order to prevent your restoration. For that is what he fears. He fears who you are; what you are; what you might become. He fears your beauty and your life-giving heart. You really won't understand your life as a woman until you understand this: You are passionately loved by the God of the universe. You are passionately hated by His Enemy.

"You are passionately loved by the God of the universe." Wow. That sentence, in particular, brings me to tears every time. How amazing is that? How often has that thought even crossed your mind? Those ten words alone should give you such a different outlook on life. Here are the next few sentences:

And so, dear heart, it is time for your restoration. For there is One greater than your Enemy. One who has sought you out from the beginning of time. He has come to heal your broken heart and restore your feminine soul. Let us turn now to him.

Here are a few more parts that stood out to me...regarding men:

A woman becomes beautiful when she knows she's loved. Cut off from love, rejected, no one pursuing her, something in a woman wilts like a flower no one waters anymore. She withers into resignation, duty, and shame. The radiance of her countenance goes out, as if a light has been turned off...As women we long to be loved in a certain way, a way unique to our femininity. We long for romance...Our hearts yearn to be loved intimately, personally, and yes, romantically. We are created to be the object of desire and affection of one who is totally and completely in love with us.

The essence of a man is Strength. A man is meant to be the incarnation - our experience in human form - of our Warrior God. A God who comes through for us...Isn't that what we, as women, long to experience from our man, and from the men in our lives?...We long for the protection masculine strength offers. To have them shield us from physical harm, yes. But also to have them shield us from emotional harm...Strength is what the world longs to experience from a man.

Be careful you do not offer too much of yourself to a man until you have good, solid evidence that he is a strong man willing to commit. Is he walking with God in a real and intimate way? Is he facing the wounds of his own life?...A lot of questions, but your heart is a treasure...offer it only to a man who is worthy and ready to handle it well.

Hopefully this gave you enough to go out and grab the book. It's important to me that every girl/woman I know read it....I wish I would have when I was a teenager! So I leave you with this: You are beautiful. You are worthy of love. The God of the universe finds you lovely...He wants a relationship with you. He is captivated by you. Settle for nothing less, my loves.