Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: Captivating

Last year, around this time, someone recommended John Eldridge's The Sacred Romance. This year, a friend recommended John and Stasi Eldridge's book, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul. These two books are very similar in their goal. They aim to direct the reader back to the lover of their soul, the Lord, and to awaken the romance between God and his beloved.

In Captivating, the focus falls on women. I can agree with the authors that the primary desire women have is to be romanced, to be desired by another. I had a bit more difficulty with the question they selected for women, "Am I lovely?" (as opposed to the man's question of "Am I enough?") I suppose I feel that I've never cared one way or the other whether I am lovely, beautiful, feminine enough or "captivating." However, I can attest that I have always wanted to be desired by another ... often painfully so.

I found a good deal of truth within these pages. The authors plead with women to recognize their loveliness in the eyes of God and to see Him seeking them for Himself. They ask women to stop attempting to avoid pain by remaining hidden or unavailable (two dances I know all too well). We desire safety and do whatever we think it takes to get it.

I loved their quote from Frederick Buechner:

"To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do - to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst - is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is far more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed."

John and Stasi encourage the reader to be authentic and to look to God to supply all needs instead of looking to the men around us or to our own ability to fend for ourselves. They write:

"We cannot have intimacy with God or anyone else if we stay hidden and offer only who we think we ought to be or what we believe is wanted."

Far too often, I fall into that trap. I play the game of trying to fit whatever mold I think is expected of me. I spend far too much time damning myself for not being what or who I think I am expected to be. Indeed, I needed their bold reminder of Satan's desire to disarm me with internal doubts. I loved this quote:

"You have an irreplaceable role to play.... Your lingering disbelief (may it be fading away) that anything important hangs on your life is only evidence of the long assault on your heart by the one who knows who you could be and fears you."

I found their descriptions of our possible interactions with our spouse to be convicting. Their prescription for arousing Adam (to be the hero that you need him to be) is simple: "Need him. And believe in him."

I found myself wishing I had daughters to share their advice with when they suggested how a young woman should behave when being courted with the possibility of marriage:

"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. Look at his track record with other women. Is there anything to be concerned about there?... does he have close friends - and what are they like as men? Can he hold down a job? Is he walking with God in a real and intimate way? Is he facing the wounds of his own life...? Is he headed somewhere with his life?... Your heart is a treasure and we want you to offer it only to a man who is worthy and ready to handle it well."

The authors present the argument that a woman's femininity awakens masculine strength and, conversely, a good man's strength drives and opens a woman to be beautiful and alluring.

This book was an excellent reminder to center my heart on His love for me, while still living out the life He is inviting and calling me to.

1 comment:

Elizabeth A. said...

I spend far too much time damning myself for not being what or who I think I am expected to be. Indeed, I needed their bold reminder of Satan's desire to disarm me with internal doubts.

I believe this to be a problem for many women, especially wives and mothers. I find I struggle with this much more when I feel depression looming.