Today's review: Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.
When I was little, I liked going to church, for the most part. Even in college I sought out a church that I could temporarily call "home." I joined a Christian sorority and attended the weekly meetings of a couple of different faith groups on campus. It was really in college where I began my search for what it meant to be "a woman of God" in earnest. I still don't know what that means all the time. For awhile, I thought it meant that I had to look perfect, serve my husband, and throw myself into volunteering at my church. You burn out quick trying to do all of this. Blogs and other social-media didn't help. My message from them (what I was hearing, not necessarily what they were saying): if you're not an organic-eating, home-schooling, church volunteering, husband-serving, perfect-looking woman then you are doing something wrong. I began to question myself a little. Was it okay that I worked and had a family? Was it okay that I asked my husband to do some (okay, a lot) of the cooking and cleaning? Was it okay if I said "no" to something at church? And finally I learned that the answer to all three questions is "yes."
Captivating is one of the first books I've read that really talks about what it truly means to be "a woman of God." This quote in particular really resonated with me: "The culture of women in the church today is crippled by some very pervasive lies. 'To be spiritual is to be busy. To be spiritual is to be disciplined. To be spiritual is to be dutiful.' No, to be spiritual is to be in a Romance with God. The desire to be romanced lies deep in the heart of every woman. It is for such that you were made," (129).
That's right-- to be a "woman of God" means to let God romance you. And that's just part of what the Eldredges (mostly Stasi) talk about in this book. Throughout the entire book, the Eldredges talk of how God wants women to live out those three basic desires we have as little girls: to be romanced (to be desired), to be part of a great adventure, and to be beautiful.
No matter where you are as a woman in life, God sees you as beautiful. He is captivated by your beauty. He desires you to live the life you were born to live and designed to live-- to take part in the great adventure he has planned for you (whether it's motherhood, starting a business, traveling, being a missionary, volunteering, continuing your education, etc.). For those women who are married-- it's no coincidence that these desires line up with the desires most men have as little boys-- for a battle to fight, for adventure, and for a beauty to rescue. One of the things my husband told me when we first got married was that he'd always fight for me, for us (he'd just read John Eldredge's book, Wild at Heart).
I love the way these desires fit together when a man and woman are in a relationship. In Stasi's words, "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. And a man in the presence of a real woman loves being a man. Her beauty arouses him to play the man; it draws out his strength. She inspires him to be a hero," (19).
And if you're not married...not to worry. Married or not, God fights for you every day. He wants you. He wants to rescue you. He wants to be a part of your great adventure.
Those lies I believed at one point in time or another are just that-- lies. God created me to go on the adventure of teaching middle school kids. And I love it. He created me for the shared adventures of marriage and parenthood. And I love both. That's who I am-- it's not how every woman has to be. It feels wonderful to know that Eric finds me beautiful all the time (and tells me all the time) and even better to know that God finds me beautiful too. If you read my Freedom post, you know that God has rescued me...and that wasn't the first time. And when Eric helps out with cooking and cleaning...he's definitely my hero (he's my hero for other reasons too though).
So to the women out there reading this-- know that you are beautiful, you are desired, and God has big plans for you.