Captivating - Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul
About two months after I broke up with my boyfriend, I reached for the book Captivating - Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge. This was the second time I have read this book. It challenged me just as much this time as it did the first, but I was able to take more away from it this time around. The first time I read it, I was a freshman in undergrad. My small group read and discussed it.
John and Stasi delve into the heart of being a woman and discuss very challenging topics. My guess is that the parts of the book that challenge me are different than the ones that challenge you. A critique I have with this book, as helpful as it is, is that I have found it more meaningful and helpful having had some dating experiences. Single women who have not had dating experiences (and might not feel called to) may struggle with how the book unabashedly interprets and relates women, their role, and their identity against that of man. That’s not to say that the authors do not value nor think any less of single women. Several times throughout the book they go to great lengths to specifically point out how, in their view, single ladies can take and apply concepts that have been discussed.
I absolutely love how beauty is completely embraced within the first chapter. The world, indeed even the Church, grapples with beauty. God is a God of massive and indescribable beauty. All one has to do is look around the world He has created to see it. Flowers abound with a vast array of colors, sizes, shapes, and scents, especially during the spring and summer months. Sunrises and sunsets burst forth with color. The varied climates and geographic regions of the earth boast of very different kinds of beauty - verdant rolling hills and mountains have a rich lushness about them while jagged, rugged precipices of the southwestern United States have a stark roughness. And let us not forget about the beauty of a rainbow after a storm. We are very comfortable looking at the beauty in nature, accepting and appreciating it, and in turn imagining and praising the splendor and majesty of God.
What about the beauty of a woman? I think that is why so many girls and women, myself included, love weddings and dream of their own wedding. Being a bride means that you are unabashedly allowed, no, expected to don a gorgeous gown (hopefully of your dreams) and do your hair, nails, and makeup so that you look exquisite. It does not stop there, though. You are absolutely adored and delighted in by your groom. (First looks, anyone?) And all of your guests -your closest friends and family - also revel in your beauty. The bride’s beauty is accepted and delighted in in a way that may only happen that one time in all of her life.
John and Stasi urge us to embrace women’s beauty. Accept it. Delight in it. God has made each woman with her own unique beauty. He has given it to her to reflect His beauty in the world so that others may see her and praise Him. I know it is not always easy accepting our own beauty, ladies. And even when we have, it is still hard to offer it to the world. I want to encourage you today to discover and embrace one aspect of yourself that is beautiful. And men, it means more than you know when you acknowledge and delight in our beauty.
Captivating also highlights the fact that God made human beings male and female. Some people are women and others are men. Even though the differences are contrasted, they are celebrated for what they are. Women are invited to explore what it means to be feminine and are, perhaps, even given permission to be feminine. The journey to be a woman after God’s own heart is often fraught with challenges, hurts, and dangers untold. Peace, healing, and truth are the results of God’s transformational work. On page 188, I underlined, ‘She declares herself “no man” and fighting as a woman, slays her enemy.” I am deeply encouraged to live out in this world the fact that I am a woman. It matters. It matters so profoundly.
How are you embracing your femininity or masculinity as you follow Christ? How has Captivating (or Wild at Heart) spoken to you?
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