Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review - CAPTIVATING by John and Stasi Eldredge


I have wanted to share with you about CAPTIVATING - UNVEILING THE MYSTERY OF A WOMAN'S SOUL, and the effect that it has had on me, for a long time. I was a little apprehensive about reading it at first because...for #1 - I thought that it was a book that I had received as a gift a long time ago that turned out to be very New Agey and that I had gotten rid of once before, but it wasn't the book that I thought it was, and #2 - Because I had heard bad reviews about the authors of this book, John and Stasi Eldredge...but, a dear friend had recommended it to me, so I got on www.half.com and ordered a copy of it.

Now, before I start, I will say that there are a couple of things about the book that I definitely do not like, but, I'm not here to focus on the negatives. I want to share the positives. This book did more, in just a few days, to help get me past some of the things that have held me in bondage for years...some of them since childhood...than all the other stuff I've read over the years put together. It's been several months since reading it now and I'm STILL free! It was the bridge that finally got the stuff that I already knew in my head down into heart, and it truly made a difference in my life. I stand in awe of what the Lord has done!

And I will say this, too...

It was during this same time period that the Lord Himself brought a beautiful Christian lady into my life that made a HUGE impact in my life. She's not even aware of what she has done, but, through her own experiences, her openness about them, and her willingness to share, she helped me to overcome something that I NEVER thought I'd never get over. I didn't believe it was even possible, but praise the Lord! It was all during this same time period that the Lord, through this book (CAPTIVATING) and the writings of my friend, delivered me from a whole bunch of baggage that I have carried around in my heart and life for many, many years...and it feels so good to finally be free of them!

Instead of trying to tell you more about the book and its effect on me, I'm just going to share a few quotes from it...

(page 13) "Remember twirling skirts? Most little girls go through a season when they will not wear anything if it does not twirl (and if it sparkles, so much the better). Hours and hours of endless play result from giving little girls a box filled with hats, scarves, necklaces, and clothes. Dime store beads are priceless jewels; hand-me-down pumps are glass slippers. Grandma's nightie, a ballroom gown. Once dressed, they dance around the house or preen in front of a mirror. Their young hearts intuitively want to know they are lovely. Some will ask with words,  "Am I lovely" Others will simply ask with their eyes. Verbal or not, whether wearing a shimmery dress or covered in mud, all little girls want to know."

 (page 41) "One of the deepest ways a woman bears the image of God is in her mystery. By "mystery" we don't mean "forever beyond your knowing," but "something to be explored." "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter," says the book of Proverbs, "to search out a matter is the glory of kings" (25:2). God yearns to be known. But he wants to be sought after by those who would know him. He says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). There is dgnity here; God does not throw himself at any passerby. He is no harlot. If you would know him you must love him; you must seek him with your whole heart."

(page 45) "...most women doubt very much that they have any genuine beauty to unveil. It is, in fact, our deepest doubt. When it comes to the issues surrounding beauty, we vacillate between striving and resignation. New diets, new outfits, new hair color. Work out; work on your life; try this discipline or that new program for self-improvement. Oh, forget it. Who cares anyway? Put up a shield and get on with life. Hide. Hide in busyness; hide in church activities; hide in depression. There is nothing captivating about me."

(page 51) "She needs no one. She is in charge -- "on top of things constantly." She is a woman who knows how to get what she wants. (Some of us might even admire that!) But consider this -- there is nothing merciful about her, nothing tender, and certainly nothing vulnerable. She has forsaken essential aspects of her femininity."

(page 54) " Sadly, desolate women also tend to hide their true selves. We are certain that if others really knew us, they wouldn't like us --- and we can't risk the loss of a relationship."

(pages 56 and 57) Whether we tend to dominate and control, or withdraw in our desolation and hid, 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 "allow" ourselves a second helping of ice cream or a super-sized something when we are lonely. We move into a fantasy world to find some water for our thirsty hearts. Romance novels (a billion-dollar industry), soap operas, talk shows, gossip, the myriads of women's magazines all feed an inner life of relational dreaming and voyeurism that substitutes -- for a while -- for the real thing. But none of these really satisfy, and so we find ourselves trying to fill the remaining emptiness with our little indulgences (we call them "bad habits").  Brent Curtis calls them our "little affairs of the heart." They are what we give our hearts away to instead of giving them to the heart of God."

(pages 64 and 65) "You cannot be alive very long without being wounded. The sun rises, the stars follow their courses, the waves roll in crashing against the rocks, and we are wounded. Broken hearts cannot long be avoided in this beautiful yet dangerous world we live in. This is not Eden. Not even close. We are not living in the world our souls were made for. Something's rotten in the state of Denmark and in our own backyards as we journey through the unknown terrain of the moments and months that make up our lives."

"Take a deep look into the eyes of anyone and behind the smile or the fear, you will find pain. And most people are in more pain than even they realize. Sorrow is not a stranger to any of us, though only a few have learned that it is not our enemy either. Because we are the ones loved by the God, the King of kings, Jesus himself, who came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free, we can take a look back. We can take his hand and remember. We must remember if we would not be held prisoner to the wounds and the messages we received growing up."

"The horror that abusive fathers inflict on their daughters wounds their souls to their very core. It breaks their hearts, ushers in shame and ambivalence and a host of defensive strategies that shut down our feminine hearts. But at least the assault is obvious. The pain that absent fathers inflict on their daughters is damaging as well, but far harder to see."

(page 73) "As a result of the wounds we receive growing up, we come to believe that some part of us, maybe every part of us, is marred. Shame enters in and makes its crippling home deep within our hearts. Shame is what makes us look away, so we avoid eye contact with strangers and friends. Shame is that feeling that haunts us, the sense that if someone really knew us, they would shake their heads in disgust and run away. Shame makes us feel, no believe, that we do not measure up -- not to the world's standards, the church's standards, or our own."

"Others seem to master their lives, but shame grips our hearts and pins them down, ever ready to point out our failures and judge our worth. We are lacking. We know we are not all that we long to be, all that God longs for us to be, but instead of coming up for grace-filled air and asking God what he things of us, shame keeps us pinned down and gasping, believing that we deserve to suffocate. If we were not deemed worthy of love as children, it is incredibly difficult to believe we are worth loving as adults. Shame says we are unworthy, broken, and beyond repair."


(Rebecca speaking here...) I could go on and on with these quotes...there are so many of them that are good and they go straight to the heart, but I will end with these...


(page 195) "Ladies, you are the Bride of Christ...and the Bride of Christ is a warring bride."

"Now, often the hardest person to fight for is...yourself. But you must. Your heart is needed. You must be present and engaged in order to love well and fight on behalf of others. Without you, much will be lost. It is time to take a stand and to stand firm. We are at war. You are needed."

(pages 217 and 218) "There is a scene near the end of the film Anna and the King I wish I could now play for you. Let me describe it."

"The setting is nineteenth-century Siam, a tiny but beautiful Asian country still in the grips of its ancient past. Anna, an English woman living in Siam as a tutor to the king's many offspring, has helped King Mangkut prepare for a state dinner. He wants to show the British that his country is ready to enter into the affairs of the world, so the dinner is given in the English style -- silverware, tablecloths, candlelight, and, at the end of the meal, ballroom dancing."

"When the feast is over and it comes time for the first dance, the king stands and extends his hand to Anna. He invites her to dance with him. He fixes his gaze upon her and is distracted by nothing and no one else. He waits for her response. She is clearly surprised, taken aback, but has the grace to respond and stand. As they walk past the long table, the king's eyes never stray from hers, a smile playing on his lips. Other are upset that he has chosen her. Some watch with contempt, others with pleasure. It is of no consequence to the king or to Anna."

"Anna came to the ball prepared. She was beautiful in a striking gown that shimmered like starlight. She spent hours getting herself ready -- her hair, her dress, her heart. As they read the dance floor, Anna expresses her fear of dancing with the King before the eyes of others. "We wouldn't want to end up in a heap," she says. His answer to her questioning heart? "I am King. I will lead."

"Jesus is extending his hand to you.  He is inviting you to dance with him. He asks, "May I have this dance...every day of your life?" His gaze is fixed on you. He is captivated by your beauty. He is smiling. He cares nothing of the opinion of others. He is standing. He will lead. He waits for your response."

"My lover spoke and said to me, Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me" (Song of Solomon 2:10).

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