I love to read. I always have. I used to read a book a day, no problem. Nowadays, I can at least read a book in a week, or over the weekend. However, when my godsister recommended I read, Captivating, written by Jon & Stasi Eldredge, she said to me, I have to read it small doses. I can’t read it all the way through, but when I pick it up, it is always at a point where I need to read. To be quite frank, I thought, There is no such book! To be honest, This is said book! I began reading this book a MONTH ago, and am only half way through, because yesterday, I forced myself to power through – I need to go back, and really allow some of the powered through portions to be reread and marinated…
When I first began reading the book, I thought, She was mistaken, this isn’t for me, I’m a divorcee. I’m single. I’m not looking for a relationship, this doesn’t apply. Then, OUCH! Weren’t they discussing areas of marriage to which I was familiar? Put the book down, this hurts. No, I can do this, it isn’t about marriage – even if it were, it’s okay if it hurts, tears are cleansing, right? That’s the lie you tell the kids. But there is so much truth to that statement. But then, I’m hit with ideas I’ve never known, truths foreign to me, and stories that hit so close to home, are these more tears? I let them flow.
As a little girl, and remember seeing this in my little girls, don’t they all want to know, Am I lovely? I tell my girls everyday, “You’re so lovely!” They blush and giggle, at 9 and almost 13. I expound upon the beauty I see. What makes them lovely in my sight, and His. I build them up before they leave the house for school. I build them up when come home. I build them up before they lay their heads to rest. Never do I want them to question, Am I lovely? Because, my dears, you are so very lovely!
Little boys, and their fear of failure, so evident in my son. He is moved to tears that he won’t allow to fall when I ask him, Are you afraid that you are a failure? He responds with a shaky yet sure, Yes. It pains my heart, the book was right! How did I not see this in my ex-husbands? As I build my son, I wonder where the fear, and feelings of failure derive… He is a stellar student, he is well-rounded, an athlete, he has never failed at anything. My son, it pains me to see that you think you are a failure, when all I have seen is success.
My interpretation: But then, we are reminded of The Fall, back in the Garden of Eden. Such has been the fate of women and men ever since. Men suffer fear of failure, and women we would have an enmity with the serpent, the Evil One. His fall occurred long before ours. Before his fall, he was the most beautiful being of all. Now, when woman was created, she was created in the image of God, and was lovely. She had a beauty to which none could compare. The Evil One, in the guise of a serpent, beguiled the woman, and contributed to the fall of man and woman. Thus began the tragic love stories that have continued to play out.
They were naked and ashamed. Adam blamed the woman. When I consider these two statements, how must that feel to be looked at by your love, your other half and feel ashamed. I have been there. The need to cover yourself, turn off the lights. More than the physical, the emotional. To hide how you truly feel because you are ashamed, or are afraid. This too, is the fate of man and woman after the fall. But how many relationships are lost? How many throw in the towel? How many walk away? Contributing to a woman’s fear of abandonment. Maybe she will leave first, telling herself, it’s for the best. Reading this book, I have looked at myself, looked at my past relationships… How could I not see, you were afraid of failing. If we could have only talked, could things have changed? One thing I read which I found to be so very true, “Men are either violent or passive,” (Eldredge, 2005). Now, in only one man I have seen both. He swung on a pendulum. Both extremes reinforced preconceived ideas I held about myself, that were driven in early in childhood. Isn’t funny how we tend to seek out truths about ourselves, whether we wish to believe them or not. My sister once said, “We get involved in relationships with people that are on the same level that we are.” It sort of reminded me of an old quote, “We marry the person who is most available at the time we are most vulnerable.” Whatever the case, Yes, Sure, I did that.
Some takeaways that strike me, and I have found to be so true:
- “Woman is cursed with loneliness (relational heartache)…”
I can’t speak for other women, I can only speak for myself. However, I know how loneliness feels. I know how it feels when you are in a relationship, and you feel as though you are unable to speak with your spouse, you can go just so far, then there is a wall put up, you are done. You are left feeling so alone.
Then, maybe you have female friends, maybe you don’t. Even in the company of other women, you are left feeling so lonely. At least, that’s my experience. I have a few close female friends. They make me feel not quite so lonely. There is a wide age difference between us, we don’t see each other, except a few times a year, yet I wonder what keeps us from reaching out to each other when we need each other the most?
- “We hide behind our makeup. We hide behind our humor. We hide our truest selves and offer only what we believe is wanted, what is safe.”
There was a time when I plastered my face with makeup – right after my ex-husband left me the first time. I felt prettier, somehow. I still use humor as a cover for hurt, nervousness, you name it! Truth be told, I didn’t even realize that I hid behind humor. Someone pointed this out to me, as I was telling of a rather grave event, I managed to weave humor into my tale. In the midst of tears, laughter. In a way, I believe this is my truest self, the world prefers the dark and dirty, I prefer the light. But then, aren’t I playing it safe? I say I am an open book, glossing over the heavy, dark parts with humor to lighten the mood.
- “…we lost ourselves in our work or at church or in some sort of service.”
I found myself, once upon a time, not so long ago… Lost, buried, in work and service. Work consumed me – I just love my job! The lie I told myself and others. Spent all of my free time at the church, or serving others – gave myself no time. I needed to feel useful, lest my existence really amount to nothing at all. I couldn’t let the lies and wounds of my past come to have a true meaning. I couldn’t let the words he said manifest. I couldn’t let his abandonment creep in and destroy. In this serving, I will find some meaning, and someone will come to need me.
- “If a woman is comfortable with her own femininity, her beauty, her strength, then the chances are good that her daughter will be too.”
The statement above – nothing short of POWERFUL. As a mother to two daughters I am well aware that watch my every move – the way I react to situations, the way I carry myself. For my gals to be secure, I must be secure. For my gals to know that they are lovely despite what the world tells them, shouldn’t I be lovely? And content in that as well. They tell me that they want to be like me – that’s the best compliment of all.
I have not made it all the way through the book… I have had to put it down… As I said earlier, there are parts I need to revisit… But, as I reflect, one thing rings true, women are most certainly CAPTIVATING! Never have I seen a woman who was not absolutely beautiful. We should not hide our beauty, our femininity, our strength. Our daughters need us as teachers. They need our love. We must show them the way. I recommend this book for all women to read. If you have, tell me about it!
Eldredge, John & Stasi. (2005). Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul.