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During our dating years, Joe introduced me to the book “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge. Captivating takes women on a journey of exploration and discovery to find the life Christ has intended for the feminine soul. When I first received it I was intrigued at what lay behind the beautiful front cover. After reading just a few chapters, I found my heart deeply connecting with the author.
The back cover of the book reads:
Most women think they have to settle for a life of efficiency and duty, chores and errands, striving to be the women they “ought” to be, but often feeling they have failed. Sadly, too many messages for Christian women add to the pressure. “Do these ten things, and you will be a godly woman.” The effect has not been good on the feminine soul.
But her heart is still there. Sometimes when she watches a movie, sometimes in the wee hours of the night, her heart begins to speak again. A thirst rises within her to find the life she was meant to live–the life she dreamed of as a little girl.
The message of Captivating is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman–they are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offers to come now, as the Hero of your story–to rescue your feminine heart and release you to live as a woman, fully alive. A woman truly captivating!
It didn’t ever cross my mind that I would have the opportunity, or even really want to go to the conference again, simply because I had already been before. But God laid it on my heart to go again this year and to invite another dear friend of mine. I met Margie while living in Texas working on the Stork project, and Joe and I had grown very close to her and her husband. I invited Margie to the retreat, and much to my surprise, she happily said yes (it was very short notice inviting her)!
The opening session of the retreat was called “The Core Desires of a Woman’s Heart.” It felt so good to be reminded that the desires and passions that I have as a woman are designed to execute a specific role in a larger story. The first core desire of a woman is a desire to be romanced and pursued, not only by men but also by God. We long for Jesus to rescue our hearts and become our intimate lover. We long for Him to pursue us in a relationship full of danger, risk, beauty, and the unknown. All that we need to do as women is to give Him permission to woe us. As far as earthly lovers go, every woman that I have ever met longs to be romanced by someone. I sure do. We want someone to know us deeply, perhaps more than any other human. We long for a man to share life’s experiences with – the good and the bad. This is where the retreat took on new meaning for me. Being married as I heard this message spoke volumes.
The second core desire is a desire to play an irreplaceable role. I am reminded of a scene from the Lord of the Rings where Arwen is riding on horseback in an attempt to get Frodo medical help. She told Aragorn that she was the faster rider, and so she sets off to help Frodo. While riding she is pursued by the seven Black Riders. She makes it through the river and calls to the spirits for help. Frodo’s destiny depends on her, and she is the only person who is able to fulfill that role. I long for a deeper role that only I can play in the larger story God has called me to. I long to battle for those I love and for the causes I am passionate about.
The third core desire is a desire to have a beauty all of our own to unveil. Ladies, this is sooo true! Don’t we all long to be beautiful to someone? To everyone? Women were created as the crown of creation, the most beautiful thing God had ever made. Adam was incomplete without Eve. God called her Adam’s “Ezer,” his lifesaver. We are called to bring life to creation, and to have a beauty to unveil to those around us. This can be seen in any beauty magazine you pick up, at any shopping mall, and while watching young girls play dress up. Our beauty is a powerful thing! Beauty strikes the heart like nothing else.
Living from the desires of your heart is the hardest way to live. As soon as you start trying to live from your heart everyone will continually try to shut you down. Many women lose heart and trade pursuit for passivity, adventure for safety, and captivating beauty for good enough. To live from your heart is a battle. To get your heart back is all out war! We as women live under a daily sustained assault. And the barrage of enemy fire is sent to crush one thing – our identity as captivating women.
I left the weekend in Colorado reawakened to who I am as a woman. There is still quite the inner journey to continue but I am sure of one thing – God thinks I am captivating.