The Pages of Captivating

I have read a few books by John Eldredge, and have loved every one of them dearly.  A few years ago, I was told to read a book titled, Captivating, by Eldredge and his wife Staci.  My initial thoughts: Captivating?  Is that some sort of Christian romance novel?  Who would title any other genre by such a name as captivating?  Written by a man, a great writer, and his wife, together?  Come on now?  Really?  And so, the book went to my bookshelf to sit for about two years, until I found a group of girls that were interested in reading it.  I suddenly became eager to dive into this supposedly life-changing book which I had been hearing so much about!  I went to the closest bookstore, bought the corresponding journal, and we began to meet every week to discuss the book, one chapter at a time.  I was, and am still captivated! 

Crown of Creation- Ezer Kenegdo!

Every woman desires three things: to be romanced, to have an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to be unveiled in her beauty. There is one question every little girl asks her father, "Am I lovely?" John and Staci provide the premises for Captivating in chapter one, and then proceed in chapter two to answer the question. "Yes! You are lovely!" So lovely in fact, that God chose to make woman the crown of His wonderfully crafted creation. The note on my facebook profile provides a synopsis of chapter two: On Creation: The final touch, the climax, the cresendo of God's masterpiece is Eve! First, what does this say about Woman? She has a vital, irreplaceable role that is so much more then simply a helper. She is man's Ezer Kenegdo, meaning "sustainer beside him." Staci describes the significance of the word ezer, "used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance (aside from that of Genesis 2:18), the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately." This can also be taken as life-sustainer and denotes the literal meaning of the word Ezer as well as the connotation of the word. Woman gives life, nurtures and cares in order to sustain life. Second, what does this say about God? God created them, man and woman, and He created them in His own image and likeness. Therefore, God is NOT neither male, nor female as we are commonly taught in our churches! Again, God is NOT gender-LESS! The image of God in me is FEMALE. God is both male AND female. What then, is the essence of a female? God is relational to the core. God has a heart for romance. God desires an irreplaceable role in our lives. God is beautiful. All these characteristics that define the essence of a woman are also true of God! Wow! To think that He is relational, and beautiful, and to know these characteristics are the part of His own being that He placed in the heart of woman is mind-boggling and awesome! All He does is good. Everything!

All that in only two chapters! I was so captivated I had to read on. A few more chapters in and I was given a new perspective of the fall, the role that Adam and Eve played together, and seperatly in that event, and how this tragic historical event has affected man and woman, and the relationships between the two genders today. There is an assault on women for their beauty and their sexuality, the very thing that God placed in the core of our being. The negative connotations of being relational, and the stigma on a woman who is unmarried and has no children. Women are either too much, or too little, or an awkward combination of both. And then, Wounded! Awe, the sorrows of my own life have returned to me once again, in the chapter titled, Wounded. I discovered, by the grace of God some new wounds. Honestly, they really weren't new, they were just another layer of wounds that corresponded to the wounds I knew were already there. There were messages I have believed about myself, the first dating as far back as 1986 when I woke up that morning to see my mother sitting in the reclining chair crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she explained some things to me about my dad. I didn't understand entirely, except that he was not coming home. The reason for that is really where the wound started, and the message I believed has affected every relationship I have had with both males and females, and even with my father. Silly, I know! Especially for a 6 year old girl. Staci exhorts her audience to consider their childhood wounds, even their adult wounds, and to ask the question, "what is the message you received as a result?" "How has this impacted your choices, your relationships, your family?" And so, there I was, a proactive reader exploring the beginning of my wounds and still eight chapters to read!

The Global Assault: Beauty is Dangerous

Continuing on to A Special Hatred, where the global assault on the female gender, and the personal assault on each female individual began.  The perpetrator of it all, the should-be subject of our anger is revealed in these powerful pages.  Yes!  There is a very real devil, and ever since we left Eden, women have been the victims of a violently brutal hatred that specifically attacks the very essence of our being- our beauty.  In every historically recognized genocide I can think of, women were violently raped by several militants in a single night, every night, some at gunpoint.  Adolescent boys were often captured and forced to either watch or participate in the raping of their own mothers.  We are not too far removed from the days Chinese women would have their feet bound, crippling them in order to keep them small and beautiful, and perhaps even crippled.  A Chinese proverb states that "women should be like water; she should take no form and have no voice."  In Hindu tradition, a woman has less value than a cow.  According to Islamic law, three men must verify a woman's story in order for her testimony to be valid.  In Africa, little girls are circumcised as young as 5 years of age.  Genital mutiliation is still practiced today as a way to prevent women from experiencing sexual pleasure.  She becomes just a passive, maimed, stone-like object in the physical act of expressing love.  Jewish women were considered property for milleniums, with no legal rights.  Western women only recently have been given their human right to vote.  More than 1 million little girls are sold into the sex slave trade a year, even as close as Silicon Valley.  In the west, women have become sex symbols with a booming billion dollar photo/film pornography industry.  On the radio every day, songs are played with lyrics describing the greatness of women- their sex appeal- as if our sexuality is the only thing we can offer to the world.  This was a chapter where for a moment, I forgot my own wound, and was caught up in a fierce anger by such an outrageous, and even acceptable assault on women all over the world!

Healing to Come: Relationships to Thrive

Staci didn't let me forget my own wounds for too long.  Before I knew it, she was coaching me, cheering me on to a place of healing, love, and acceptance in my Creator.  I found myself strong, and willing to continue in this lifelong battle and I found strength in the love bestowed me by God.  God Romance.  Father God.  God Protects.  God calls us Beautiful.  God Loves. 

Captivating is not just a book to read lightly.  Captivating is filled with new ways to wonder about our glorious Creator.  It is a journey that explores the deeper things concerning women: the emotions, the pains, the business of meeting the demands of life.  It answers the questions we have about why we dip our feet ever so slightly into so many things rather than into simply doing one thing well.  Captivating is a call to action, a call to prayer, and a call to healing. 

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