Monday, November 20, 2006


I've been hearing about John and Stasi Eldredge's book Captivating for quite some time now, and have had it sitting on the top of my fridge waiting for me to get around to read it. As so often happens with things on the top of the refrigerator, I forgot all about it for weeks, and then rediscovered it, at just the right time.

Have you ever heard the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear"? Well, that has been true for me so many times that I basically expect it now. When my heart and mind are ready to learn something and needing direction, I happen upon a book, sermon, web site, conversation, or something that helps me move along my path and shine some light on the situation.

I read John Eldgredge's book Wild at Heart a few years ago and sort of liked it, and sort of had no idea what on earth he was talking about. The concepts gave me a slight foothold on some new ways of thinking, and a little itch that was never really satisfied. Well, that book was written to men, about men. No wonder I didn't completely understand it. Captivating is for women. And it got my attention right from the start.

One of the first things i loved about this book is when Stasi shares the observation that most messages for women (and especially often in books for Christian women) are these:

1. You are too much.
2. You are not enough.

That is So. True.

Everything I've complained about in the books Christian women go for so easily are centered on these two ideas. Everything about you is wrong and going in the wrong direction. All of your desires, thoughts, and feelings are much too big for the little box you should be living in. And, everything that you *should* be doing.....well, you are falling short.

The sad punchline is that by following most of the advice given in these books, women will continue to "fail" these standards. Why? Because the books are lies. And Captivating is giving me some insight into what the truth is.

One major truth that this book discusses is a woman's God-given desire to be captivating. To be loved, adored, desired, admired, and worthy of it all. Wow! So many things that we've been telling ourselves not to want, think about, or need.

I needed this book so much right now. It's been a hard year. After already internalizing many messages in years past that others did not respect or value me in the ways that I would like to be, I took a huge blow this year when someone that I thought I was close to let me know that I was not valuable enough to deserve a part in her life. After 12 years of friendship.

Although I have come to a place of peace with the loss of that relationship, what I haven't been able to come to peace with is the *pain* that comes from knowing that someone I trusted and would have been a loyal friend to for the rest of my life considered me to be disposable. I took the risk of showing my strengths and weaknesses, the good and the painful stuff in me to this person....and she decided that she wasn't interested in being a part of that any more.

Probably most women have experienced this. I had an acquaintance sitting in my living room about a month ago because she was here to pick up her daughter. This woman shared with me a very painful thing that she has gone through this year. During the course of the conversation I asked her if she had a close friend that she could confide in about this stuff. Her answer? Not really. She talks to her sister some, but basically she's had friends that she trusted and then got burned by. She said, "After you get burned a couple of times, it seems to risky to have friends."

So we choose to be alone.

I have felt the same way. It doesn't seem like people have the time to develop relationships, and of those that do, they seem painfully sure to break out hearts. When we marry and have children we know that we will forever be vulnerable to pain in relation to those we are bound to in our family. Pain from something bad happening to one of them, pain of loss when someone dies, or pain if the relationship is difficult or disappointing in some way. But, this is our family. We are bound for better or worse.

With friendships, those are optional. Do we want to sign up for more pain? Do we want to take the risk of being disposable? Do we want to trust someone with our junk, and see if they will still consider us worthy of a piece of their life?

Frankly, no I don't. I don't do well with gut-wrenching pain. I don't do well with people deciding that I'm worthless.

The trick is that for me to not have significant relationships in my life, would cause me to live life as a fraud.

I'm MADE for relationship. I'm a person that longs for deep, abiding relationships. I love meaningful conversation and a meaningful life. For me to purposely insulate myself from the potential pain of relationships would mean I'd have to sell out who I am. But it seems to go hand in hand with disappointment, rejection, and pain.

I'm not done with the book yet, and it is a little bit hard, painful, and sad to read through it. But I think it's a really valuable book for women. Particularly Christian women who have been scolded and scolded and stuffed into some false God Box for most of their life. I may write more about it later after I've finished it.

Have you read Captivating? I'd love to hear your impressions.


Mimi said...

Wow, it sounds really good.

B said...

I read this last year. I also thought it was very good, though I don't remember it well anymore.....

Oh, I so feel for you with what you are going through with this friend disposing of you. I am so struggling with something like that too. A sibling who dumped me, after I had pedestalized (new word, huh?) her my whole life. Now, after 5 months, I still struggle with it and like you, I hurt to find friendships that I can truly be ME. I'm also a relationship sort of girl and I need friends, BUT to put myself in that vulnerable spot again....eeck, scary, too much to think about. I'm even feeling shaky with the other relationships in my family.... what if THEY turn on me too? I just want to hide at times and this Thanksgiving, ugh, I'm just dreading having to be around these family members that have castrated me from the family.

Whew, long response, sorry about that. Too bad that we didn't live close to one another, we could get together and try to trust one another enough to start a good face-to-face friendship. ;)

Anonymous said...

Please please please post a list some day about the other books you have found helpful. You know I've picked up some pretty negative ones in the past, and I'm much happier now that I don't read them anymore. :) Happy Thanksgiving!


owlhaven said...

This sounds like a really good book!

(Oh, why do you tempt me? Books are such a weakness for me...)

Mary, mom to many

DollyMama said...

B, I agree--why is it that the people that want to be friends never live near one another?

Katy--I have been so sad to not have a blog of yours to visit! How are things going for you and your little baby?

Books that have been beneficial to me:
I will have to think about that some more.

Mary, if you want something to make you feel less tempted and more obligated.... ;) I think this is a great book for parents of daughters to read as well. I have asked my husband to read this after I'm done with it. I think it will be good for him to learn what this book has to say about the female experience, as it were.

Katy said...

We're good...on Mon I'll be about 20 weeks and we get to see if all is well (and maybe if the nursery will be pink or blue). I hope to get past the migraine stage soon though! I want to blog again...just have be running around a lot lately. We are moving this Saturday. Hopefully, after that things will settle a bit. :)