book review, Gender Issues

a Warrior & the Beauty

ax(Popocteptl and  Iztaccihuatl)

“In order to understand how a man receives a wound, you must understand the central truth of a boy’s journey to manhood: Masculinity is bestowed. A boy learns who he is and what he’s got from a man, or the company of men. He cannot learn it any other place. He cannot learn it from other boys, and he cannot learn it from the world of women.”

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“We think you’ll find that every woman in her heart of hearts longs for three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty. That’s what makes a woman come alive.”

lan

After reading Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge (2011) and Wild at Heart by John Eldredge (2001), I decided to write a good old fashioned book review. I am so fond of these two books and have learned so much from them. I didn’t want them to end, but grateful for what was spoken to me through them.

In each book, the authors invite us as men and women to reclaim our hearts. Purposefully masculine and feminine defined in the image of God. I love that John and Stasi affirm an innate longing that men and women have. I long to be romanced and to be a part of a great adventure. I have begun to be open to see how the Lord romances me. I believe He sends me love letters through beautiful displays of light.

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I have taken with me that my feminine heart is needed. That beauty is inviting and risky. But I can risk being vulnerable because it is in Jesus that I find my worth. That Jesus will thwart our plans so that our ways will not fill the holes in our heart, and so we will turn toward Him. That we have mishandled our wounds and allowed strongholds because of it.

I have taken with me that only masculinity can bestow masculinity. That a young man must go away to find his strength and come to offer it to a woman. That a man must find what his heart is made in order to truly live. Otherwise he will settle for cheap imitations. That God is wanting so badly for us to choose Him, to stay and talk with Him.

The questions we seek to get answered are directly reflective of the nature of our Creator. God is strong and firm, all powerful, fighter, warrior. God is a tender lover, Father, friend with open arms. He is the Lion and the Lamb. The piece that is missing is whats only found in Him. When we seek Him. When we open the door to His knocking. I often envision sitting at His feet like Mary did. She chose to stop, sit and listen. Luke 10:38-42. She simply chose to Stay.

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The two main themes discussed in each book are Questions and Wounds. Each man and each woman have a question that is to be answered. Sadly, the first person to give us an answer to our question gives us our wound also.

In Captivating, Stasi tell us that a woman’s question is Am I lovely?
In Wild at Heart, John tell us that a man’s question is Do I have what it takes?

These questions are to be answered by God only, but we always make the mistake of taking these questions to each other. We will never be lovely enough, nor have all of what it takes for each other.

Little girls play dress up. They play with frilly dresses, plastic glittery shoes, toy jewelery. Maybe they twirl around in front everyone at family gatherings. Maybe they put on a show in their living room. Do you see me? Am I beautiful? Do you delight in me? Am I lovely?

Little boys play superheros. They kill dragons, bears, or they are dragons and bears. Little boys turn anything into guns or swords. I was once cut in half with a tube of chap-stick my nephew was holding as a sword. Am I strong? Can I succeed? Do I have what it takes?

It may be easy to understand when comparing these questions to a child’s life, but are you struggling to see it from the perspective of an adult? Adult women want to be seen, to be noticed, to viewed as lovely. What are all the fairy tales, and Pretty Woman stories about? As women, we love a good make-over. In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the main character Tula is longing be delighted in. To beautiful. You know that feeling when a friend notices your new earrings or a new sweater, or when you wear your hair differently?As women we compliment each other on those small things because we know what it means on a deeper level. Adult men want to know if they have what it takes. Am I going to be successful? Can I come through? Can I pull it off? A man longs for an adventure, a battle. I mentioned the movie Gladiator in my previous blog post. For every Notebook, or Officer and a Gentleman, there is a fast-cars, shoot ’em up, blow ’em up, booms and bangs movie that men love. The movies that my dad watches and describes scene by scene to me are very different than what I would have picked to watch myself. Even sports, are geared towards men. It is all action based, win or lose. Push your body and your mind, work hard, play hard, accomplish the goal, succeed.

When we as women and men are not getting our question answered through our relationship with our Creator, we are left to answer it on our own. Our answer to the question is No. We have internalized this answer from even further back in our past. Our fathers and mothers were the first people we took our question to. There may have been one particular moment when you received your answer or it may have been a series of moments. The answer to our question may have been delivered with abuse or just poor selfish decision making.

“There’s a young boy named Charles who loved to play the piano, but his father and brothers were jocks. One day they came back from the gym to find him at the keyboard, and who knows what else had built up years of scorn and contempt in his father’s soul, but his son received both barrels: “You’re such a faggot.” ……”Charles, the artistic boy, the piano player whose father called him a “faggot”–what do you think happened there? He never played the piano again after that day. Years later, as a man in his late twenties, he does not know what to do with his life. He has no passion, cannot find a career to love. And so he cannot commit to the woman he loves, cannot marry her because he is so uncertain of himself. But of course– his heart was taken out, way back there in his story.” (Wild at Heart)

“As many little girls do, Lori took ballet lessons. She felt so pretty in her pink leotard and tights that she asked her father to please come and watch her dance. He answered her that when she was on a real stage, then he would come and watch her. As you might know, dance classes end with recitals, and so, they day did come for little Lori to dance on a real stage. Pretty in her shimmering costume, she eagerly waited and watched for her father’s arrival. He never came. Later that evening friends of her father had to carry him into the house, as he was too drunk to walk in by himself. Lori’s little-girl heart believed her dad had gone to great lengths in order not to have watch her dance.” (Captivating)

“My mom was a lonely and busy woman. When I was young I had to pretend to be sick in order to get a morsel of her attention. I remember sitting at the kitchen table as a young girl watching her make dinner when she told me for the first time–but not the last—how devastated she was when she learned that she was pregnant with me. I was the last of four children, too close together, and she wept when she found out that I, the daughter of an overwhelmed mother an absent father, was coming. You can imagine the effect that has on a little girl’s heart.” (Captivating)

What is your answer to your Question thus far in life?

Who answered your Question when you were a child?

Have you taken your Question to the opposite sex or a person you had a relationship with?

How have you mishandled your Question?

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In conclusion, these are great books to be read by men and women. I recommend reading them back to back to get their full depth. If you are feeling unfulfilled with what the World is expecting of you, or even what you think you should be in the Church, these books will give you great insight. If you are recovering from a past identity or false self, these books will take you straight back to your core. There are plenty of real-life, real-talk examples from both Stasi and John there is no way you wont be able to relate. They also tell stories regarding their family and marriage. How their answers have effected their marriage and relationship with one another, good, bad and ugly.

I also recommend these books to those that are not “Believers.” Anyone that needs healing as there is much talk about our Wounds. Anyone that enjoys studying gender roles, identity, relationships, marriage etc. Anyone feeling stuck. Anyone that wants to explore more about the nature of God and Jesus. Anyone that wants to learn how we, men and women, fit together into God’s plan. How we fit together in His heart.

These books aren’t for the Religious, but whoever wants to get closer to God. Or those that are fed up with the mixed messages and mixed emotions that come from trying to function in the World.

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Below are some songs and movie clips that portray father and mother Wounds, and the answers we believe about ourselves. Remember, life is messy, but there is beauty in the struggle.

Related:

Bitter by Andy Mineo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4h7XT1JNwk

Reflections by Mariah Carey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z7Q_cm1Tc0

The Judge movie (2014):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XLP8exes_k

Precious movie (2009): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1FnPpU9s1w

Ransomed Heart Ministries: http://www.ransomedheart.com/

http://www.girldefined.com/call-manhood-part-1

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The Cross, Transformation

the Purge

[to clear of something unclean or unwanted. to remove or eliminate. to rid (a person or thing) of something unwanted.]

I write this with hesitation. I don’t really want to write my story for all to see. Though the theme has saturated itself in my journals for years now. I am just Beautifully Broken. Put together on the outside. Adorned with lovely things. But inside this house, there is a dark room. A dark room where my soul has died more than once.
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There were times in my life that I walked into this dark room, gave the keys to someone else and allowed them to lock me inside. I became hurt, angry and bitter. Sometimes, they’d leave the keys in arms reach. After long periods of time, I’d take the keys and let myself out. I would give away the keys again and go back inside the room. Cry myself to sleep and ask myself Why does this happen to me?

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:15-20

Finding this in the Bible was life changing for me. I was stuck on super-UNfun rollercoaster,  a merry-go-round of confusion, rejection, disappointment, heartache. I may have switched from the white pony to the giraffe to the zebra or even a unicorn, but it was the same ride. I AM NOT CRAZY. I AM CRAZY. I used to tell myself, I’m smart, I’m rational, why cant I figure this out? What is wrong with me?

If youre familiar with the Myers Briggs personality types, I am a INTJ. Introvert-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging. I needed to figure this out. I needed to find the problem and solve it. I needed it to make sense. But I could not make sense of my pattern of having sex with someone I knew did not care for me, value me, respect me, or love me. I could not make sense of walking right into the burning fire and being horrified at the 3rd degree burns. I could not understand my preaching, “I’m not your night-time plaything anymore” only to find myself in his bed yet again. My overwhelming insecurity drowning me two days later like clockwork. All the texts messages and phone calls that never came, that still haven’t because in a very twisted way, I am still waiting.
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Words unspoken, misunderstood texts, and consuming thoughts have turned to prayers but often I don’t know why I’m praying or who I’m really praying for. Me? Him? My prayers have been for God to take this away. For God to just take me away. For God to open his heart to me. For God to just open his heart to anyone. For God to snatch him up and run faster than he is running from Him. For God to come and fill me like I want to be filled by him.  They fluctuate and alleviate. I change my mind about 30 times a day. Another year is about to pass by and still this IT remains.

Its been a year and half since the last time, but I always analyze the years in between now and the beginning. When it began I was 21. This Elite Daily article sums up the state of mind I was in and how it all came to happen. They’re 6 Reasons Why You’re Only His Hookup, Not His Girlfriend caught me off guard this morning when I woke up. Reading through these main points had me feeling regretful.

  • You Enabled The Hook-Up Mentality
  • You Never Told Him What You Wanted
  • You Didn’t Make Him A Priority
  • You Ignore The Signs That He’s Emotionally Unavailable
  • Why Buy The Cow?
  • He’s Just Not That Into You

I enabled the hook-up mentality by trying to be the cool-independent, I Don’t Need a Man girl. I never told him what I wanted because I didn’t want to appear needy, and what if he says No? I didn’t make him a priority because I was afraid of getting to know someone that will hurt you anyway. I ignored the signs he was emotionally unavailable because I too, shut off my emotions. He didn’t want to commit because I never said he had to. Hes just never been that into me because if he wanted to be with me, he would.

Hard truths for sure. God can forgive you if you ask. Your life can change if you allow Him to change you. But some consequences remain. You will have to face problems you would not have had to face had you not sinned.

I receive frequent emails from a relationship-speaker of sorts after visiting his website and subscribing to the newsletter . In the email today, he discusses Common Mistakes Women Make When it Comes to Sex.

“Not saying anything about what it means for you to share yourself with him because you keep telling yourself that he feels the same way you do… and you assume he wants a relationship because he wants to sleep with you

· Not saying anything about your feelings or about wanting a relationship because you thought it might “weird him out” or make it awkward

· Not knowing exactly know how you feel and what sleeping with him will mean to you until AFTER you sleep with him and a whole rush of feelings hits you like a tidal wave

If you’ve ever felt hurt because you became physical with a man and he ended up not having an interest in dating or starting a relationship, then odds are you can look back and see that one or more of the above scenarios was at play.

Of course, it doesn’t seem like it’s you who is making a mistake in these situations. It feels like THE MAN you’re with is the one who obviously doesn’t get it, and is a player for not being ready for a relationship.”

This again had me feeling regretful. Being reminded of where I went wrong oh so many years ago. Being reminded of how far from close I am with that person. How I wish I hadn’t thought I could handle casual sex. Opening up to friends through the years, I always get the same look. A look of disbelief. No, not Liana. She’s the one that holds it together when everything else is falling apart. She’s got it going on. A degree, an admirable career field. She’s definitely not crazy. Smart, Beautiful, Strong. [I’m not bragging, I promise]. Maybe they say she could have anyone she wants. She could take her pick. Why is she stuck? Why can’t she see she’s worth it? I’ve given my friends the look and the same speech. Leave him alone. Don’t text him. You’re better than that. He’s not respecting you. You deserve much more. Its never made sense to me or them.
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So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Romans 7:21-25

What a wretched woman I am. Whats good in me is Christ. I do not have it all together. Jesus died on the cross for me. So I don’t have to be a slave to sin. A slave to hooking – up with a guy that has no love for me. A slave to insecurity and fear. A slave to madness. depression. self-sabotage. failure. Wars are raging against you and I. Ones we can’t always see until it’s too late and you realize you lost though you don’t recall ever enlisting in battle.
A year and a half of a type of sobriety. Everyday I fight thoughts that lead to a relapse. I desire so desperately to do the right thing. To honor God with my body and decisions. But the pull remains.

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“This can get to be a kind of relational cocaine. A woman gets to a place where she just can’t turn down the possibility of the sexual, emotional stroke that being with a man gives.”
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“Allowing a man to enjoy sexual favor without risking real commitment in marriage invites him to remain a boy inside.”
Paula Rinehart- Sex and the Soul of a Woman

“1. Know Yourself And What You’re After
You said, “I have made the mistake of admitting to a friend that I have feelings for him.”
It’s NOT a mistake to share your feelings with a man. It IS a mistake to share your feelings with a man 1) too early and 2) in a negative context.
You set yourself up for failure by choosing and “tolerating” a situation that just doesn’t work for you.
That situation is being “ok” with a purely physical situation when in fact you need – and want – more.
Instead of being open with yourself about what YOU are truly after, you pursued this “friends with benefits” strategy to get things moving.
That’s why you’re freaking out.
You thought you could handle it. You thought you’d get something out of it. And for a minute, it was fun.
But then your feelings snuck up on you. Eventually you were reminded of what you’re really after with a man and what you value.
Right now you have two pictures in your mind: One picture is of this “casual” thing going on. And the other one is what you actually want. The two pictures are so radically different and far apart from each other, that it’s no wonder you’re acting “insane.”
Your expectations are completely out of line for what you’re ACTUALLY doing with this guy.
It’s time to stop creating situations in your life that you KNOW won’t make you happy or comfortable in the long run – even if they feel good in the moment.
2. Find Your Personal Standards… And Then Stick With Them
Starting things with a man in this “casual” way, is a SUREFIRE way to ruin your odds of creating something more meaningful in the future.
I’m a guy. I know.
But, more importantly, getting into a “casual” situation with a man you might want to date more seriously and exclusively, has a VERY HIGH potential to make you FEEL AWFUL.
So…
Unless you’re one out of a hundred thousand women that gets “swept off her feet” by an open, caring, great communicator, who makes moving into a committed relationship effortless… then you’re going to have to start asking yourself some real questions about what you really want from your love life.
And once you have the answers, actually be honest about them from the start. Here’s an important question to ask yourself:
“What are my needs?”
And I do mean YOUR needs. Not his. Not what you’re accepting or tolerating or hoping to get from a man just because there’s nothing better around right now.
Be clear here and think it through. I’ll give you a minute…
Most of the women I know who are dating have a set of subconscious requirements from the men they’re seeing:
That any man they’re involved with, in any way, isn’t dating or still involved with another woman
That he’s open and ready to explore a serious relationship once they get to know each other
That they share the same values and priorities – or he can at least appreciate and support her values
That it’s going somewhere, and it’s not just going to be casual dating forever
But these aren’t things they are willing or able to communicate directly with the man they’re seeing. So, they end up in a situation that is anything but what they were looking for.
They say, “This is fine for now. I’m just enjoying myself.”
They are not being honest with themselves about their bottom-line “must-haves” and therefore can’t express these things to the man, either.
So, how in touch are you with your REQUIREMENTS to feel good when it comes to men and dating? And how do you communicate these to a man?
Do you do it indirectly by acting frustrated and angry when your needs aren’t being met, after you’ve already become intimate and emotionally vested in the relationship? Or do you do it directly and in a positive context as things are GETTING STARTED, so you’re in sync from the get-go?
Remember, 99% of the time, a man is NOT going to make the right decisions for you, or magically and telepathically recognize and meet all your needs.
Sticking to a set of minimum standards and then communicating those helps show a man what it’s going to take to make you happy.
3. Radically Reject Behavior That Doesn’t Meet Your Standards
I observed something fascinating about people and relationships a few years back.
When we’re in a situation that causes bad feelings and friction of some kind, there is always some kind of “payoff” for one or the other person… and that’s why they persist in sticking with the bad situation.
Here’s what you’re getting out of the “casual” thing…
You get a safe and risk-free path to get close to this guy. Even though technically you’re not “close” at all. I call this “working it from the ‘friend zone”.
After all, how vulnerable would you be if you shared what you REALLY were looking for up front, BEFORE you slept with him? You might be disappointed or rejected, or you would be unable to continue the “friendship” that you have right now.
And maybe having to start over alone might actually be worse in your mind than having something crappy and low-quality that you’re “tolerating” now.
But if you look deeper, you’ll probably see that your desire for something more was there all along underneath the surface. Therefore, I doubt that you could have been “just friends” with him anyway, even if you never slept together, without you feeling gypped in some way.
That’s why you have to show a man that you’re strong and you know what you want, and you won’t settle for scraps or second-best or “good enough for now.”
-Christian Carter

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Related Reading: http://elitedaily.com/dating/6-reasons-youre-hookup-girlfriend/869942/
http://elitedaily.com/dating/hookup-culture-non-relationship-generation-getting-nowhere/664654/
http://elitedaily.com/women/every-girl-one-guy-shell-always-go-back/939666/

Related Music: Tug of War by Andy Mineo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uubPjUhxAyQ
When I’m Alone by Lissie: http://youtu.be/7G0_eN36QVc

http://en.gravatar.com/lmartinez85

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