“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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/