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.”

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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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Journaling

Notes to my Husband

This week I finished reading Captivating by John&Stasi Eldredge. They emphasize that this world needs my feminine heart. The people in my life need me to be who only I can be. “No one can be to the people in your life who you can be to them. No one can offer what you can offer.”

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I can risk being vulnerable because I am secure in God’s embrace. Through these last, uh….10ish+ years I have struggled with vulnerability. Holding back tears and swallowing that lump in your throat. Waiting until you get home to cry about a conversation that took place  hours prior. Standing there with the opportunity to honor your soul by speaking words but instead you bare the tension and fix your eyes on an invisible dot on the wall. Typing out a text message either lengthy or just “hey” then deleting it, because you can’t just keep putting your heart out there. Having all the right words while alone but feeling your strength fleeting in the presence of others. Deciding a pokerface is much better than mascara-tear face. Hot tears on my pillow are safer than tears stared at from across the room. Fearing that you’re feelings will repel others. This has been me time and time again. But as I grow in my Protector, I have felt more confident to be my uniquely feminine self. It’s not easy to open up and talk about the things that make my voice shake. I prefer to be well versed, eloquent, composed, unjarred. Life is messy, but there’s beauty in the struggle.
This is me sharing my feminine heart with you all today. Almost a year ago I started a list for my future husband. I reflected on past failed relationships and asked myself What Should the Next Guy Know? I thought at some point in my next  (and final ) relationship I’d share this list with my fiance/husband. Maybe a surprise on our wedding day?

12/16/13  1:23am
for my husband…
somethings you should know about me…

I love pasta, spaghetti, alfredo, lasagna, garlic bread, I love it all!

I’m quiet, a lot. you’ll have to be okay with that. just sitting next to me in silence and know that I’m perfectly content.

but…the once in a blue moon that I’m stressed, worried, scared, nervous, hurt – I hope God gives you the ability to know the difference because…

so many times i just can’t say what i want. fear holds me back from saying certain things. please be patient.

I will almost always forget to wash dirty pots and pans.

I’m far more sensitive and emotional than i let on. i may just cry in secret places at secret times. please be patient and kind.

I dont like many sports but would gladly go to any sporting events with you,  just because it’s you.

i may stare at you often. its because I’m in awe of you and your male-ness.

i love hot tea. hot coffee with flavored creamer.

I eat cereal all times of the day.

i love rainbows, glitter, sparkles.

I love to laugh, so i hope you’re funny.

hug me everyday please.

there is never enough “i love you”s

I’m writing  this on a day that all i can do is trust God that He is bringing us together, because know. ..

I’ve had boyfriends, crushes, flings, and unrequited love

and I’m putting in my faith that you’re mine to keep.

I like to sleep in.

unless we have plans, I probably won’t get dressed and put makeup on.

I’m not always on time.

I can’t wait to make a house into a home for US.

12/18/183. 2:35am
I don’t like to be rushed.

I can definitely be indecisive.

I don’t like yelling, slamming doors, cussing, acting out in anger towards me makes me not feel safe.

I dont like being called boring.

I’m shy. I don’t like meeting new people. I don’t like small talk. I don’t like superficial conversations.

so it may seem like I’m not trying to be social but I really am trying.

my perfect day with you would involve us laying in bed all day (even calling in to work) and just talk,laugh,and just be together.

I hope we have a million inside jokes.

6/11/14. 2am
I always have a pile of clothes on the bedroom floor.

I have to fall asleep with the fan on.

I eat strawberries in the middle of the night.

I hate car problems. I pray to God that you’re a car enthusiast…

and I drive on empty for days.

my mascara routine is entirely too long, be patient.

I don’t like crying in front of people, even myself.

if I’m in a sad mood and I choose to listen to music,it’ll be sad music. if I choose a movie, it’ll be a funny movie.

I procrastinate haircuts.

I’m perfectly happy sitting outside on a porch reading a book.

cloudy days make me feel like doing nothing.

I prefer any  chore except laundry.

I love macaroni and cheese.

8/6/14  1:50am
I don’t like being rushed to make a decision.

I prefer to have a partner when doing small things like running errands.

“I want the parts that you’ve tried to throw away -the parts that you were convinced no one could ever love”

every so often I fall in love with a song or movie and play it in repeat for days or even weeks a time.

everyday is an occasion for froyo

also donuts.

oneday I want to get in my car and drive to anywhere for the weekend.

8/26/14  2:05am
sometimes fear immobilizes me.

I love summer

but I like fall much better.

I love X-Files and hope one day you will too.

“if you’re a bird, I’m a bird” learn it. love it.

every once in awhile help me experience something new, at my own pace.

I like making lists 🙂

I go to bed really late.

I keep quiet about important decisions until I’m sure of my choice.

please give me a puppy.

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To be continued. ..

12/05/14    4:31pm

im usually too hard myself
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Related Music: Lord I’m Ready Now by Plumb, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBUQqLp6N24

 

http://en.gravatar.com/that1liana

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