Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review: Captivating

I just read the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. It continues in somewhat of the same tradition as Epic and Wild at Heart (two books also written by John Eldredge). Captivating specifically focuses on the unique soul of a woman. I highly recommend it; I think every woman, or young woman, should read this book at least at some point in their lifetime.

Like Eldredge's other books, Captivating is about the deepest meaning of life... a passionate, romantic relationship with Jesus. You'll see yourself, God, and the world in general from a different perspective after reading these books.

There were two things that I especially liked about Captivating. First, it offers a definition for true femininity; and out of the few books I've read on the topic, none came anywhere close to the powerful, liberating, beautiful presentation of femininity that John and Stasi Eldredge describe. 

For an example, I loved how they addressed the issue of feminine "strength". It's been often said, in answer to the feminist movement, that women can be just as "strong" as men; we just have a different kind of strength, even though it isn't always physical. I've always believed that; always believed that females have their own kind of strength... but I've never understood how that plays out, exactly. Sure, okay, we are strong in other ways... I know that... but what ways are they? Exactly? What are some examples of this? Captivating answers this question perfectly, beautifully. Yes, women do have their own form of Godly, feminine strength... and it is just as powerful and influential as a man's strength. But, you will have to read the book to know the answer... I'm not going to spoil it for you. :-)

Second, I loved how the Eldredges answered another major question: the question of beauty. In the church, we often say that true beauty flows from the inside out, not vice versa (1 Peter 3:3-4). Well... that's a great saying... but what does that mean, exactly? Captivating answers this question; it shows how absolutely, totally true this concept is. The answer is amazingly real and applicable, for every single woman on earth. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book...

"Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful."
(Just look at the picture above! I took it while on vacation in Florida, on a tiny island close to Tampa. I thought that sunset was such a gorgeous display of God's beauty and romance. Sometimes nature can be God's version of chocolates or flowers...)

"It is God who longs for Romance; it is God who longs to be our ezer [someone we desperately need, as if in a life-or-death situation where He is our only hope]; it is God who reveals beauty as essential to life. You are the image bearer of this God. That is why you long for those things to."
(The context of this quote is this: man and woman were both made in the image of God; we each reflect different things about who He is. Thus, this is some of how women bear His image. Isn't that an amazing concept?)

"Following hard after Jesus is the heart's natural response when it has been captured and has fallen deeply in love with him."

" 'To be spiritual is to be busy.' 'To be spiritual is to be disciplined.' 'To be spiritual is to be dutiful.' No, to be spiritual is to be in a Romance with God. The desire to be romanced lies deep in the heart of every woman. It is for such that you were made. And you are romanced, and ever will be." 

" 'Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.' (1 Peter 3:3-4)
"First, Peter is not saying that we shouldn't enjoy wearing pretty things. What he's trying to say is that true beauty comes from the inner part of us. Our hearts. ... To have a gentle and quiet spirit is to have a heart of faith, a heart that trusts in God, a spirit that has been quieted by his love and filled with his peace." 

"A woman wants to feel beautiful. The strength of a good man makes her feel so. A man wants to feel strong. The beauty of a good woman makes him feel so."

"No matter how wonderful a taste of relational fullness you have, you will want more. If you had an amazing connection yesterday with someone, when you wake this morning, you will want it again. Eve possesses a bottomless well of longing. Jesus alone is the never-ending fount, which can slake her thirst. No other source, no other relationship will fully satisfy."

"If you are called, God will make a way. Either where you are or through a change of circumstances. Follow your Lover; respond to his invitations. With him, there is no stopping you."

Click here to see Captivating on Amazon.
Click here ( to visit the site of the authors, John and Stasi Eldredge, and learn more about their ministry.