I liked this book by John and Stasi Eldredge, let me just state that from the beginning. So if you hated this book please don’t read any further, and PLEASE don’t send me any emails about how John Eldredge is the antichrist. If you were pleased with the book, or remain undecided, or if you haven’t even read it yet, then please, be my guest. Read on.
I begin with that disclaimer because so many reviewers of Eldredge’s latest book are appalled – ABHORRED, I tell ya – that Eldredge would dare to use quotes from movies, music, and secular authors to illustrate his various ideas. So offended are they, that they have ACTUALLY COUNTED the number of secular references Eldredge makes (which, by the way, they can’t even agree on. Some have it at 32 references, some have it at 35).
If you also feel this threatened by “secular” illustrations, then by all means, buy yourself some white gloves, blinders, and a set of headphones so as to not contaminate your sanctified soul with all the heathen cooties that are out there.
That being said, here we go….
According to the Eldredges, a woman’s heart longs to be romanced, to unveil beauty, and to be part of the Great Adventure. But instead we wind up buried under laundry, tired, living a dull life amidst the gossip and pressures within today’s churches.
“We’re all living in the shadow of that infamous icon, ‘The Proverbs 31 Woman,’ whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for friendships, for taking walks, or reading good books? Her light never goes out at night? When does she have sex?” (page 6).
Through the early chapters we are reminded of God’s formation of Woman, of her beauty, of her personality, and how it gives us insight into God’s character. Through his creation of Woman we learn that God is relational, he is compassionate, he is fiercely devoted, he is our sustainer, and he desires beauty.
They go a little overboard with their emphasis on the importance of Woman in the order of creation (okay, we get it, Eve was the crown of his creation, the zenith, it was not good for Adam to be alone, I GET IT ALREADY). It bordered a little on self-indulging importance. A mere mention would do, with a few verses to back it up, and maybe a small halo on Eve’s head, but not much more than that is necessary.
They talk of beauty, and how beauty matters to God. And yes, the world cheapens beauty by making it unattainable, but the church equally minimizes beauty, making it all about “character” (page 36). Beauty is seen and felt. Both are important to God. A woman who embraces her beauty and femininity says to the world, “All shall be well.”
“And this is what it’s like to be with a woman at rest, a woman comfortable in her feminine beauty. She is enjoyable to be with. She is lovely. In her presence your heart stops holding its breath. You relax and believe once again that all will be well. And this is also why a woman who is striving is so disturbing, for a woman who is not at rest in her heart says to the world, ‘All is not well. Things are not going to turn out all right’ (page 38).”
They talk of the wounded woman, and how she views God and her own femininity. It will be easy to see yourself in these descriptions. I saw myself. I said, Hey, there you are, written in ink! I saw so much of myself that I began to feel a bit justified, a little indignant toward my husband as they described a woman’s wants and needs.
That is, until they pulled the rug out from under my feet.
Oh sure, use the old look-to-Christ-as-the-captivator-of-your-heart mentality. I’d rather blame my own personal Adam for all my problems, thank you very much.
But seriously, women are urged to “turn off the message of our wounds,” to seek Christ for healing, and to forgive our transgressors. We cannot wait for a man to unleash the beauty within us, “God longs to bring this into your life himself” (page 113). How often have I heard or read this message and rolled my eyes: don’t you think I KNOW I’m supposed to ‘let go and let God’? Yet somehow they manage to break through the cheeseball barrier.
Single? Don’t own your own personal Adam? Not to worry, you are not left out. The book discusses the relationships of women – all kinds. Friendship is important. We must “listen between the lines” (page 181). How do I relate to my sister experiencing depression? To a friend who lost her mother to cancer? To the woman in the parking lot whose car sprung a radiator leak? Do I feel lonely in the midst of a community of people? How are we, as Woman, revealing the character of God to the people he puts in front of us?
“All women are not mothers, but all women are called to mother. To mother is to nurture, to train, to educate, to rear. As daughters of Eve, all women are uniquely gifted to help others in their lives become more of who they truly are….In doing this, women partner with Christ in the vital mission of bringing forth life” (page 177).
Overall I would recommend this book – and NOT just because it quotes Rebecca Wells and Strictly Ballroom. Its themes are universal. It points us to Christ as the ultimate healer. If you can get past some of the holy-roller I-cried-out-to-God-and-he-smote-my-affliction Pentecostalism, then you can find something meaningful in this book for you.