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A Therapist’s #1 recommendation for Women is Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge
Sometimes a book comes along that changes you. It touches your soul and reveals to you a part of yourself you didn’t know existed. Captivating: Unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul by John and Staci Eldredge is that book.
I am a Christian mental health therapist. Captivating has been that book for me but also for many of my female clients. Husbands also gain valuable understanding into how a woman thinks and the desires of her heart!
I was first introduced to Captivating as a required read from our pastor for our premarital course. I was to read Captivating and my husband was to read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. That book is my #1 must read for men! Once we each read or respective book we were asked to switch and the other book, too. I was 24-years old and a relatively young Christian. My self-esteem and over-all self-worth was pretty pitiful. Over the years I have read Captivating two or three more times. Each time I am shown something new about myself and my relationship with God deepens.
A Woman’s Journey
Can I get an Amen that the journey to becoming a woman is difficult? Sometimes it’s downright brutal. Often girls have very little guidance. John and Staci discuss this journey and how so many girls receive the message that they are unseen, unsought, and uncertain.
They pose that every woman walks around with two questions in their heart. Am I enough? Am I too much? When I have talked about that with my female clients I ALWAYS get a head nod. The questions may never go away but they can be answered quickly when you understand your worth in God’s eyes.
The heart of a Woman
John and Staci describe, “The desires that God has placed into our hearts are clues as to who we really are and the role that we are meant to play.”
So often I see woman (and myself) quiet the desires of their heart. They believe the false messages from their past wounds that they are not good enough. That their desires are silly or trivial. Or too big and lofty. They push aside their desires because they may be different from what society tells them to reach for.
But remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are uniquely you and so are your desires.
To be Romanced
Sadly this concept has been considered taboo by society. But it’s so true! Captivating identifies and shows multiple examples of a woman’s desire to be loved and pursued. We see this innately in little girls. They want to be chased and pursued. They love to pretend they are being rescued and saved by whatever terrible creature has captured them. And they love to be told they are lovely and beautiful.
A woman’s wounds come from not receiving those messages. This is especially true when dad’s don’t show her love and affection. When dad’s don’t pursue and let them know they are lovely, they don’t get their answer met. Am I lovely? There are amazing ways for dad’s to show their daughters that they are important and lovely and worth pursuing!
Remember we are made in God’s image right? We are the feminine aspect of God. Doesn’t He want to be loved and pursued by us? So why is that so terrible for women to desire as well?
God also wants to romance us! That also can be an uncomfortable and foreign idea for women. Who me? Who am I to believe that God would want to woo me? But he does because you are lovely and the book gives you proof.
An irreplaceable role in a great adventure.
Women want to be needed. They want to be a warrior too. But a woman has strength in very different ways than a man. And it was designed that way! Women want to be a part of a great adventure and they want to share the experience.
As a therapist, I sit with other people’s emotions all day long. And it can be exhausting. I have had to work to build up my emotional strength to balance empathy and compassion without becoming burned out from all of the pain. And it is a humbling and amazing journey that I am allowed to take with my clients. I love sharing in their adventure and the ability to help them through the hardships and celebrate their victories. That is strength that I have been given.
How are you a warrior? What is your strength as a woman created by God?
Beauty to Unveil
When I read Captivating for the first time, this was the part of the book that I struggled with the most. Because I didn’t see my beauty. And I didn’t think I was supposed to acknowledged it. I know I’m not alone because I hear so many of my female clients saying the same thing. They talk about even feeling ashamed when they do feel beautiful.
This often is reinforced by moms. Either blatantly being told they are not beautiful or through the messages they receive about their hair, clothes, weight, etc. Girls also receive messages about beauty by watching their mom’s struggle with their own insecurity with beauty. If you want your daughter to know she is beautiful and a gift to this world then you need to share in those experiences with her and emulate that kind of love for yourself!
John and Staci so eloquently describe and breakdown the importance of beauty and the power it holds. Because our beauty is a reflection of God! Remember we are made in his image! The book also goes through creation and understanding the order in which He created them. Everything becomes more complex and important. More beautiful. What was God’s final creation? Woman. As women we are the culmination of creation. We are the epitome of beauty. Why is that so bad to acknowledge?!
Captivating describes a process that happens all too often. Women either deny their beauty and become hardened and dominating or they become desolate and fearful. The book breaks down why this happens and how trusting in our beauty and embracing it can us to become more open to all of our relationships.
A challenging read
At times, Captivating is hard to read. It opens up wounds and pushes for vulnerability. My first time reading the book was more uncomfortable than subsequent reads because I am in a different place in both my relationship with God and my own self-esteem.
When I have had female clients tell me they dislike the book it is generally because they are struggling with a certain section or point John and Staci are making. This struggle is usually from a past wound or message they have received and believing the book would mean having to break apart that wound. As my clients and I have focused on the specific areas they struggle with they come to see the false messages they have been using. It can create tremendous growth.
If you struggle with an aspect of the book I would recommend discussing the section with a trusted friend, mentor, or therapist. You are worth more than your false messages! Because you are lovely and beautiful! And you are worth being loved by God!
I sincerely pray that Captivating touches your heart and challenges you to push through past wounds to grow deeper in your relationship with God!