Captivating by Stasi Eldredge – Chapter 8


Wow! I feel like there are a lot of challenges in this chapter. Here are some lines that jumped out at me:

She is meant to be the incarnation – our experience in human form – of a Captivating God – WHOA!! Really think about that for a moment. It speaks volumes to a woman’s value. I don’t think we value ourselves to that degree. I don’t think we see our selves in that way. I think if we did, it would have a dramatic impact on the things we say and do. So here is challenge number one.

The heart of the woman determines what it is she is inviting others to – to life or to death. Ouch! Another big responsibility. I wonder how many people I have invited to death?

Just think about your life – why  you do the things you do. Have you asked yourself how much you are motivated by fear? … I never gave it much thought – but I will now. Challenge number two.

To possess true beauty, we must be willing to suffer. WHAT!!! I don’t want to suffer. But then I read this … Yet, if Christ himself was perfected through is suffering, why would I believe God would not do the same with me? UGH!!! GULP! HMMMM

Here is where we “work out” our salvation as God works in us. 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. Not a heart that is striving and restless.
That is why it is our greatest expression of faith, because we are going to have to trust Jesus – really trust him. That’s why unveiling our beauty is how we live by faith. OH MY – Faith? I can see how this works out this way, and it sure is easy to mouth the words, “I trust Jesus,” but can I live them? How much do I really trust him? Challenge number three.

And unveiling beauty is our greatest expression of love. Unveiling our beauty is our greatest expression of hope. I never game unveiling my beauty much thought let alone realizing that I had a beauty … until now. Challenge number four.
Like I said, a lot of challenges in this chapter. That means lots of work while remaining at rest. I don’t even know if I have that in me – but that is where Jesus has to come in and do his thing with the Holy Spirit I guess. So I trust that he is up for the challenge because he has already been there and done that, I just have to let go of control and sit back and watch the master craftsman at work and do what I’m told. Do you think he put that attribute into a woman – doing what she is told. LOL.

Notes I took:

The Essence of a Man

The essence of a man is strength. A man is meant to be the incarnation – our experience in human form – of our Warrior god. (Isa. 63:1)

To experience the strength of a man is to have him speak on our behalf. For when men abuse with words, we are pierced. Their strength has wounded us. When they are silent, we are starved. They have offered no strength; they have abandoned us. But when they speak with us, hear us, offer their words to us and on our behalf, something in our hearts is able to rest. “How are you?” is one of the simplest and most loving questions John ever asks me.

We long for the protection masculine strength offers. To have them shield us from physical harm, yes. But also to have them shield us from emotional harm and spiritual attack. … As women we long for someone strong to stand between us and the vicious assaults of our Enemy.

Strength is what the world longs to experience from a man. Now – isn’t it obvious that we don’t mean big muscles? The strength of a man is first a soulish strength – a strength of heart. And yes, as he lives it out, owns it, inhabits his strength, he does become more handsome. More attractive. As the fruit of an inner reality.

So then you can see that when we speak about the essence of a woman – her beauty – we don’t mean “the perfect figure.” The beauty of a woman is first a soulish beauty … And yes, as we live it out, own it, inhabit our beauty, we do become more lovely. More alluring. Our true self becomes reflected in our appearance. But it flows from the inside out.

Essence of a Woman

The essence of a woman is Beauty. She is meant to be the incarnation – our experience in human form – of a Captivating God. A God who invites us. (Song 4:9, 15) … Beauty is what the world longs to experience from a woman. … Beauty is an essence that dwells in EVERY woman. It was given to her by God. It was given to YOU.

Surely you would agree that God is nothing if not beautiful. All around us God’s creation shouts of his beauty and his goodness. God’s beauty is lavished on the world.

Beauty is powerful. Beauty may be the most powerful thing on earth. Beauty speaks. Beauty invites. Beauty nourishes. Beauty comforts. Beauty inspires. Beauty is transcendent. Beauty draws us to God.

God has given this Beauty to Eve, to every woman. Beauty is core to a woman – who she is and what she longs to be – and one of the most glorious ways we bear the image of God in a broken and often ugly world.

Beauty is the most essential and yes, the most misunderstood of all the feminine qualities. The only things standing in the way of our beauty are our doubts and fears, and the hiding and striving we fall to as a result.

Beauty Flows from a Heart at Rest

You see, beauty indwells every woman. Usually it comes when she doesn’t know it, when she isn’t trying to make it come. Rather, something is happening that allows her defenses to come down for a moment. For instance, when someone is listening. She knows that she matters. Someone cars about her heart, wants to know her. Her beauty emerges as if from behind a veil.

So the choice a woman makes is not to conjure beauty, but to let her defenses down. To choose to set aside her normal means of survival and just let her heart show up. Beauty comes with it.

1 Peter 3:3-4 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. A heart at rest. When I first read the part about a gentle and quiet spirit, I gave up having much hope of ever making the grade. I am loud. I make jokes when I am nervous or uncomfortable, and when I am comfortable and at ease. I am not prone to long silences. If no one is talking in a group, I take that as an invitation to share my thoughts. A gentle and quiet spirit? Oh dear.

God, in his faithfulness, is changing me. In fact, instead of making me into someone else, he is making me more me. That the more his we become, the more ourselves we become; more our true selves. 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. Not a heart that is striving and restless.

A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that he finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our striving.

“He will quiet you with his love” Zeph 3:17. A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest, trusting God because she has come to know him to be worthy of those around her to rest as well. She speaks comfort; she knows that we live in a world at war, that we have a vicious enemy, and our journey is through a broken world. But she also knows that because of God all is well, that all will be well. A woman of true beauty offer others the grace to be and the room to become. In her presence, we can release the tension and pressure that so often grip our hearts. We can also breath in the truth that God loves us and he is good. … Ask Jesus to show you your beauty. Ask him what he things of you as a woman. His words to us let us rest and unveil our beauty.

Beauty is Inviting

Beauty beckons us. Beauty invites us. Come, explore, immerse yourself. God – Beauty himself – invites us to know him. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” Ps 34:8. He wants to be known, to be explored. A woman does too. So the unveiled beauty of a woman entices and invites. The heart of the woman determines what it is she is inviting others to – to life or to death.

I woman who is striving invites others to strive. She does not say, All is well. All shall be well. Her fear doesn’t allow it. She is withholding the very things her world needs. … By contrast a woman whose heart is at rest invites others to rest. You find room for your soul. It expands. you can breath again. You can rest. It is good. You are free to be you. It is one of life’s greatest gifts.

A woman who is hiding invites others to do the same. A woman who makes herself vulnerable and available for intimacy invites others to do the same. A woman who is controlling cannot invite others to rest, to be known. They will feel controlled in her presence. It won’t feel safe there.

A woman who is unveiling her beauty is inviting others to life. She risks being vulnerable; exposing her true heart and inviting others to share theirs. She is not demanding, but she is hopeful.

You see, ultimately, a woman invites us to know God. To experience through her that God is merciful. That he is tender and kind. That God longs for us – to be known by us and to know us. She invites us to experience that God is good, deep, lovely, alluring, Captivating.

We know many of you are feeling, But I’m not there. I’m not that kind of woman. Here is where we “work out” our salvation as God works in us (Phil 2:12-13). As you begin to live like this, you discover the places in your heart that still need the healing touch of Jesus. That’s how it goes. We don’t get to stay in hiding until we are whole; Jesus invites us to live as an inviting woman now, and find our healing along the way.

Offering Beauty

For a woman to unveil her beauty means she is offering her heart. Not primarily her works or her usefulness (think Martha in the kitchen). Offering her presence. … She offers herself, her beauty, to us. She invites us to live above the striving of the world. She gives something of God.

Beauty offers mercy. Beauty isn’t demanding. Instead, it speaks from desire. To offer your heart is to offer your desire – instead of your demand. Beauty offers desire.

Of Course It Feels Risky

A few verses after Peter talks about a quiet heart, he gives us what might be the secret to releasing a woman’s heart and her beauty. “Do not give way to fear. 1 Peter 3:6. Isn’t that why we hid, why we strive, why we control, why we do anything but offer beauty? We are afraid. We have given way to fear. Just think about your life – why  you do the things you do. Have you asked yourself how much you are motivated by fear?

That is why God says to us, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isa 30:15. In repentance and rest. He loves it when we, gripped with doubt and fear that he will not be enough, turn the gaze of our souls to him in hope. He loves to prove himself faithful and more than enough to satisfy our hungry souls. When we do turn to him, our souls rest and we are saved. Again and again.

We can’t wait until we feel safe to love and invite. In fact, if you feel a little scared, then you’re probably on the right path. God calls us to sop hiding, to stop dominating, to trust him, and to offer our true selves. To entice, allure, and invite others to Jesus by reflecting his glory in our lives. He will give no guarantee that others will enjoy us and respond well.

In fact, we can be sure that there will be times when they do not. Jesus offered like no other, and many rejected him. In those moments or seasons when that happens to us, God’s invitation is to bring our sorrow to him. Not to shut down with, I’ll never try that again. But to keep our hearts open and alive, and find refuse and healing in his love.

Letting Our hearts be Deepened

We do not always get what we want, but that doesn’t mean that we no longer want. It means we stay awake to the unmet longings and ache. Wait there. Invite Jesus to come, there. And he will come.not always to satisfy us by giving us what we want. But to come himself; to meet us with his very Person and to satisfy us with himself.

To possess true beauty, we must be willing to suffer. I don’t like that. Yet, if Christ himself was perfected through is suffering, why would I believe God would not do the same with me?

Living in true beauty can require much waiting, much time, much tenacity of spirit. We must constantly direct our gazes toward the face of God, even in the presence of longing and sorrow. As a pregnant woman is enlarged in her waiting, so are our hearts.

Cultivating Beauty

How do we cultivate beauty? how do we become ever more beautiful? By tending to our hearts with great care, as a master gardener tends to her work. Song of Songs 1:6. Yes, life is harsh on a woman’s heart. It has been hard on your heart. The assault of our beauty is real. But Jesus is urging us now to care for ourselves., watch over our hearts  Prov 4:23. The world needs your beauty. That is why you are here.

Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as he tells us what we need. We grow in our intimacy with Jesus as we practice listening to his urging, his nudges within. Pay attention to them and follow. The Holy Spirit is our guide, our counselor, our comforter, our Great Friend, and he will lead us. Abiding in Christ means paying attention to the voice of God within, nourishing our own hearts and nourishing our relationship with him. Over time.

True beauty comes from a depth of soul that can only be attained through living many years well. … As we gaze on Jesus, as we behold his goodness, his glory, we are changed into his likeness the most beautiful Person of all. “They looked to Him and were radiant.” Ps 34:5.

When a woman knows that she is loved and loved deeply, she glows from the inside. This radiance stems from a heart that has had its deepest questions answered. “am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for? When these questions are answered, Yes, a restful, quiet spirit settles in a woman’s heart.

And every woman can have these questions answered, Yes. You have been and you will continue to be romanced all your life. Yes. Our god finds you lovely. Jesus has moved heaven and earth to win you fro himself. He will not rest until you are completely his. The King is enthralled by your beauty. He finds you captivating.

When we are at rest in that knowledge we can offer our hearts to others and invite them to life. Unveiling our beauty really just means unveiling our feminine hearts.

It is scary, for sure. That is why it is our greatest expression of faith, because we are going to have to trust Jesus – really trust him. We’ll have to trust him that we have a beauty that what he has said of us is true. And we’ll have to trust him with how it goes when we offer it, because that is our of our control. We’ll have to trust him when it hurts, and we’ll have to trust him when we are finally seen and enjoyed. That’s why unveiling our beauty is how we live by faith.

And unveiling beauty is our greatest expression of love, because it is what the world most needs from us. When we choose not to hide, when we chose to offer our hearts, we are choosing to love. Jesus offers; he invites; he is present. That is how he loves. That is how we love – sincerely, as the Scripture says, “from the heart” 1 Peter 1:22. Our focus shifts from self-protection to the hearts of others. We offer Beauty so that their hearts might come alive, be healed, know God. That is love.

Unveiling our beauty is our greatest expression of hope. We hope that it will matter, that our beauty really does make a difference. We hope there is a greatest and higher Beauty, hope we are reflecting that beauty, and hope it will triumph. Our hope is that all is well because of Jesus and that ll will be well because of him. So we unveil beauty in hope.

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