Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Heart of a Woman (parts 1 & 2)

Part 1
"I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I've ever met feels it--something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women....We feel unseen, even by those who are closest to us. We feel unsought--that no one has the passion or the courage to pursue us, to get past our messiness to find the woman deep inside. And we feel uncertain--uncertain what it even means to be a woman; uncertain what it truly means to be feminine; uncertain if we are or ever will be. Aware of our deep failings, we pour contempt on our own hearts for wanting more. Oh, we long for intimacy and for adventure; we long to be the Beauty of some great story. But the desires set deep in our hearts seem like a luxury, granted only to those women who get their acts together. The message of to the rest of us--whether from a driven cluture or a driven church--is try harder." (Captivating pp. 6-7)

I'm sure I wrote on this somewhere around a year ago. I don't know why I stopped reading the book, but here I am, picking it up again. Finding myself in a place where I have lost sight of God and who I am to Him. Well, ok, maybe I didn't really lose sight of Him, I know He's always been there, but I most definitely lost track of who I am in His eyes. As I was re-reading the first chapter, the above passage stood out to me. I realized that the author was describing me, and I just hadn't been fully ready to see myself as one of those women. In reality, all women have felt this at some point or another. Of course, I don't always feel like a woman....most often I still feel like a little girl, or some giddy teenager. How do you try harder at something when you don't even know what it means in the first place?

"And in all the exhortations we have missed the most important thing of all. We have missed the heart of a woman.

"And that is not a wise thing to do, for as the Scriptures tell us, the heart is central. 'Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life' (Prov. 4:23). Above all else. Why? Because God knows that our heart is core to who we are. It is the source of all our creativity, our courage, and our convictions. It is the fountainhead of our faith, our hope, and of course, our love. This 'wellspring of life' within us is the very essence of our existence, the center of our being. Your heart as a woman is the most important thing about you." (Captivating pp. 7-8)

My heart is the most important thing about me. Then why don't I ever treat it as such. And how does one guard their heart, anyway? Does anyone really know? Because I don't have a clue short of blockading it off and making it more of a fortress to be stormed than a simple lock to be undone.

"....And so the journey to discover what God meant when he created woman in his image--when he created you as his woman--that journey begins with your heart. Another way of saying this is that the journey begins with desire....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." (Captivating pg.8)

Part 2
As promised, the follow-up, although I can't promise any more fluidity or sense than the first post. Oh well. (All quotes from Captivating unless otherwise specified.)

"The King is enthralled by your beauty." -Psalm 45:11 (pg. 12)

"I want to be beautiful
And make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart
And be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
I just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful."
-Bethany Dillon, "Beautiful" (pp. 13-14)

"And it's not just the desire for an outward beauty, but more--a desire to be captivating in the depths of who we are." (pg. 16)

I know this to be true from personal experience. It's one thing to be desired by someone because they view you as beautiful on the outside, but something entirely different to be viewed as desirable because of who you are, which brings out a great beauty. And the joy, the excitement, in knowing you're desirable, not simply for outward appearances, far surpasses the fleeting happiness in hearing someone tell you you're cute, adorable, or even beautiful. What person only ever truly wishes to be sought after because they fit some physical ideal of beauty? No woman, that's for sure. And really, the key word isn't so much desirable, but captivating.

"For now, don't you recognize that a woman yearns to be seen, and to be thought of as captivating? We desire to possess beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil." (pg. 17)

I've written on the following before, I realize, but that was about a year ago, and many things have happened in that year. Including various realizations....we can call them epiphanies, if necessary.

"A woman in the presence of a good man, a real man, loves being a woman. His strength allows her feminine heart to flourish. His pursuit draws out her beauty. And a man in the presence of a real woman loves being a man. Her beauty arouses him to play the man, it draws out his strength. She inspires him to be a hero." (pg. 18)

Oh to be so lucky as to experience this. I've been contemplating, and thinking back on my life (mainly high school until now), to try to find even one moment when I've experienced this. There is one time that comes to mind, something within this past year, but the moment was fleeting. I know why I can't come up with many of these experiences in my life. It's because I've done most of the pursuing of relationships. I've never allowed for someone to pursue me, thus inhibiting the true feminine heart within me. That stops now.

"Most of our addictions as women flare up when we feel that we are not loved or sought after." (pg. 10)

This I also know from experience. I am an emotional eater, shopper, watcher of tv/movies. When I'm not feeling loved I turn to any one of those three things. Sometimes in conjunction. Do you ever notice how, when you're feeling especially in need of love the only movies you want to watch are romances or romantic comedies? I certainly do. It's as though I think I can fill that need by experiencing it through others, when realistically, I typically feel all the more lonely or empty when it's over. Only God can fill that hole, that longing in my heart.

He recently spoke to my heart, through a gal at Bible study, on the topic of loneliness. (For when we're feeling unloved, we're often lonely as well.) She shared that she kept going back to the passage in Genesis where God says that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). He knows when we're lonely, and that it's not good for us to be alone. It was comforting for her to know that God knows this, even if He doesn't rush to the solution. I was blown away when she said that. God doesn't rush anything, why would He rush His best for me? It's me who tries to rush things, to push God to move faster in certain areas of my life. This is where patience comes in handy, and I know He's built that in me. Not sure why I don't see fit to apply those lessons to all areas of my life.

"The longings God has written deep in your heart are telling you something essential about what it means to be a woman, and the life he meant for you to live. Now we know--many of those desires have gone unmet, or been assaulted, or simply so long neglected, that most women end up living two lives. On the surface we are busy and efficient, professional, even. We are getting by. On the inside women lose themselves in a fantasy world or in cheap novels, or we give ourselves over to food or some other addiction to numb the ache of our hearts. But your heart is still there, crying out to be set free, to find the life your desires tell you of." (pg. 19)

Patience, however, doesn't mean I'm to sit idly by and wait, twiddling my thumbs, until God sees fit to bring someone into my life. I must live my life as God has given me, seek Him first, give back to Him that which He's given me, and trust that He knows what He's doing, and His will is best. Then I will see my heart set free, and the desires of my heart fulfilled.

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