Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eve (part 3)

*All quotes from Captivating unless otherwise specified.
*I had to break this chapter into 3 parts, it was just way too long. Now, without further ado, the final installment on Eve.

Beauty to Unveil

"Beauty is essential to God. No--that's not putting it strongly enough. Beauty is the essence of God." (pg. 34)
"Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful." (pg. 34)

When you look at everything around you, in particular nature, what's your first response to it, your first thought? Do you see the beauty in it? Because that's what it is. The sky, in it's various stages and colors. The mountains or the ocean as the sun is setting and rising. The flowers in the field, the birds and their songs. All of it, beautiful. Yes, nature has a functional purpose, but that's not the primary reason for it's creation. All was created to show the glory of God. Therefore, it's beauty is the primary purpose. And this in itself shows us that the very essence of God is beauty.

"Beauty is the essence of a woman. We want to be perfectly clear that we mean both a physical beauty and a soulful/spiritual beauty. The one depends upon and flows out of the other. Yes, the world cheapens and prostitutes beauty, making it all about a perfect figure few women can attain. But Christians minimize it too, or overspiritualize it, making it all about 'character.' We must recover the prize of Beauty. The church must take it back. Beauty is too vital to lose. God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. She expresses beauty in both. Better, she expresses beauty simply in who she is. Like God, it is her essence." (pg. 36)

Too often we look to the outward to determine beauty. When describing one person to another, in particular someone whom may not be "beautiful" by society's standards, we say they have a great personality or something of the like. There's a scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally that gives a perfect example of this. When Harry is trying to set up his best guy friend with Sally, and Sally's trying to set up her best girlfriend with Harry, there's a scene where Harry & Jess are talking about Sally. It comes down to Jess believing that, because Harry says Sally's attractive, and has a great personality, she's not beautiful. It's an interesting conversation, for those who haven't seen the movie, watch it. You'll get it.

But beauty is essential for women, it's essential to women. All women want to be viewed as beautiful, inside and out. There are some women who, despite all their outward beauty, have such ugly hearts that their outward appearance doesn't even matter anymore. While there are women who aboslutely radiate beauty because of the beauty in their hearts. They say beauty is skin deep. That's society's idea of beauty, not God's. To God, beauty goes much deeper. Beauty is soul deep.

"Beauty is powerful. It may be the most powerful thing on earth. It is dangerous. Because it matters. Let us try and explain why.

"[B]eauty speaks.....beauty says, 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 it's 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.'...We need what Beauty speaks. What it says is hard to put into words. But part of its message is that all is well. All will be well.

Which woman do you find yourself to be most often? Are you at rest? What is your beauty speaking to those around you?

"Beauty also invites. Recall what it is like to hear a truly beautiful piece of music. It captures you; you want to sit down and just drink it in....(This is not visual, showing us that beauty is deeper than looks.)Music like this commands your attention, invites you to come more deeply into it....We describe a great book as 'captivating.' It draws you in, holds your attention. You can't wait to get back to it, spend time with it. All of the responses that God wants of us. All of the responses a woman wants too. Beauty invites.

I know that I want to be that woman that someone can't wait to get back to, can't wait to spend time with. I also want to respond to God this way. I've learned that the more time I take in being intentional about pursuing God, the greater the desire to go back to Him. The greater the desire to spend time with Him, where I can't wait for that time to come in my day where I get to just sit at His feet, soaking in His love and His truth through His Word.

"Beauty nourishes....a woman's body is one of the most beautiful of all God's creations....It nourishes, offers life.

"Beauty comforts.There is something profoundly healing about it. Have you ever wondered why we send flowers to the bereaved? In the midst of their suffering and loss, only a gift of beauty says enough, or says it right....Beauty comforts. It soothes the soul.

"Beauty inspires....[A]s Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt at the end of As Good As It Gets, 'You make me want to be a better man.' Isn't it true? Think of what it might have been like to have been in the presence of a woman like Mother Teresa. Her life was so beautiful, and it called us to something higher....Beauty inspires.

"Beauty is transcendent.....Beauty draws us to God....All these things are true for any experience of Beauty. But they are especially true when we experience the beauty of a woman--her eyes, her form, her voice, her heart, her spirit, her life. She speaks all of this far more profoundly than anything else in all creation, because she is incarnate; she is personal." (pp.37-40)

While flowers, mountains and oceans may be scenic and beautiful, nothing speaks of beauty the way a woman does. When you encounter the beauty of a woman, all else fades into the background. Such as it is with God. When you experience Him, when you experience His beauty, everything else is dim in comparison. Nothing else matters.

"Beauty is, without question, the most essential and the most misunderstood of all of God's qualities--of all feminine qualities too....A woman knows, down in her soul, that she longs to bring beauty to the world. She might be mistaken on how (something every woman struggles with), but she longs for a beauty to unveil. This is not just culture, or the need to 'get a man.' This is in her heart, part of her design." (pp. 40-41)

Show me a woman who doesn't desire to be beautiful, to even hear that she is beautiful, and I'll show you a woman so hurt by this world that she's lying to herself as much as to others.

"One of the deepest ways a woman bears the image of God is in her mystery. By 'mystery' we don't mean 'forever beyond our knowing,' but 'something to be explored.' (Prov. 25:2)....God yearns to be known. But he wants to be sought after by those who would know him....(Jer.29:13). There is dignity here; God does not throw himself at any passerby. He is no harlot. If you would know him you must love him; you must seek him with your whole heart. This is crucial to any woman's soul, not to mention her sexuality. 'You cannot simply have me. You must seek me, pursue me. I won't let you in unless I know you love me.'" (pg. 41)

And yet, how often do we women ignore that desire to be sought after and simply throw ourselves at men in our lives? We recklessly give our hearts to those who would show interest in us, instead of guarding it until they prove to be truly worthy of being let in. Not to say that men aren't worthy, but not all men should be granted access to the deepest recesses of our hearts. That ought to be reserved for God first, and only then to the man who would pursue it for honorable, pure, and loving reasons. The same goes for our bodies.

"Just like God, a woman is not a problem to be solved, but a vast wonder to be enjoyed. This is so true of her sexuality. Few women can or even want to 'just do it.' Foreplay is crucial to her heart, the whispering and loving and exploring of one another that culminates in intercourse. That is a picture of what it means to love her soul. She yearns to be known and that takes time and intimacy. It requires an unveiling. As she is sought after, she reveals more of her beauty. As she unveils her beauty, she draws us to know her more deeply." (pp 41-42)

"Whatever else it means to be feminine, it is depth and mystery and complexity, with beauty as its very essence. Now, lest despair set in, let us say as clearly as we can:

Every woman has a beauty to unveil.
Every woman.

Because she bears the image of God. She doesn't have to conjure it, go get it from a salon, have plastic surgery or breast implants. No, beauty is an essence that is given to every woman at her creation." (pg. 42)

Do you women hear that? You don't have to go "get" beauty, it's been give you already. God gave you beauty the day you were created! Every woman!

"...it is God who longs for Romance; it is God who longs to be our ezer; 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 too. There is a radiance hidden in your heart that the world desperately needs." (pg. 42)
The desire for romance, to be beautiful, is not silly, nor wrong. It's built in to who you are and whose image you represent! You are beautiful, and you are desperately needed!
*The following was originally in here earlier, but I didn't feel it fit quite as well with where I was going. So, I've sort of added it as a side note. A little lesson for us all.

"...Adam is captured best in motion, doing something. His essence is strength in action. That is what he speaks to the world. He bears the image of God, who is a warrior. On behalf of God, Adam says, 'God will come through. God is on the move.' That is why a passive man is so disturbing. His passivity defies his very essence. It violates the way he bears God's image. A passive man says, 'God will not come through. He is not acting on your behalf.'" (pp. 36-37)
It's sad, really, that we are seeing a greater amount of passivity in men these days. Society and culture, even Christian culture at times, do not encourage men to be warriors. Their strength is being sapped away by the need for women to be more than they were created to be. This is not to say that women can't be strong, or warriors in their own right, but when it comes at the cost of emasculating our men, something's not right.

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