When my husband read John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart, several years ago, the insights it contained spoke to him. John Eldredge has a way of shedding light on the mysterious heart of a man, and suggestions for the healing of the brokenness contained within it. His thoughts deeply resonated with Jason - putting words to things that Jason only instinctively knew or felt, but couldn’t describe. It all made sense to us. We both could easily see (I read the book too) how valuable and true Mr. Eldredge’s insights were and as much as we could we began to pay attention to Jason’s heart in the struggles we faced.
And then the Eldredges came out with a book for women - Captivating. And what Wild at Heart does for men, Captivating does for women.
This book is a breath of fresh air for femininity in crisis. Not only is it laid out well and easy to read, but it also has a depth and clarity that you don’t find in books about the topic. Human beings are mysterious to themselves and it’s rare to find someone that is able to clarify yourself…to yourself.
There are things this book doesn’t do. Captivating doesn’t add to your to-do list. It doesn’t give you a checklist of 10 things you have to do before you can be healed or offer a step-by-step approach to being more feminine. What it does do is lay open the heart of a woman, it gives real life examples of how that heart is wounded and then offers suggestions and encourages you to prayer, counseling and/or medical intervention - whatever is required for you to find peace and healing. Every woman has deep desires - questions that need answering. According to the Eldredges, every woman needs to be romanced and pursued, longs for an irreplaceable part in a great adventure and desires to unveil a beauty which is all her own. And at the heart of these desires are her questions: Do you see me? Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for? And the answers she is given by those around her (who represent God at different times) deeply affect how a woman goes about her daily life: how she reacts under pressure and stress and especially affects the choices and decisions she makes for herself. If someone (ie. Her father or mother) has told her, over and over again, subtly or not-so-subtly, that she is not lovely and that she is not worth fighting for, it is devastating to her, and that false understanding of herself is reflected in her life choices.
I’ve read Captivating twice now, cover to cover, and gone back to quote it more times than I can count. It still makes me teary and gets me fired up, all at the same time. One small thing: while this book isn’t written specifically from a Catholic perspective, nothing in their writings struck me as glaringly problematic for Catholics. In fact, John and Stasi are surprisingly refreshing in their use of quotes and sentiments from saints and Catholic writers. They are also very in tune with the spiritual world.
That being said, I would still encourage you to read the book (and Wild at Heart) with the eye of a critic, while pondering the universal truths of which they speak. I suspect that you’ll find something in their writing that is relevant to your life and healing to your heart.