God created us with desires!

“If we were better women — whatever that means — life wouldn’t be so hard… Right?”

Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible dignities — as a reflection of God’s own heart.
The Heart of a Woman
Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
Hi, I’m Stasi.
Think about the women you meet at church. They’re trying to live up to some model of femininity. What do they “teach” you about being a woman? What are they saying to us through their lives? You’d have to conclude that a godly woman is… tired. And guilty.

We’re all living in the shadow of that infamous icon, “The Proverbs 31 Woman,” whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for friendships, for taking walks, or reading good books? Her light never goes out at night? When does she have sex? Somehow she has sanctified the shame most women live under, biblical proof that yet again we don’t measure up. Is that supposed to be godly — that sense that you are a failure as a woman?

Unseen, Unsought, and Uncertain

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. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.

After all, if we were better women — whatever that means — life wouldn’t be so hard. Right? We wouldn’t have so many struggles; there would be less sorrow in our hearts. Why is it so hard to create meaningful friendships and sustain them? Why do our days seem so unimportant, filled not with romance and adventure but with duties and demands? 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 to the rest of us — whether from a driven culture or a driven church — is “try harder.”

The Heart of a Woman

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. — Proverbs 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.

Think about it: God created you as a woman.

God created man in his own image… male and female He created them. — Genesis 1:27

Whatever it means to bear God’s image, you do so as a woman. Female. That’s how and where you bear His image.

Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible dignities — as a reflection of God’s own heart.

You are a woman to your soul, to the very core of your being. 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. 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.

Many of us have come to despise our desires or at least try to bury them. They have become a source of pain or shame. We are embarrassed of them. But we don’t need to be. The desires of our heart bear a great glory because they are precisely where we bear the image of God. We long for certain things because He does!

Look at the games that little girls play, and if you can, remember what you dreamed of as a little girl. Look at the movies women love. Listen to your own heart and the hearts of the women you know. What is it that a woman wants? What does she dream of? Think again of women like Tamar, Ruth, Rahab — not very “churchy” women, but women held up for esteem in the Bible. 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.

Excerpted with permission from Captivating: Unveiling The Mystery Of A Woman’s Soul by Stasi & John Eldredge, copyright Thomas Nelson.

* * *

Your Turn

Those with a nagging sense of failing to measure up as a woman, raise your hand… Yes, oh my yes, me too. The feeling of being a big ol’ flop as a mother and as a woman seems to be confirmed every time I make a mistake, sin, or hurt someone’s heart. The Father continues to gently point out to me the many ways I’ve defaulted to working harder, trying harder, pushing myself harder in a vain attempt to regain a sense of value instead of resting in God’s certain and sure delight in me just as I am. My heart, the truest me, has paid the price. Do you consider your heart to be the most important thing about you? Or does it feel like your work, or your role at home, or your church leadership, or the services you perform — laundry, errands, cooking, wifing, mothering, endless cleaning — is all that’s valuable about you as a woman? Let me echo Stasi’s question: What makes you come alive? Have you even asked that of yourself or of the Lord? Maybe that feels ridiculously luxurious with the responsibilities you juggle. Ask it anyway! Come join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, editor, Faith.Full

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Every woman was once a little girl. And every little girl holds in her heart her most precious dreams. She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to be the beauty of the story. Those desires are far more than child’s play. They are the secret to the feminine heart.

And yet ― how many women do you know who ever find that life? As the years pass by, the heart of a woman gets pushed aside, wounded, buried. She finds no romance except in novels, no adventure except on television, and she doubts very much that she will ever be the Beauty in any tale.

Most women think they have to settle for a life of efficiency and duty, chores, and errands, striving to be the women they “ought” to be but often feeling they have failed. Sadly, too many messages for Christen women add to the pressure. “Do these ten things, and you will be a godly woman.” The effect has not been good on the feminine soul.

But her heart is still there. Sometimes when she watches a movie, sometimes in the wee hours of the night, her heart begins to speak again. A thirst rises within her to find the life she was meant to live ― the life she dreamed of as a little girl.

The message of Captivating is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offers to come now as the Hero of your story, to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating.
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