This portion of my series will go through chapters 3-8. I’m going to try to avoid excessive use of quotes as my last post felt a bit fragmented after reading it over several times.
One of the concepts casually discussed in this chapter is the author being asked out on a date by a man that was part of a “bachelors club.” The author states that the men in this “club” have to ask a different girl out every week. And the author’s friend comments on how a boy that asked the author to go on a date for this reason was “flattering.” I know the author grew up in another period of time, but this idea is horrible no matter the time period.
The author dreams of finding her ideal man. All the while fighting with the idea that she should fully commit every aspect of her life over to g-d, including his or her dating life. One of her included diary entries for this chapter is “October 26 – Read about Henry Martyn of India, who had to choose between the woman he loved and the mission field. Shall I have to choose between marriage and mission?”
This level of commitment to g-d is stressed throughout the book. Our desires and passions should only be to g-d. Anything else is foolish and selfish.
Once again the idea that we need to defeat our “fleshly” desires is brought forward. Elizabeth mentions “ruling” over her will and affections. The problem with this is that it brings a negative view of self in. Your body is something that you “fight” against. Learning to destroy those, so called, evil desires and affections. This quote should be a bit telling as well. As the author reminds the reader how this will be a painful experience.
“Bringing anything at all into order – a messy room, a wild horse, a recalcitrant child – involves some expenditure. Time and energy at least are required. Per haps even labor, toil, sacrifice, and pain. The answer to the above prayer – the bringing of our unruly wills and affections into order -will cost us something.” p30
This is not at all a healthy view of one’s self. Yes, everyone is at some point required to learn restraint. And you can’t have everything that you desire in life. However, pushing all affection and desires away is something that is not healthy or recommended. Learning what you desire romantically and sexually is a healthy part of growing as a teen and young adult. Do not shut that part of yourself off. Because, at least in my experience, it’s a lot harder to try to turn all that back “on” and find out what you do desire as an adult.
The author’s ideal man is a found within this chapter a man who was “a real man, strong, broadchested, unaffected, friendly, and I thought, very handsome. He loved god.” In his first major interaction or with the author this so called ideal man reads scripture and lectures her about her “reticence.” Which basically means reserved. Jim Elliot lectured Elizabeth about not being more outgoing and bold for g-d. And how g-d could better use her if she would be “more open, more friendly.” The author was initially hurt by this but ended up deciding that this conversation only proved that Jim would be willing to “speak the truth to me faithfully.”
I hope most people can see the issue with this. Also this whole conversation seems very patronizing. Why was the man assumed to have better spiritual leadership? Especially with a person that he didn’t even have a friendship with. She was only an acquaintance at this point. But yet the author took his advice immediately and went about trying to be “more bold” for g-d.
This chapter also rehashes the idea that our will must completely be erased. Our will is to “die”, and g-d’s will is to be put in the stead of our own. I think this quote summarizes how she applies this idea to the idea of romance and love.
“Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone to accept, His Lordship. The Cross, as it enters the love life, will reveal the heart’s truth. My heart, I knew, would be forever a lonely hunter unless settled ‘where true joys are to be found.’
One morning I was reading the story of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. The disciples could find only find only five love of bread and two fishes. ‘let me have them,’ said Jesus. He asked for all. He took them, said the blessing, and broke them before he gave them out. I remembered what a chapel speaker, Ruth Stull of Peru, had said: ‘If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.'” p37
So she is saying that you will only find peace in your love life if you brokenly and fully give full control over to g-d the only place of “true joys.” That g-d will only be able to use you if you are first broken and surrendered. And what are you suppose to be surrendered to? It is the “will of g-d.”
The line of thought here leaves the reader unable to find joy without the presence of a divine being. And not just unconditional love, no, this divinity demands a full sacrifice of your life and mind. His will is always over the worshiper demanding full attention. No part of you is allowed to remain in control.
This chapter discussed the “lies” that Satan may use to lead one astray from full committal of the will to g-d. One of her argument is the following quote. The author is talking with a young friend in college in the quote.
“The blue eyes filled with tears. ‘Doesn’t He [g-d] want me to be happy?’ (I heard an echo of Eve in Eden.) ‘He wants you most to be holy.'” p39
She argues that g-d doesn’t care about your happiness. G-d doesn’t want to make his people happy; he wants to bring them closer to him. She explains that g-d may use a poor or ugly spouse to humble a Christian.
Elisabeth states we aren’t allowed to question the will or purpose of g-d. She even sarcastically quips that she thought to reply “Three more days, then go out and either ask someone to marry you or hand yourself” in response to the question. “What do you do when you feel you’ve come to a point that your singlehood appears to be an inadequate status for deep persona growth? How long do you hang on?” But she then corrects herself and then concludes that it is the devil causing one to question the one’s singleness and struggles with impatience.
Fully putting blame of a desire that may cause you to question god on Satan is an effective tactic. But it throws further evidence onto the theory that man is “sinful.” If you listen to or entertain those thoughts and questions about g-d’s will then you are sinning. Sinning is bad and therefore you are a bad person. Every time you struggle with questioning or temptation you are reminded of how fallen and bad you really are.
In this particular portion of the book the author tells of her struggles with loving g-d more than the idea of a relationship with Jim. She concludes with the statement that she needs to fully give her wishes and wants over to g-d. Even if that means g-d may take away her relationship with Jim.
This chapter further explores the idea of full surrender to g-d. She describes this as fully surrendering to your “master” as a “servant.” And this is a relationship that is only to benefit g-d. We are not to ask, “what’s in it for me?”
In fact the author stops to mock teenage pregnancy and states that teen pregnancy is caused by people’s selfishness. And by selfish behavior passed down from family members that are just saying “It’s my life, what is what I want.” The author states that the only other way is abandoning our selfish ways and fully obeying g-d’s commands.
The lack of understanding around teen pregnancy and lack of understanding just makes me sad. This mentality is prevalent, with teen pregnancy statics often used in purity culture to scare or force a moral choice. No understanding or compassion is ever put forth. Only judgement and a “moral lesson” to learn from these “mistakes.”
In this particular case the argument that “selfishness” is the cause of teen pregnancy has a lot of flaws. It assumes that any form of desire for sexual satisfaction is wrong (outside of marriage) and that if you fulfil that human desire it is an evil thing. Also she very casually refers to modern “girls” as mostly motivated by selfish desires. A negative generalization like that is bound to have problems, and shows the authors ignorance.
The author does not take time to sit and talk with anyone or even to properly research statistics surrounding teen pregnancy. She merely quotes another author, draws her own conclusions, and passes judgement along. Assuming the moral high ground and informing the “fallen” how they should have acted.
To be honest this section of the book just feels like more of the same. Following g-d is further stressed, and further imagery is used for that idea. That the reader must present themselves as a broken, sinful man before g-d. Becoming g-d’s literal slave, and following The Master’s wishes completely. I know I’m summarizing, but she has used each of those words to describe her relationship with g-d.
I will continue to work through the book. Though I may start skipping chapters if they are extremely close in content to previous ones. Her format is normally 3-8 pages per chapter so there are a decent number of chapters in the book (43).