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Captivating, chapter 4

Captain’s Log, Stardate 07.08.2008

Hey guys, my Saturday post is below, but I’ll be out of town until Tuesday night, so no posts until then.

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Blog book giveaway:
My Monday book giveaway is RECONSTRUCTING NATALIE by Laura Jensen Walker.

The winner of the first copy of THE REDEMPTION by M.L. Tyndall is:
My Friday book giveaway is a second copy of THE REDEMPTION by M.L. Tyndall.
You can still enter both giveaways. Just post a comment on each of those blog posts. On TUESDAY (not Monday), I'll draw the winner for RECONSTRUCTING NATALIE and post the title for another book I'm giving away. Stay tuned!

Wounded: I agreed with some of the things said in this chapter, because it’s mirrored by the psychology classes I’ve taken. Women who don’t have supportive families develop defense mechanisms and believe things that shape how they live their adult lives. It’s 100% true.

The terrible stories about the women in the chapter made me very thankful for my own parents, who were good parents. And still are.

I am also very sharply aware that part of my problems with this chapter is because I have no children. I think that women who are mothers will resonate more with this chapter because of the children they raise, in combination with memories of how they themselves were raised as children.

The impact is lessened with me because I have no children. So read on, but realize my own personal outlook will bias how I react to the things in the chapter.

Mothers, Fathers and Their Daughters:
I do agree that many women are wounded by neglectful or abusive parents. It breaks my heart. The horror of child abuse is part of the reason I’m planning to give the tithe from my book advance to Zoe Children’s Homes in Thailand.

However, I was a bit disturbed that the author seemed to assume that all women were wounded, and that seems a sweeping generality. It’s almost like a challenge for every woman to find out how she was wounded, somehow.

In the guided journal, the author asks, “Is there a defining wound you remember receiving from your father or your mother? What happened?” It’s as if they’re probing, trying to make me find some way I was wounded. Well, everyone has at least one bad memory of home life because no parent is ever perfect.

I can’t say that something my mom said once to hurt me was a life-changing wound in my childhood. I don’t think it’s right ot think of my childhood that way. My parents weren’t perfect, but I knew they loved me. One or two cross words didn’t suddenly communicate to me that they didn’t love me.

I don’t think I was “wounded” by my parents at all. I was fortunate to have good parents, and I’m very thankful to God for them. But I still had problems from other areas of my life, plus I wasn’t a Christian and had never experienced the ultimate love, God’s love.

The sickly sweet picture of the perfect father and mother at the beginning of the chapter doesn’t appeal to me. All I can think of is that the girl will grow up spoiled.

“Shame is that feeling that haunts us, the sense that if someone really knew us, they would shake their heads in disgust and run away.”

I can relate to this. I didn’t feel confident enough in my own personality and I put up a mask so that I would fit in with everyone else, be part of the crowd.

But my secret desire was always to become a strong, but very feminine woman. A Regency lady with refinement and strength of character. A smart, savvy doctor who turned into a confident beauty when she just took off her glasses and let down her hair. An Amazon who looked sexy in armor. :)

Then I heard this phrase, and I’m not entirely certain where I heard it: “Your self-esteem is based on what you believe the most important people in your life believe about you.”

It’s a little complicated, but it means this: If my significant other is the most important person in my life, then whatever I think he believes about me determines my self-esteem. If I think he thinks I’m gorgeous, that’s what I’ll think about myself. If I think he thinks I’m okay, that’s what I’ll think about myself.

If my family are the most important people in my life, then my self-esteem will be based on what I think they think about me. If I’m supported and encouraged by them, then I’ll be a confident woman. If I feel like they ridicule me, then I’ll be insecure.

But if the most important person in my life is God, then I should be thoroughly confident in myself because God thinks I’m da bomb! However, I’m starting to see that there are two addendums to this: (1) I need to discover and believe how God thinks of me, and (2) His opinion of me has to eclipse what anyone else thinks of me.

(1) is hard if people don’t realize how much God loves them, or if they refuse to believe it. And I think some of the women wounded in this chapter probably have a problem with this. Personally, I did not. It was a relief for me to become a Christian and realize that someone thought I was terrific.

(2) was astruggle for me, because I had a hard time putting God’s opinion of me over everyone else. I wanted everyone to like me, and sometimes I didn’t feel like God was enough if the A-list crowd at church didn’t even notice I existed.

But in college and in the years after that, I started to change. It was slow going, but I stopped trying to fit in and instead let my true self out. I stopped caring if people thought I was odd, because I was revealing my true self, and that was empowering. I was becoming the strong but femnine woman I had always wanted to be.

My self-esteem isn’t perfect right now—I still struggle with it—but I am more grounded than I was ten years ago, because I’ve learned how to become grounded on Christ and His love for me. This is so freeing. I always regretted not coming to Christ earlier in my life.

An Unholy Alliance:
The things I struggled with make up who I am, and they even allow me to encourage other young women who struggle with their self-esteem in our church youth group, where I’m one of the leaders. In that case, God has used my wounds for good purpose.

I’m a bit bothered by the fact that the chapter seems to assume these wounds are all bad, that there’s nothing useful to come out of them because we were never meant to grow up as wounded women. I would never want the kind of abusive families that some of these women had, but I can’t say my wounds are useless. I have seen how God has used them.

“. . . our plan has nothing to do with God.”
The author assumes we have grown up without trusting God, that we have been shaped the way we are because we didn’t trust God, and that we continue not to trust God.

I didn’t trust God as a young woman, but that changed when I became a Christian in college.

“ . . . the wounds don’t stop once we are grown up . . . the assault against our heart continues into adulthood.”

I can’t say I’m never “wounded” now, but not in the way I was wounded as a child (and even then, it was not by my parents, it was other things in my environment). The difference is also that now, I am more able to see where my own sins come into play. So when I was “wounded” after college, part of the “wounding” from the people around me was mixed with my own inability to trust God, my own incredible selfishness.

I guess I don’t like that the authors seem to assume all wounding is never the fault of the woman herself, never a consequence of some sinful behavior. I’m not saying it’s always the woman’s fault, because there is some terrible abuse that goes on, but it’s as if the authors are absolving women of all blame from the evil that happens to them. As if women never put themselves in bad situations or make bad choices themselves.

The guided journal ends with a section asking a few questions, I think pointing to how we’ve been shaped by our wounds. One question, however, really impacted me:

“Are you aware of a mistrust of God deep in your heart?”

At first I was like, Yeah, of course, although I struggle with it a lot. I don’t want ot mistrust God. I want to trust Him wholeheartedly, in all aspects of my life.

Then I remembered my Bible study in Kay Arthur, how I was disappointed that while the young shepherd boy David had the faith to kill Goliath, later in his life when he ran from Saul, he didn’t seem to trust God enough to deliver him from his enemies like King Achish.

Even David struggled with completely trusting God—David, the man after God’s own heart. The realization made me feel better, made me stop beating myself up over it. I think that as long as I continue to try to trust Him completely, that God will be pleased with me.


Anonymous said…
"I guess I don’t like that the authors seem to assume all wounding is never the fault of the woman herself, never a consequence of some sinful behavior."

Amen to that! I used to believe that all the hurts and pain that I had was completely the fault of the world and other people. However, I've just started learning that sometimes it is the combination of our own sinful behaviour and others' behaviour that wounds us. It is bad to assume that all hurts stem purely from other's wounding. This was a really good post, Camy!
Anonymous said…
Hmm. You've given me a lot to think about as usual, Camy. I had never thought about myself as "wounded" either and yet there *are* certain things that still stick in my mind long after I should have forgotten them. I was certainly not abused. I guess what "wounded" me was the incidents that I, as the eldest, was punished for with spankings while the younger ones in the family didn't get any spankings. I found that very unjust.

Mine was a Christian family and I'd always tried to live by those principles and teachings in everything I did. But I think most people will have something in their lives that has "wounded" them in childhood because, as you say, parents make mistakes too. They act in frustration over something at work, or in my father's case, at university which, because of the War, he had to attend when I was already born.

I know I was proud of the fact that my parents trusted me with the 3 younger siblings and that people thought I was older than I actually was. That was not "bragging" proud, it was more a quiet "being confident in myself" proud. Yet when I was praised for getting good marks at school, I always sloughed that off so that people accused me of "false modesty". And I can remember that that hurt because I truly felt that was not my doing. God had had helped me, had given me parents who were intelligent had given me the intelligence to learn easily and well.

I'm trying to see these things in the light of this woundedness. I didn't have to think about this question at all. These things are always on my mind probably because I have such low self-esteem which is almost at its lowest ebb ever because of my illness and my inability to earn my own living. I hate being reliant on government handouts.

Argh, it's a puzzlement. We humans are such complicated beings. I have to think about this some more.
I’m a bit bothered by the fact that the chapter seems to assume these wounds are all bad, that there’s nothing useful to come out of them because we were never meant to grow up as wounded women.

This really struck a cord in me, Camy. I don't believe God allows anything to happen to us that he can't redeem. (well, duh, he's God. He can redeem anything.) I guess what I mean is, I believe everything that happens in our lives is screened by him. Even if we aren't trusting him, he's there. Even if we haven't given our lives to him, he's there. God uses all this stuff to bring our our hearts and souls to him and to relinquish ourselves to him.

It's only been the last year that I've embraced the fact that God loves me "just as I am" as Bridget Jones would say. LOL! But he truly does. That doesn't mean I don't need to change. It means he loves me in spite of my imperfections. I don't have to be perfect to be loved by him. That was a huge release for this perfectionist. It freed me in some ways to just be imperfect, knowing I'm safe in his net.
Malia Spencer said…
Thank you Camy, a lot of that spoke to my heart and issues I'm going through right now. I appreciate you sharing.
Geekwif said…
I read this book a while back and ended up not finishing because I simply couldn't relate to most of it. As I read, I found that I was searching for something that might have wounded me, and that really concerned me. I don't think we should ignore or "stuff" the bad things that happen to us, but it was like this book was making me try to turn my childhood into something miserable in my own memory, when I actually - like you - had good parents and a reasonably good childhood. I'm sure that wasn't the authors' intention, but nonetheless, I decided it wasn't healthy for me to think that way.

I really wanted to like this book. I read "Wild at Heart" in an effort to understand my husband better and found it very interesting and helpful. I guess I was just disappointed with this book because I thought I would be able to relate to it, but I couldn't.
Anonymous said…
Since I grew up in an alcoholic home that did inflict some pretty standard "wounds" I didn't have any trouble relating to the chapter or wording. I guess since I've also worked with inner city kids experiencing deep wounding as well, I looked at it from a different perspective. I think it's great that you and others don't have those deep wounds from childhood that you carry with the Bible says Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. If you're already whole, you can help be a source of healing for those who aren't or maybe learn a bit more about their experience and thinking. Just my two "wounded" cents! ;-)
Pfingston said…
Well, for those that don't have "wounds" I didn't like that they had you search for some. I like Dr. Laura and one of the things she's good at is leaving the past behind, moving on. Start "good" from here. You know.
Dr. Laura said in her book "Self-esteem is earned" "forged from your efforts" you accomplish something you gain esteem in you own eyes.

My darling husband is a good man, not perfect, but good. One thing he has lingering from his past and upbrining is negativity. So often I think that he doesn't like this or that about me, something that is very key to who I am. (ex. I am direct, he calls it bulldozer-y) but this doesn't affect me because of my already-in-tack self-esteem. It will bother me, but doesn't knock my self-esteem.
But yes, when there is no established self-esteem then it is harder to build if your swimming against the current. That where the most important people come in. True? Someone must of said - it is good. Oh yeah! God did! ;-)

But back to something you said at the beginning of your post: "But my secret desire was always to become a strong, but very feminine woman."

I agree! So totally! When I was in the National Guard we had what we would call ("we" being the other ladies in my company) the Victoria factor. Meaning underneath the greens you usually found something silky, pink, ruffly, perhaps laced with faux fur. I kept my hair long and layered, and one friend of mine always brought along fuzzy slippers and once she was done with her army time would require a "pink and fuzzy bubble bath". Why? The expression of strengh must be balanced with our womanhood! It was fun! Besides, I LOVED the transformation that could happen!
Lucy T said…
Camy - great post and long considering you were getting ready for a trip. I suppose you are there now and having a Mah-ve-lous time! Very astute to pick up that Staci never mentions those who brought the wounds on themselves.

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