Ah, thrift stores: the haphazard museums of the recent past. As a girl with old-fashioned tastes, I’m sure to part with at least a few dollars to gain a favorite skirt, the most comfortable chairs, or some treasured books or music. I’ve met many close friends in thrift stores. Twila Paris, Point of Grace, Andrew Murray, and now Elisabeth Elliot, while hard to find in modern music aisles and bookstores, are familiar faces in the secondhand realms.
So it is that I find a copy of Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control. What a sweet little book. Having received numerous letters and questions about romance and relationships, Elisabeth Elliot writes of her desire to keep the Lord as her first love, her courtship with Jim, and wisdom on the subject of relationships that she has gained over the years.
This is a short recommendation for the book, as I believe it could be a benefit to any woman. I was eager to read it as soon as I bought it, not because I as a single woman am eager to seek out the prospect of marriage. I used to be an avid story writer, and, being analytical, sometimes took tales of romance further and into more detail than is godly. The imagination wasn’t something Elisabeth Elliot directly addressed in these terms, but reading her gentle call to dedicate virginity to the Lord gave me a clearer opportunity to dialogue with the Lord about some of my thoughts, fears, and struggles in the area of romance.
Midway through the book, Elisabeth Elliot talks about some of the struggles women have with their interactions with men. I can identify in general with wanting to be controlling of my circumstances, even when that includes other people. While convicting, this was also very encouraging. I’ve never been much into hair or make-up or talking about boys, so in reading Passion and Purity, I got a chance to understand more fully who I am as a woman, though I be a rough and tumble one.
Perhaps the most significant way this book has impacted me is in fleshing out what it means to wait, and the value and beauty that comes from such an unexpected place. Again, I am coming to this book from a point in my life where I single, and willing to stay so. What I came to understand more personally in reading Jim’s letters and Elisabeth’s reflections is that the Lord has called me to wait on Him. Waiting is a struggle. Jim and Elisabeth were in love for five years before the Lord gave them permission to marry, and they thought often of each other in that time. In the same way, there is the wedding supper of the Lamb. I’m not there yet, but I long to be. Sometimes I feel that more should be happening in my life as I seek to follow the Lord, and wonder if I am doing something wrong that so little is happening around me. Perhaps He feels further from stirring my emotions than I would like. My life as a missionary has not “taken off” yet in the way I hope it will, and that can be hard to accept. What I appreciate is that this book is from the perspective of missionaries. So many biographies gloss over five or ten years in the second or third chapter, and dive right into the meat of the action. Of course books have to do that, but if you’re still living in chapter two, it can be easy to feel as though the calling has passed you by. Passion and Purity is a book about waiting. Those five years are given one hundred and eighty-eight pages of attention: a comforting reminder that the Lord has not forgotten a little heart that beats for Him, and that there is greater joy in the fulfillment for having waited.
I’ve written more of what I personally gained from reading this book, though there is certainly much more. The majority of what I gleaned was related to my relationship with the Lord. It is, of course, a book about a very human romance, so there will certainly be much to gain in that avenue, but all such relationships best begin with the Lord. For that reason, I believe this book would be a help and encouragement to all women, particularly those that seek after the Lord.
If you have read Passion and Purity, or have more questions about it, please feel free to comment. I would to hear from you and discuss it.
The Lord be near, my sisters.