Pulling Back the Shades, A Book Review

I started this book review purely altruistically—to write a review that might help others who really need to read the book. I mean, after all, I have my own set of temptations and struggles, but erotica isn’t one of them. And my marriage of 11 years isn’t perfect by any means, but I’ve also read most of the relationship books recommended by Focus on the Family. What new, life changing information could this book have to offer?

Through the second chapter, my expectations were confirmed. But by the time I got to chapter 7, “The Spiritually Satisfied Woman”, I was convicted, challenged, inspired and refreshed.

Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh collaborate seamlessly in their new book, Pulling Back the Shades. Instead Unknownof blending their voices, they alternate, often switching authors in the middle of a chapter. Different fonts designate who is speaking. Neither woman dominates the book; both write from their expertise. Even though they admit they differ on a few issues and come from vastly different backgrounds, Dr. Slattery and Gresh present a powerful, united front on a sensitive subject that provokes many disagreements among believers, if we even have the courage to discuss it.

The first half of the book is devoted to explaining erotica. This includes the chemical effect that it has on the brain, the addictive nature, the conflicts about it within the church, a discussion of the “grey” areas and a staunch stance against it based on the Word of God. Dr. Slattery and Gresh write graphically, borrowing short segments from the book, Fifty Shades of Grey, to make their points.

The authors’ opinion is uncompromising. To sum it up in a simple statement, without re-writing the book: God’s ideal for sex is unabashed, exciting, varied, exquisite intimacy within the bonds of marriage.

I mentioned that my heart began to resonate with the book beginning in chapter 7. This is where Dr. Slattery and Gresh delve into the incredible and unique intimacy that God wants to have with each of us.

Here, they debunk the myth that God promises every woman a “happily ever after”, fulfilling, intimate relationship with a man—even after marriage.

“I bet you’ve never heard a sermon on what God does not promise. This is unfortunate because it is quite dangerous to place your trust in things you falsely assume God has promised. Jesus said that He came that you may have life and have it abundantly. His promises are great and He is trustworthy in fulfilling each one. But His ways are not our ways, and He has not promised some of the things you may have assumed or hoped He has.”

The authors mention a quote by Dr. Larry Crabb, “God is all I need, but I don’t know Him well enough for Him to be all I have.”

This brought a twinge of conviction and a huge sigh of relief. I do not need to fret over whether my husband ever becomes more like Prince Charming. I must know God well enough that He is not only all I need, but all I have.

The book closes with numerous Scripture references and gentle guidance to help readers begin deepening their intimate relationship with Jesus. It even includes discussion questions, practical resources (other books and websites) as well as enumerated suggestions for practical application.

This book is applicable to all women in all relationships—even those who are single—and those who don’t think they have a problem with erotica. The book covers all aspects of a woman’s relational needs and explains where fulfillment is found.

Guest Post: Beth Petrashek

What’s Wrong With Me?

I’m sitting at my 6 year old niece’s soccer game with my mom, sister-in-law and 8 year old niece. I’m not really listening to my mom’s conversation until I hear her say, “I just can’t believe Mary is still single! She’s in her 30’s! What is wrong with her?” I had been broken up with my college boyfriend for 7 months. The man I thought, I just KNEW, I would marry. I’m 25 years old. I’m still heart-broken. And, I’m single.

“What’s wrong with me? Am I not loveable? I know I’m fat. I know I’m not very pretty. It’s got to be that! All the pretty skinny girls have diamonds on their hands. I’m just not good enough!”

These were the lies I told myself. Every. Single. Day.

“There’s something wrong with me. No one will ever love me.” My first realization that there wasn’t something wrong with me was Christmas 2003. I realized, as I was sitting in the mall, that its “easy” to be in a relationship. Most EVERYONE is in one, almost like it’s the thing to do. I looked around as people were walking by and saw that all kinds of people were “together.” It hit me then that I could really be in a relationship if I wanted. Now, I might have to go to the bar and let my standards go, but I could be dating if I wanted.

I’m too fat and/or ugly for someone to want to marry me.” I still remember the day that my #1 lie was broken. I met a very heavy girl in her early 20’s with the most beautiful wedding ring. “WHAT? I thought I wasn’t married b/c I was fat???? Now, what?”

It was then that God started working on my heart and the lies I was telling myself every day. He would, in His timing, bring me someone and I just needed to wait. This brought a motto I used almost daily for years, and still use today: “Pray and Wait.”

My mom’s question at the soccer field was to my sister-in-law, but I answered her back, “Nothing is wrong with her!” I never want my young nieces to believe that there is something “wrong” with them if they don’t live a life that others expect. That society expects.

Pray and wait. It’s not always fun, but it’s what we do. I grew daily in this singleness thing. I hated it some days and absolutely LOVED it others. During this time, I built an amazing foundation for my relationship with Christ. When I did fall away, I still knew His word was truth and would carry me.

What I learned was that it’s ok to be single! It can actually be fun! I taught myself that there are pro’s and con’s to single-life and in marriage. I made an effort to enjoy every single day in the place God had me. In fact, I was taught by a friend of mine that it’s better to be single than marry the wrong person! To be single and lonely and know why you are lonely is one thing. But, to be married and lonely with that man sitting next to you is unbearable. It’s better to wait for the right one. It broke my heart to see some of my girlfriends find a false sense of security in what they believed marriage would give them and then end up divorced. We all want to feel worthy as a wife, a mom, or as a woman and that is great, but it’s miserable with the wrong person. So, take the time you are single to spend all your time doing what exactly what you want.

Are you single? Are you married and lonely? What are the lies you tell yourself?

Do they sound something like this?

“God must not love me.”

“God apparently doesn’t think I’m good enough for anyone.”

“Its never going to happen for me.”

Whatever the lie is, I can promise you that it hurts! We have to guard our hearts with TRUTH! Speak truth into your life! If you don’t, who will? Change your thought life and begin to take your thoughts captive! Surround yourself with people who speak TRUTH into you!!! One of the most beneficial things I have been told in the last month is, “You can allow all people to speak to you, but only a few people GET to speak over you and into you.” (Miranda Burcham, http://www.pressonfitness.com)

2 Corinthian 10:5 tells us  that we need to be “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” If we are telling ourselves lies, we are exalting our own opinions above God’s! We are saying He is wrong! We are to take those lies and anything else we are placing above Him into captivity so that we are obedient to Christ.

God created you beautiful! He created you exactly the way He wanted. He didn’t make a mistake. He loves you more than any other person even can.  Psalm 139 shows us that God knows us very well. He knew us before anyone every had a thought on us. He made you and me “wonderfully”! You are not a mistake!

The verse that I clung so hard to while I was single was 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” His grace is always 100% sufficient…to supply your needs, to be enough love for you, to give you a way out of every temptation, to sustain you in trials. I got to the point in a my single life that I would gladly boast in my weakness so that He alone was glorified!!! I didn’t find my husband until I was 30 years old (and married him at 31). God received all the glory for it b/c I lived a life showing others that it had NOTHING to do with me and my efforts. If we don’t share with others our trials and our pain and just stuff what is going on inside of us, we can’t encourage one another. And, God is not proclaimed. If we don’t learn from our trials and become more like Christ, we go through them for nothing.

My prayer is that you don’t lose heart. That you will dig into His Word and believe what is true and stop filling your thought-life with lies. God is greater than any lie we tell ourselves. It saddens Him that we hate ourselves so much. Start today! Take one positive affirmation (I am beautiful!) and say it to yourself 3 times a day for a month….do it! Just see what happens!

Exceedingly Abundantly Above