Elisabeth noticed Jim in college. She admired him from afar- his leadership, his strength of character, and most of all his passion for the Lord. And Jim liked Elisabeth. They hadn't known each other long when he told her how much he liked her. But there was a catch; he knew God was calling him to be a missionary in places and situations where he would need to be single. So they both continued their lives loving each other, but unsure if they could ever love each other as man and wife.
In Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot, through her own love story with her first husband, Jim, shows single men and women how to navigate their singleness. As her personal story unfolds, she weaves in her own biblical thoughts about romance and relationships, how to surrender all of our hopes and desires to God, and how to re-focus our hearts and thoughts on Jesus Christ, our ultimate and only love.
What I Liked
Many books have been written about singleness, love, marriage, and relationships, but this one is my favorite, and I believe, may be the best. And this is why:
1. From the beginning, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot put Jesus above themselves. It was always only ever about Jesus. They recognized that their feelings for each other were good and given by God, but also, that they could never be more important to each other than Jesus.
2. Elisabeth Elliot uses her own story and her own experiences. As I read, it felt like I was reading a suspenseful romance novel about two Christian people deeply in love with Christ and each other, but who did not know if they could ever marry. I learned without realizing I was learning, like I was learning with the young Elisabeth. Then occasionally, when Elisabeth came out of the story and into the present, it was more like listening to my grandmother share what God has taught her through all of her years on earth.
3. Elisabeth Elliot is always preaching, but never "preachy". She always shares the truth even if it is hard and does not avoid certain topics where people may struggle, but she always does so in love and at appropriate times. With the admonition is her own confessions of hardships, struggles, and areas that she herself failed.
4. When I read this book, I felt understood and loved as a single woman. Spoiler alert: Jim and Elisabeth Elliot do eventually get married. But as a single woman I never felt like it was another happy ending for everyone except me, because, even bigger spoiler alert, several years after they are married, Jim is killed. Elisabeth writes from the perspective of both joy and sorrow, singleness and marriage, loneliness and companionship, on the mission field and off the mission field. She truly understands both singleness and marriage, and I never felt she elevated one above the other or claimed one was easier than the other.
This is the second time I have read this book, and I learned so much each of those times. Except for the Bible, it is the non-fiction book I most recommend to both men and women.