This week marks the passing of a great woman — a passing from this life, and into the next. Elisabeth Elliot was a woman whose heart and affection for Jesus trumped her ministry, her personality, and even her love-life.
I had the opportunity to read many of her books growing up. In fact, my friend Jessie and I used to say that she basically “mentored” us through high school and college because we talked about her so much. Not only that, but I had the privilege of hearing her share her heart and thanking her face-to-face when she visited my university as the guest speaker one year.
If you don’t know much about her story and her life, I suggest you take the time to read up!
While some people remember Elisabeth as a fearless and faithful missionary to the savage Auca Indians, I remember her as the woman who played a role in shaping my views about love and healthy relationships. She taught me to pray over my love-life, long before it existed, and to work to align my will and my desires with the heart of Jesus above all else.
In remembrance of her great life and legacy, here are some of my favorite quotes from her work, Passion and Purity.
“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”
“If we hold tightly to anything given to us unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily ‘ours’ but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes.”
“But the question to precede all others, which finally determines the course of our lives is What do I really want? Was it to love what God commands, in the words of the collect, and to desire what He promises? Did I want what I wanted, or did I want what He wanted, no matter what it might cost?”
“What do women want today? What do men want? I mean, deep down. What do they really want? If ‘times’ have changed, have human longings changed, too? How about principles? Have Christian principles changed? I say no to the last three questions, an emphatic no. I am convinced that the human heart hungers for constancy. In forfeiting the sanctity of sex by casual, nondiscriminatory ‘making out’ and ‘sleeping around,’ we forfeit something we cannot well do without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.”
“We are always held in the love of God. We are never wholly at the mercy of other people – they are only “second causes,” and no matter how many second or third or fiftieth causes seem to be in control of what happens to us, it is God who is in charge, He who holds the keys, He who casts the lot finally into the lap. Trusting Him, then, requires that I leave some things to be decided by others. I must learn to relinquish the control I might wield over somebody else if the decision properly belongs to him. I must resist my urge to manipulate him, needle and prod and pester until he capitulates. I must trust God in him, trust God to do for both of us better than I know.”
“Women still dream and hope, pin their emotions on some man who doesn’t reciprocate, and end up in confusion.”
“When ours are interrupted, his are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable).”
“If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd.”
“Waiting silently is the hardest thing of all. I was dying to talk to Jim and about Jim. But the things that we feel most deeply we ought to learn to be silent about, at least until we have talked them over thoroughly with God.”
“Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone accept, His Lordship. The Cross, as it enters the love life, will reveal the heart’s truth.”
Which Elisabeth Elliot book or quote has been most meaningful for you? Comment below!
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
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