“Wild at Heart” Review and Application

Joshua Alls, contributor – January 15, 2022

  • Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge challenges the church and men of the church to look at masculinity differently and experience more than being a ‘Nice Guy.’ John Eldredge has written other books that I would be interested in reading including The Sacred Romance and The Journey of Desire.
  • My cousin, Matthew Pridham (https://thescreamarchive.com/about) gave me this book for Christmas. When I saw this, I thought, Matthew may be looking for more out of me because I am generally a “nice guy” and a Christian; so I took this as a challenge to complete and have something to talk about with my cousin. I also am familiar with the book having the “Field Manual.” Matthew has given me Christmas gifts for many years in the form of books being an author, former professor, and bookseller himself. I confess that although I still have most of these books, this is probably one of the first if not the first one I have completed during the following year. Completing this book came fairly early during the year and about a month before my goal of completing it by his brother’s wedding. I do want to discover my masculinity at a deeper level and apply the principles I can learn from this book.
  • God is wild, and creation bears this image. It’s wild like Him. Many of us or, as the John Eldredge suggests, all of us have wounds often caused by someone masculine in our lives. For most of us, this wound came from our father. As a result, these wounds need healing. That healing and, for us men, masculinity can only come from someone masculine. We cannot get this healing from feminine figures in our lives including mothers or sisters or life partners. We should be looking toward God for this healing. Often, healing comes from men in our lives. These men encourage us and let us know in our lives that “we have what it takes” to be men and to be what God has made us to be.
  • There are enemies to face. A huge realization for me is that my true heart is “good” because God put that heart within me. There is a false self that is within me, a traitor, namely “the flesh.” The devil has also planted seeds in my mind and continually accuses and attempts to thwart this journey toward masculinity in me. And it’s true. This traitor is “ready” to turn toward what can destroy me and masculinity and as a counselor once told me toward sexual immorality or, particularly, pornography. The world and what it offers is another enemy. John Eldredge lays out in this book a strategy to confront these enemies.
  • John Eldredge describes the wounds that women receive from these enemies. He describes the “core desire” in men and women for romance and the role of men to rescue women as well as to invite them to adventure. Indeed, life is about adventure. We should not ask the question, “what does the world need more of?” Rather, we should ask, “what will bring us to life?” As John has discovered, “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
  • I have had a few adventures in reading this book. Just before Christmas, I came down with a sinus infection. I went to the emergency room and spent some time there reading. When I left there was a tumbleweed lodged between my car and a van parked beside me. I considered this. I looked around for what may happen in this situation. When I found myself alone with a thick tumbleweed, I felt I should find a way to remove this tumbleweed before driving away from the emergency room. I grabbed a large stick in the shape of a sickle and found a way to dislodge the tumbleweed. What an adventure. This seemed like a way that God wanted to communicate with me the principles of adventure and wildness to which He is calling me.
  • I felt I needed to dream and make commitments to live more of the life this book calls us to during 2022. A big part of this is listening to God daily and growing closer to his heart. Another big part of this is finding adventure on which to bring my family with me. Part of this adventure is music with my wife and daughter. She would like to audition for our worship team. When she is ready, I can imagine that she will. My daughter enjoys music. She enjoys to sing. She also enjoys playing instruments like myself. Often my daughter will notice me playing an instrument, she will want to join in with me with an instrument of her own. She is learning her ukulele, her piano, and her flute. That was a place God spoke to me as we sang karaoke together one night. I have the opportunity to lead worship at home starting with my family.
  • I found opposition as I continued to read and apply the principles of this book. Not long after the New Year, I got coronavirus. I was sitting in the waiting room of urgent care reading this book when I was called back for my appointment. I asked for a COVID test even though I had taken one within the previous two weeks because of the symptoms I had experienced that day. “How would God use this situation?,” I wondered. When I experienced my struggle with my addiction during my illness, I also felt that I had failed and was on track to continue down that road during that time.
  • Unwilling to repeat that I continued to fail, I kept reading. That is when I faced the imposter or traitor of the flesh and the reality that I am more than just a “sinner” saved by grace but truly have a “good” heart placed within me by God. I made a recommitment to live in this truth and not to feed the traitor what he would be ready to turn towards. I was confronted with our church’s small group “covenant” during our small group study together as a couple, Did I have an issue with not watching “sexually explicit material” out of the possibility of embarrassing my wife or family? Or solicitation? This was a reality check for me.
  • That is where application comes into play. I wrote out my “why statement” for the CPA during a training. I plan to keep this covenant where I can see it regularly when I am struggling because this is a battle for which I should be prepared. It’s time to dream again about adventure and making a difference for others in ways that can bring me alive.
  • “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” – C.S. Lewis
  • “The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buechner
  • “Beauty is not only a terrible thing, it is also a mysterious thing. There God and t he Devil strive for mastery, and the battleground is the heart of men.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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