Wild at Heart by John Elderedge
A man’s heart was created to be wild, untamed, dangerous, and adventurous. His soul longs for passion, freedom, and life. Yet society and the church have driven his heart into the remote regions of the soul. Society has tried to make men more sensitive, safe, and feminine. The church has tried to tame men and make them into Really Nice Guys – a good boy.
The heart of a man desires (1) a battle to fight, (2) an adventure to live, and (3) a beauty to rescue.
A woman wants to be fought for, to be wanted, to be pursued. She also wants an adventure to share, and a beauty to unveil. Society kills a woman’s heart when it tells her to be tough, efficient, and independent. The church has told women to be “good servants.” No one is fighting for her heart; there is no adventure, and every woman doubts she has any beauty to unveil.
A man must know he is powerful, that he has what it takes. A woman must know she is beautiful and worth fighting for.
God is a fierce warrior; he is wild and adventurous; he takes immense risks; he is romantic and passionate. God also wants to be loved and wanted; he wants relationship for shared adventure; he has a beauty to unveil. Eve embodies the beauty, mystery, and tender vulnerability of God.
Every man’s fear is to be found out that he does not have what it takes, that he is not really a man. Adam failed to fight for Eve when she was being tempted, and every man since Adam carries the fear of a similar failure.
Boys are brought into the world by their mothers, but they can learn masculinity only from their fathers or from another man. Femininity cannot bestow masculinity. Once he reaches age 11 to 14 he begins to seek the answer to his Question: “Do I have what it takes?” It is at this time that boys receive a wound to their hearts from their fathers. Violent fathers tell their sons, “No, you are a mama’s boy,” or something similar. Passive fathers do not answer their sons’ questions, so the answer becomes, “I don’t know … I doubt it.” Every man carries a wound, and forms a false self to hide the wound. They become either (1) driven or (2) passive. A driven man is usually an overachiever who ignores his family and his health. A passive man has no passion and cannot commit to a woman because he is so uncertain of himself.
Men seek validation and the answer to their Question in various ways: by the groups they belong to, by what they own, by their social standing, but mostly by going to a woman. But a woman cannot bestow the validation a man seeks – femininity cannot bestow masculinity. A man must stop trying to seek validation from a woman; he must release her as the one who is supposed to make him a man.
In Eden, Adam chose Eve over God. We must reverse that decision and choose God over Eve. Only God can heal a man’s wound and validate him as a man.
God seeks to initiate a man into manhood by destroying the false self we have created to hide the wound. “Whoever tries to save his life will lose it.” We think that losing the false self will kill us, but we must be saved from our false selves, which will really destroy us. Once the wound has been exposed, we must grieve the wound and forgive our fathers for wounding us, and then we must admit our dependency on God and allow his love to heal us. Then God will tell us our name – the man he had in mind when he created us.
God created men to be his ultimate ally in the Great Battle against evil. The Enemy lies and says he does not exist, there is no battle, or your place is insignificant, and you aren’t armed for battle.
A warrior must serve a cause greater than his own self-preservation.
The false self, the sinful nature, causes a man to hesitate. It must be crucified; a man must defy his “flesh” or sinful nature and be bold when he would otherwise shrink from battle.
The world offers false battles, false adventures, and false beauties. It corrupts a man’s strength.
The Devil lies to you and seeks to destroy you because you are made in the image of God.
The Enemy will first deny that he exists, try to hinder your prayer life, and fill your mind with negative self-images. He throws out temptations, hoping we will swallow them. To counter the Enemy, we must hang on to the Truth.
If you discover the Enemy, he will try to intimidate you by increasing his attacks. But God will fight with us and for us.
Finally, the Enemy will try to cut a deal. We must cut no deals with the Enemy.
God has given us the weapons of war we need. We also need a “band of brothers” ready to “shed their blood” with us. We will suffer wounds, however – they are inevitable in combat.
Every little girl longs to know that she is lovely, that she will be pursued, that someone delights in her. Little girls are usually wounded by their fathers, either by abuse or abandonment. The message their hearts hear is “You are not beautiful, and no one will fight for you.”
A woman does not need a “nice guy” – a hesitant man; she needs a lover and a warrior to fight for her. Men hesitate to offer their strength because they know it isn’t enough. We need to offer it anyway.
The church tells a woman to be a “good servant,” but a woman is at her best when she is being a woman, using her beauty to arouse and inspire men to be warriors.
Life is not a problem to be solved, but an adventure to be lived. It only works when we embrace risk and live by faith. Do what makes you come alive, because the world needs people who have come alive.
Wild at Heart by John Elderedge