Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge

I read this book quite a while ago, but I have just gotten around to combining those highlighted parts of the book into one place. This book was my first insight into a bit about men in general. It really put some things in perspective about what it means to be a man. This book has been very popular and rightfully so; it reminds us men about what being a man is about. It’s about adventure. He definitely brings to light some of the aspects of everyday life that have desensitized us and turned us into submissive and passive me. He reminds us that we can’t live that life as men and have any sort of real felling of fulfillment. Grab Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge for yourself.

Wild at Heart

What makes you come alive? What stirs your heart?

In the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.

Aggression is part of the masculine design.

The wounds he will take throughout his life will cause him to lose heart if all he has been trained to be is soft. This is especially true in the murky waters of relationships, where a man feels least prepared to advance.

Every man wants to play the hero. Every man needs to know that he is powerful.

The recipe for fun is pretty simple raising boys: Add to any activity an element of danger, stir in a little exploration, add a dash of destruction, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Adventure requires something of us, puts us to the test. Though we may fear the test, at the same time we yearn to be tested, to discover that we have what it takes.

There is nothing so inspiring to man as a beautiful woman.

A man wants to be the hero to the beauty.

Every woman yearns to be fought for. She wants to be more than noticed – she wants to be wanted. She wants to be pursued.

Every woman also wants an adventure to share. A woman doesn’t want to be the adventure; she wants to be caught up into something greater than herself.

And finally, every woman wants to have a beauty to unveil. Do you see me? asks the heart of every girl. And are you captivated by what you see?

What if those deep desires in our hearts are telling us the truth, revealing to us the life we were meant to live? A woman must know she is beautiful, she must know she is worth fighting for.

The Wild One Whose Image We Bear

The ultimate risk anyone ever takes is to love, for as C.S. Lewis says, “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to the no one, not even an animal.”

There is also something wild in the heart of a woman, but it is feminine to the core, more seductive than fierce.

There is Eve. Creation comes to its high point , its climax with her.

The Question that Haunts Every Man

Why won’t he engage?

“All men die; few men ever really live.” And so most women lead lives of quite resignation, having given up on their hope for a true man.

What are so many men addicted to sports? Why do so many others lose themselves in their careers? It’s no coincidence that man men fall into an affair not for love, not even for sex, but, by their own admission, for adventure.

If a man does not find those things for which his heart is made, if he is never even invited to live for them from his deep heart, he will look for them in some other way.

This is every man’s deepest fear: to be exposed, to be found out, to be discovered as an imposter, and not really a man.

We doubt very much that we have any real strength to offer, and we’re pretty certain that if we did offer what we have it wouldn’t be enough.

Desire reveals design, and design reveals destiny.

Every man repeats the sin of Adam, every day. We don’t risk, we don’t fight, and we won’t rescue Eve.

Now every daughter of Eve wants to “control her surrounding, her relationships, her God.” No longer is she vulnerable; now she will be grasping. No longer does she want simply to share in the adventure; now, she wants to control it. And as for her beauty, she either hides it in fear and anger, or she uses it to secure her place in the world.

Most of what you encounter when you meet a man is a façade, an elaborate fig leaf, a brilliant disguise.

We pick only those battles we are sure to win, only those adventures we are sure to handle, only those beauties we are sure to rescue.

All that swaggering and supposed confidence and heard charging come out of fear – the fear that if I did not, I would be revealed to be less than a man.

But he’s a coward. Men who can’t commit to the woman they’ve been dragging along for years.

I am faced with the reality that I now have this woman as my constant companion and I have no idea what it really means to love her, nor if I have whatever it is she needs from me.

The Wound

Every man carries a wound.

I was a very driven man, a perfectionist, a hard-changer, and a fiercely independent man. But behind me was string of casualties – people I had hurt, or dismissed – including my own father. You can never admit need, never admit brokenness. This is the story of the creation of that false self.

Men either overcompensate for their wound and become driven (violent men), or they shrink back and go passive (retreating men).

The Battle for a Man’s Heart

Women are often attracted to the wilder side of a man, but once having caught him they settle down to the task of domesticating him. Ironically, if he gives in he’ll resent her for it , and she in turn will wonder where the passion has gone.

The Father’s Voice

No man, for any considerable period of time, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to the which may be the truth. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Walking Away From the Woman

As we walk away from the false self, we will feel vulnerable and exposed. We will be sorely tempted to turn to our comforters for some relief, those places that we’ve found solace and rest. Because so many of us turned to the woman for our sense of masculinity, we must walk away from her as well. I do not mean you leave your wife. I mean you stop looking to her to validate you, stop trying to make her come through for you, stop trying to get you answer from her. For some men, this may mean disappointing her. If you’ve been a passive man, tiptoeing around your wife for years, never doing anything to rock the boat, then it’s time to rock it. Stand up to her; get her mad at you. For those of you violent men (including achievers), it means you stop abusing her. You release her as the object of your anger because you release her as the one who was supposed to make you a man. Repentance for a driven man means you become kind. Both types are still going to the woman. Repentance depends on which way you’ve approached her.

But I have counseled many young men to break up with the woman they were dating because they had made her their life. She was the sun of his universe, around which he orbited. A man needs a much bigger orbit than a woman. He needs a mission, a life purpose, and he needs to know his name. Only then is he fit for a woman, for only then does he have something to invite her into. A friend tells me that in the Masai tribe in Africa , a young men cannot court a woman until he has killed a lion. That’s their way of saying, until he has been initiated. I have seen far too many young men commit a kind of emotional promiscuity with a young woman. He will pursue her, not to offer his strength but to drink from her beauty, to be affirmed by her and feel like a man. They will share deep, intimate conversations. But he will not commit; he is unable to commit. This is very unfair to the young lady. After a year of the sort of relationship a dear friend said, “I never felt secure in what I meant to him.”

When we feel the pull toward the golden-haired woman, we must recognize that something deeper is at play. As Bly says,

What does it mean when a man falls in love with a radiant face across the room? It may mean that he has some soul work to do. His soul is the issue. Instead of pursing the woman and trying to get her alone… he needs to go along himself, perhaps to a mountain cabin, for three months, write poetry, canoe down a river, and dream. That would save some women a lot of trouble. (Iron John)

Again, this is not permission to divorce. A man who has married a woman has made her a solemn pledge; he can never heal his wound by delivering another to the one he promised to love. Sometimes she will leave him; that is another story. Too many men run after her, begging her not to go. If she has to go, it is probably because you have some soul work to do. What I am saying is that the masculine journey always takes a man away from the woman, in order he may come back to her with his question answered. A man does not go to a woman to get his strength; he goes to her to offer it. You do not need the woman for you to become a great man, and as a great man you do not need the woman. As Augustine said, “Let my soul praise you for all these beauties, but let it not attach itself to them by the trap of love,” the trap of addiction because we’ve taken our soul to her for validation.

But there is an even deeper issue than our question. What else is it we are seeking from the Woman with the Golden Hair? What is that ache we are trying to assuage with her? Mercy, comfort, beauty, ecstasy – in a word, God. I’m serous. What we are looking for is God.

There was a time when Adam drink deeply from the source of all Love. He – our first father and archetype – lived in an unbroken communion with the most captivating, beautiful, and intoxicating Source of life in the universe. Adam had God. True, it was not good fro man to be alone, and God in his humility gave us Eve, allowed us to need her as well. But something happened at the Fall; something shifted. Eve took the place of God in man’s life. Let me explain.

Adam was not deceived by the serpent. Did you know that? Paul makes that clear in 1 Timothy 2:14 – Adam did not fall because he was deceived. His sin was different; in some ways, it was more serious in that he did it with open eyes. We do not know how long it lasted, but there was a moment in Eden when Eve was fallen and Adam was not; she had eaten, but he yet had a choice. I believe something took place in he heart that went like this: I have lost my ezer kenegdo, my soul mate, the most vital companion I’ve known. I do not know what life will be like, but I know I cannot live without her.

Adam chose Eve over God.

If you think I exaggerate, simply look around. Look at all the art, poetry, music, drama devoted to the beautiful woman. Listen to the language man use to describe her. Watch he powerful obsession at work. What else can this be but worship? Men come into the world without the God who was our deepest joy, our ecstasy. Aching for we know not what, we meet Eve’s daughters and we are history. She is the closest thing we’ve ever encountered, the pinnacle of creation, the very embodiment of God’s beauty and mystery and tenderness and allure. And what goes out to her is not just our longing for Eve, but our longing for God as well. A man without his true love, his life, his God, will find another. What better substitute than Eve’s daughters? Nothing else in creation even comes close.

To a young man who had never been without a girlfriend since the eighth grade, I gave the advice that he should break up, call of all dating for one year. From the look on his face you’d have thought I told him to cut off his arm… or something worse. Do you see what is at work here? Notice that the struggle with pornography or masturbation is most difficult when you are lonely, or beat up, or longing for comfort to your wound. The longing for the ache to go away, and the pull toward other comforters can seem overwhelming. I’ve watched it in many men. I know it in myself. But if this is the water you are truly thirsty for, then why do you remain thirsty after you’ve had a drink? It’s the wrong well.

We must reserve Adam’s choice; we must choose God over Eve. We must take our ache to him. For only in God will we find the healing of our wound.

Healing the Wound

Tears are healing

Abiding in the love of God is our only hope, the only true home for our hearts. It’s not that we mentally acknowledge that God loves us. It’s that we let our hearts come home to him, and stay in his love.

Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and then discovering the prisoner was you.

Forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling, but an act of the will. As Neil Anderson has written, “Don’t’ wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving; you will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice of forgiveness is made.””

A Battle to Fight: The Enemy

Your flesh is a weasel, a poser, and a selfish pig. And you flesh is not your. Your flesh is not the real you.

I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within my and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of my covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge . ( The Message )

“I am not really the one doing it, the sin within me is doing it.” My sin is not me – this is not my true heart.

The Bid Lie in the church today is that you are nothing more than “a sinner saved by grace.” You are a lot more than that.

The real you is on the side of God against the false self. We are told to shoot the traitor. How? Choose against him every time you see him raise his ugly head. Walk right into those situations you normally run from. Speak right to the issues you normally remain silent over. If you want to grow in true masculine strength, then you must stop sabotaging yours.

Where does your own sense of power come from? Is it how pretty your wife is? Is it knowledge – that you have an expertise and that makes others bow to you, bow to you? Is it your position, degree, or title? What happens inside you when I suggest that you give it up? Where am I deriving my sense of strength and power from? Is a good question to ask yourself…often.

The world of posers is shaken by a real man. They’ll do whatever it takes to get you back in line – threaten you, bribe you, seduce you, undermine you. Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.

A Battle to Fight: The Strategy

Follow this: So long as a man remains no real threat to the Enemy, Satan’s line to him is You’re fine. But after you do take sides, it becomes Your heart is bad and you know it.

All the while we believe that it’s us, we are blowing it, we’re to blame, and the Enemy is laughing because we’ve swallowed the lie “I’m not here, it’s just you.”

Satan doesn’t throw a thought at us; he throws feelings too.

Stand on what is true and do not let go. Period.

“Be strong and very courageous.. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:6-7, 9

All men die, few men ever really live.

The point is simply to do whatever brings me back to my heart and the heart of God.

Ecstasy and delight are essential to the believer’s soul and they promote sanctification. We are not meant to live without spiritual exhilaration… The believer is in spiritual danger if he allows himself to go for any length of time without tasting the love of Christ… When Christ ceases to fill the heart with satisfaction, our souls will go in silent search of other lovers. (The Thought of God)

A Beauty to Rescue

You’ll be glad every night That you treated her right. ~George Thorogood

Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen. This is core to her identity, the way she bears the image of god. Will you pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight for me? And like every little boy, she has taken a wound as well. The wound strikes right at the core of her heart of beauty and leaves a devastating message with it: No. You’re not beautiful and no one will really fight for you. Like your wound, hers almost always comes at the hand of her father.

Like so many unloved young women, Stasi turned to boys to try to hear what she never heard from her father. But when a woman never hears she’s worth fighting for, she comes to believe that’s the sort of treatment she deserves. And let me tell you, a hesitant man is the last thing in the world a woman needs. She needs a lover and a warrior, not a Really Nice Guy. Her worst fear was realized – I will never really be loved, never really be fought for. And so she hid some more.

The number one problem between men and their women is the we men, when asked to truly fight for her…hesitate. We are still seeking to save ourselves; we have forgotten the deep pleasure of spilling our life for another.

If the man refuses to offer himself, then his wife will remain empty and barren. A violent man destroys with his words; a silent man staves his wife.

Most men, you see, marry for safety; they choose a woman who will make them feel like a man but never really challenge them to be one.

Why don’t men offer what they have to their women? Because we know down in our guts that it won’t be enough.

No matter how good a man you are you can never be enough. If she’s the report card on your strength then you’ll ultimately get an F. But that’s not why you love her – to get a good grade. You love her because that’s what you are made to do; that’s what a real man does.

“The universe is so vast and so ageless that the life of one man can only be justified by the measure of his sacrifice.”

An Adventure to Live

I want to live my whole life like that. I want to love with much more abandon and stop waiting for others to love me first.

Life is not a problem to be solved; it is an adventure to be lived. A man just won’t be happy until he’s got adventure in his work, in his love and in his spiritual life.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

You literally sacrifice your soul and your true power when you insist on controlling things.

What it comes to living and loving, what’s required is a willingness to jump in with both feet and be creative as you go.

A woman doesn’t want to be related to with formulas, and she certainly doesn’t want to be like a project that has answers to it. She doesn’t want to be solved; she wants to be known.

A man is never more a man than when he embraces adventure beyond his control, or when he walks into a battle he isn’t sure of winning.
The control we so desperately crave is an illusion.

“What are you teaching me here, God? What are you asking me to do… or to let go of? What in my heart are you speaking to?”

Writing the Next Chapter

Obey God in the thing he shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. God will never reveal more truth about himself until you have obeyed what you know already. ~ Oswald Chambers

Now, reader, it is your turn to write – venture forth with God. Remember, don’t ask yourself what the world needs…

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jason exposed

Jason Lund

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