Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge is, as much as a Christian book can be, a cultural phenomenon. It seems everyone has read that book. I know people who loved it, crafted a way of living because of it. And I know people who hated it, disagreed with almost every word between the covers. So, when I saw it on the free books for bloggers list at Thomas Nelson, I snatched it up immediately.

This new edition is “revised and expanded” although I suspect that’s just publisher speak for “Look, something you thought was old is actually new and shiny.” But since I haven’t read the first edition, I can’t prove my hunch.

Wild at Heart is based on the idea that men are really, well, wild at heart, that they yearn to be unshackled from the tedium of nice-guy living, to roam the plains bucking like the broncos God made them to be. I don’t intend even a smidgen of sarcasm there. I feel like that’s exactly what Eldredge is saying, and, to a certain extent, I agree.

This book was written for men and as I’m not a man there are certain judgments I’m not equipped to make. I can’t verify the validity of his sweeping assumptions about men—I can, however, say the assumptions are sweeping and perhaps too categorical to fit every kind of man.

Honestly, I was far less interested in Eldredge’s comments on what makes a man than I was in his thoughts on women—thoughts I was shocked to find especially close to my own heart.

I have NEVER considered myself to be a stereotypical woman. I’ve dismissed many traditional gender assignments and wriggled in agony during my fair share of women’s conferences and events. So, when Eldredge starting talking about saving the princess I wanted to gag. Until I realized I was a princess needing saving.

His three questions that every woman asks had me crying: “Will you pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight for me?”

I loved this paragraph, too:

"If masculinity has come under assault, femininity has been brutalized. Eve is the crown of creation, remember? She embodies the exquisite beauty and the exotic mystery of God in a way that nothing else in all creation even comes close to. And so she is the special target of the evil one; he turns his most vicious malice against her. If he can destroy her or keep her captive, he can ruin the story."

Thing is, I’m not positive this is totally true—I felt that way a lot while reading this book. But I like it.

Whether or not Eve is the prime target, I think Eldredge would benefit from seeing himself in the princess role, too. He envisions men as warriors (which sometimes they’re called to be—and sometimes I’m called to be, too) but I think he misses their role as a part of “the bride of Christ.”

Still, this chapter is packed with good stuff—his description of sex as a spilling of one’s strength is awesome and his argument that women want “a lover and a warrior—not a really nice guy” is too easily proven to even be debated. This chapter also has super insightful info on spiritual warfare.

The next chapter “An Adventure to Live,” is even better. It’s all about embracing risk, living freely and dangerously—which, as you start to see from the buckets of scriptures he incorporates, is totally Biblical. Right now, I’m flipping through the chapter looking for a quote to give you but I’m finding so many I can’t pick one. You need to read this chapter, even if it’s just this chapter.

What Eldredge does so powerfully in this book is to inspire his reader to live a bigger, more cinematic life, to embrace adventure and stop sitting in front of a television. Not to manufacture drama but to see what life is really about. While I don’t agree with everything he says, I do think this lesson is important. For goodness sakes, we are at war. And we’re sitting around tweeting about what we ate for breakfast.

Read the book. Skip the first few chapters if you want—maybe even the first seven—but let the scale of Eldredge’s passion inspire you to live big and to fight.