“Wild at Heart” has had a significant impact since it was published in 2001. The book is a strong and passionate call to men, to find their true hearts, to be all that God designed them to be as men.
Eldredge is a fresh thinker and a talented writer. The book is filled with interesting anecdotes and quotes, from literature, from movies and from his own life. The book is never boring or tedious. It is controversial at points, and at times Eldredge is given to overstatement and to questionable views on certain biblical passages.
He argues that there are three desires deep in the heart of every man, that every man longs for a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live. I do not believe that these three desires constitute the essence of masculinity. But I do believe that there is much truth here, that these desires are deep in the heart of men. However, these three desires can take many different expressions. There is not one stereotypical image of a “real man.”
Eldredge believes that men subconsciously wrestle with the question: “Do I have what it takes to be a real man?” Furthermore, the answer to this question can only come from other men, especially our father. Masculinity cannot be bestowed by women. Unfortunately, so many fathers do not transmit a sense of healthy masculinity to their sons, either because they are absent or passive or preoccupied with career, or because they are emotionally, verbally or physically abusive.
Eldredge argues that every man has been wounded by his father. And what do men do with this woundedness? Where do they go to validate themselves as real men? So many men pour themselves into their work, thinking that career and financial success will validate them as men. Other men look for validation from a woman, but again, femininity cannot bestow masculinity. The only answer is in our Heavenly Father. He alone can validate us as men and heal our woundedness. Our real strength as men flows only from our relationship with God.
This section on woundedness is a major part of the book. I suspect Eldredge generalizes too much about the woundedness men feel. However, there is a lot of woundedness out there and if men are brave enough to honestly face these wounds, God can use this book to bring incredible healing. It has happened in the hearts of so many men.
There are two chapters on the spiritual battle and this may be the strongest part of the book. He is insightful, he is practical, he is vulnerable. The section is superb.