Book Review: Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

 

‘’Why does God create Adam? What is a man for? If you know what something is designed to do, then you know its purpose in life. A retriever loves water, a lion loves the hunt, a hawk loves to soar. It’s what they’re made for. Desire reveals design, and design reveals destiny’’ – John Eldredge

Often, I notice how men in all spheres of life are seemingly floating away like a lost buoy swayed by high vicious seas, lacking a sense of purpose due to a loss in support or poor foundations. Whatever floats your boat is the term most applicable to modern day men, pursuing those things that appeal most to their own desires – which isn’t wrong, not in the slightest.

What is it that makes your heart race? Tell me… does working a 9-5 truly satisfy your soul?

I love how John Eldredge relates the relevant beasts of the land to their purpose and what appeals to their inner most being; ‘’Desire reveals design, and design reveals destiny.’’ I am a firm believer in this statement, speak to anyone for longer than 10 minutes and you’ll understand what it is that they’re most passionate about, you’ll notice how their pupils dilate, how their engagement in the conversations begins to heighten. It is not wrong to want to pursue that. I certainly would find little joy in working a 9-5 that steals all my joy and happiness.

‘’For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus’’ (Romans 6:10-11).

If we are being continuously transformed and pursuing Christ, our desires will be for his Kingdom. Let’s face it, our hearts are corrupted, we were born into sin, but Christ provided an option, we can either seek to benefit ourselves in and through our desires, or benefit the kingdom, each will bear its own fruit. You cannot choose to benefit God’s Kingdom and continue to pursue unrighteousness. The point I’m trying to make is: we were created with personality and individuality.

‘’You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!’’ (Psalm 139:13-14).

I truly believe that God has fashioned us in the most beautiful and diverse way possible. But how is the mandate of the kingdom applicable to my individuality?

‘’For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell’’ (Philippians 1:21-22).

Paul’s single objective was to pursue a life that brought fruit to God’s Kingdom, regardless of his personality, he made his personal desires that of furthering the Kingdom, and so should we. All else will inevitably correlate when we pursue Christ first.

Men, your purpose is not to float away. Your purpose is to pursue a life that involves every bit of Christ in it as possible. Take courage, stand strong.

Jacques.

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As a woman, it didn’t occur to me at first to read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. I had read Captivating by John and his wife, Stasi, and it had had a profound impact on me. It was only when my dad suggested that I read Wild at Heart in order to understand the men in my life better. Even before I met my man, it gave me some valuable insights into men and from that time on I started practising.

Let me explain. A lot of concepts that work in romantic relationships also work in any male/female relationship. I could try out these new revelations on my dad, brother, guy friends . . . the list was endless. Why not form good habits early?

The core of a man’s heart is undomesticated and that is good.
– John Eldredge, p. 4

One of the biggest things Wild at Heart taught me as a woman was create space for your man. Allow him to be who he is: wild, strong, deeply masculine, capable, wanting to rescue and provide. True masculinity is not something to be afraid of or annoyed by.

Society at large can’t make it up its mind about men. Having spent the last thirty years redefining masculinity into something more sensitive, safe, manageable and, well, feminine, it now berates men for not being men.
– John Eldredge, p. 7

Men were created to reflect aspects of God’s heart in a unique way.  They reflect his strength, his desire to pursue, his eyes of fire (spoken about in Revelation 1), and his rescuing, protective, cherishing heart.

“Where are all the real men?” is the regular fare for talk shows and new books. You asked them to be women, I want to say. The result is a gender confusion never experienced at such a wide level in the history of the world.
-John Eldredge, p. 7

But what do we do as women that squash men, make them shrink back? Those were the things that I was paying attention to as I read. And how could I not do them?

There are three desires I find written so deeply into my heart I know now I can no longer disregard them without losing my soul. They are core to who and what I am and yearn to be. I gaze into boyhood, I search the pages of literature, I listen carefully to many, many men, and I am convinced these desires are universal, a clue into masculinity itself. They may be misplaced, forgotten or misdirected, but in the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.
– John Eldredge, p. 9

I want the men around me to be free to be who they were created to be. The kind of men that make heaven rejoice and the world a better replace. Because just as much as it needs women, the world needs men. True, godly, strong men with lion hearts.
Lil.

Where to buy . . .

 

Sincerely,

Jacques and Lil

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Image: http://www.livewithpurposecoaching.com/blog/review-wild-at-heart/

Book recommendation: Captivating

Do you ever feel that you are “too much” and “not what you should be”?

The non-fiction book that has probably impacted me the most is this book Captivating, written by a Christian married couple, John and Stasi Eldredge. The introduction alone had me in tears.

It began to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a woman?” As someone with identity issues, this text spoke to me in a way that I had never experienced before.

This book, written from the perspective of both husband and wife, is not mainly a book about marriage. It is a book about being a woman – and for me has been anointed. The best way to describe it is that it tore me down and then built me back up, from the very foundations.

Captivating has brought me to tears (eye-swelling, gut-wrenching, soul tears) where wounds so deep—some I didn’t even know existed—got brought into the spotlight. Reading it was very painful at times but I finished the last page a different woman because God used these words to minister to my soul.

I don’t like sounding so dramatic, because people often say about books and movies, “This will change your life!” And I promise I am receiving no money to promote this book. But the fact that I have bought or recommended it for close to 10 people already shows how relevant I find it. If you’ve talked to me about self-esteem or identity issues you’ve probably already heard me mention it.

I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it—something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is.  I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough … But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong … The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.
– Stasi Eldredge, pp. 230-131 (Wild at Heart and Captivating, 2005)

Why does this get to us? Because we have believed some lies in our lives, some at a very young age. And they have poisoned our hearts. Jesus wants to draw the poison out of us, the things that paralyse us, and bring us out into his glorious freedom. Because we were created for wide open spaces, for beauty and intimacy, not for shame, and self-loathing and fear.

Trust me I have lived on the one side, and am learning to live on the other. And I am so thankful to a couple who were obedient to God when he surely said, “I want to bring some freedom to some of my precious daughters through you.”

What is at the core of a woman’s heart? What are her desires? What did we long for as little girls? What do we still long for as women? And, how does a woman begin to be healed from the wounds and tragedies of her life?
– Stasi Eldredge, p. 224 (Wild at Heart and Captivating, 2005)

John and Stasi don’t claim to answer every question, but they have grasped something true and powerful in the heart of a woman that has often been lost, hidden or crushed. And it is something that the world desperately needs.

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From a man’s perspective:
Q: Would you say it’s beneficial at all to read Captivating as a man? If yes, how so?
A: I’d say yes. Captivating reassured me of a lot of things I had been told about women – growing up with two women in the house, I had never fully noticed things that Captivating spoke about. I think it’s beneficial because it helps you understand just how important a man’s role is, and how it is in a woman’s core to be loved and desired.
– Jacques

Where to buy . . .

Sincerely,
Lil and Jacques

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Image: http://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1442893930i/11413._UY500_SS500_.jpg

Thievery schools, boxing with Hitler and writing to strangers: World War II books to read

I thought to broaden my scope in writing I could review and recommend some books, because any writer, accomplished or aspiring, must as a prerequisite be obsessed with reading. The two undoubtedly go hand in hand.

At the moment I am finishing Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I don’t usually read a lot of non-fiction but have challenged myself to branch out lately. After a months long journey through the ‘survival, resilience and redemption’ (front cover) of a Prisoner of War in Japan during World War II, I have a new level of respect for veterans. As well as an ache in my heart for those who walked away from their tormentors in the war, and then went on to spend every night afterwards with them, still at their mercy in their dreams.

After reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak earlier this year (another brilliant read and now one of my favourite novels), I am starting to get a rounder view of the second World War. Depending on what country you’re from, and go to school in, you tend to a get a certain version or ‘side’ to the story, and while The Book Thief made me realise that so many Germans were also just victims, innocents caught in the middle, Unbroken opened my eyes to what was happening behind closed doors to our men while the rest of the world seemed to have their eyes glued on Nazi Germany.

Hailed as an international bestseller–I can see why–my copy’s blurb says:

In 1943, a bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Against all odds, one young lieutenant survived. Louis Zamperini had already transformed himself from child delinquent to prodigious athlete, running in the Berlin Olympics. Now he must embark on one of the Second World War’s most extraordinary odysseys. Zamperini faced thousands of miles of open ocean on a failing raft. Beyond, lay only greater trials in Japan’s prisoner-of-war camps.

Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini’s fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would depend on the strength of his will . . .

(Fourth Estate Paperback edition published 2014)

This book is gripping and you can’t believe the odds Zamperini comes up against, although as you read you’re hoping that it’s not a true story once you get attached to Louis and see what he has to endure.

The Book Thief is all about an obsession with words, and how guns didn’t start a war, words did. Tanks and soldiers didn’t kill the main character Liesel’s father, words did. It shows how Germans were forced to support the Nazis if they wanted to survive. They were punished for even showing sympathy to Jews.

The descriptions are like I’ve never heard, but not out of place in an effort to be obscure and the format of the book, whilst still in chapters, is creative and humorous, despite the heavy topic.

My favourite books combine heartbreaking, serious subjects with the very lightheartedness and wry humour that is necessary in order to survive them. Along those lines, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows) is another World War II book (an epistolary novel) that combines these elements beautifully, but I would probably only recommend that one to people who like quirky humour.

If you’re looking for a good read on World War II, check out one of the above. Happy reading!

Sincerely,
Lil

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Image 1: http://www.flickeringmyth.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/unbroken_australian_poster.jpg, sourced 12 June 2016.
Image 2: https://trailers.apple.com/trailers/fox/thebookthief/, sourced 12 June 2016.
Image 3: http://assets.allenandunwin.com.s3.amazonaws.com/images/original/9781741758955.jpg, sourced 12 June 2016.