185: John Eldredge: Guarding The Heart: Why Humans Prefer Denial, Practicing Self-Kindness, Asking God’s Opinion, Being Protective Instead Of Defensive, And Knowing That Your Story Matters
The human heart is the chamber of humanity where dreams, disappointments, hope, and other emotions and desires are found. The Wild at Heart author himself, John Eldredge, sits with Thane Marcus Ringler and talks about the impact of global trauma on humanity and why the human heart prefers denial and falls short in self-kindness. John is a best-selling author, a counselor and a teacher. In this fascinating conversation, they talk about the importance of where we look for encouragement, the trauma that was experienced in 2020, how we often prefer denial as humans, what practicing self-kindness looks like, John’s journey from counseling to writing and speaking, the importance of guarding the heart, and so much more. Enjoy this really deep and impactful interview with John.
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John Eldredge: Guarding The Heart: Why Humans Prefer Denial, Practicing Self-Kindness, Asking God’s Opinion, Being Protective Instead Of Defensive, And Knowing That Your Story Matters
This is a show all about the process of becoming, learning how to live a good life and living with intention in the tension. Life has a lot of tensions and the best way we believe to live in the midst of those is by infusing intentionality and a reason why into all that we do. On this show, we get to talk to fellow Up and Comers on that journey who are living on purpose and on a mission. We get to share their stories. It is such a joy to do that through long-form interviews, fellowship episodes and sometimes through solo combos that I share some thoughts I’m stewing on.
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I’m so grateful that you’re tuning in. I’m excited about this interview. The man that is featured in this episode needs little introduction. John Eldredge is the man of the hour. He is a best-selling author, a counselor and a teacher. He is also President of Wild at Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts and God’s love and learn to live in God’s kingdom. John and his wife, Stasi, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado. This was a fascinating conversation. It’s helpful for me. I gained so much wisdom and insight from talking and hearing from his perspective. Even in the research I did, hearing more of his content was healing for my own soul.
In this interview, we talk about the importance of where we look for encouragement, trauma that was experienced in 2020, how we often preferred denial as humans and what practicing self-kindness looks like. John’s journey from counseling to writing and speaking, the importance of guarding the heart, some differences between men and women and so much more. He’s a wealth of knowledge. He’s lived an impactful life. If you haven’t read Wild at Heart, that’s a great place to start. That’s a classic. His new app that’s called Pause that they created for free, I would highly recommend checking that out. It’s something that I’ve incorporated this last season in my own life and believe in it. It’s centering in on Jesus and it’s a meditation app to help you do that throughout your day. It’s helpful, practical and available for free. I hope you enjoy this deep and impactful interview with John Eldredge.
In this world, we are often told about the importance and benefits of being self-aware but rarely are we ever told what that means. How do we become self-aware? What are the tools we can use to help us? What does the process look like? Is it even attainable? If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard self-awareness thrown around a lot without the idea ever being clarified or explained. Over the past seven years, I’ve been on a journey of discovering answers to these very questions. I spent much of 2020 putting these tools and processes in place for others to learn alongside me. Through the eight-week course on Thane Marcus Academy, you will learn and practice what it means to grow in self-awareness truly. To help you take the first step, I’m offering you a special discount of 20% off by using the code Upandcomer at checkout. Head over to Courses.ThaneMarcus.com to begin your journey of growing self-awareness.
John Eldredge, welcome to the show.The heart is where the action is. Click To Tweet
Thanks, Thane. It’s good to be with you.
It’s good to be with you again. I wanted to start here. What question are you asking yourself the most?
That’s going to reveal a lot about the progression of my own faith journey over the years coming into a deeper and deeper need for the love, the counsel and the direction of God. Not everybody’s asking the same questions and people have different seasons in their life but the question I’m asking the most is, “God, what are you doing with me, in me, with us? Where are we going? What are you saying?”
What a great question. I want to ask more of that for myself. We’re going to dive a lot into many aspects of your story in the time that we have together. I’m sure there are a lot of people that are familiar and there are a plethora of ways to find out about that. I’m excited about this conversation. The follow-up question I have for you on that is as you stand in life, do you find yourself being encouraged or discouraged as a whole?
It depends on where I’m looking. If I look at the news, if I look at the world and all its heartache and brokenness, it’s rough out there. One of my go-tos during the pandemic has been nature shows because if I can’t get out in beauty, if I can’t bike, hike or travel, I loved watching nature. I was watching the latest David Attenborough, Our Planet, and the extraordinary beauty of the world was reminding me of the goodness of God, his generosity, and his heart for people. When I look there, when I look at the heart of God, I’m encouraged. Honestly, day-to-day, it depends on what I’m focused on.
Speaking of the pandemic, seeing as it’s still affecting us all in many ways, I’m curious to hear what your experience has been like personally of what you felt through the year of facing a global pandemic, something that we have never encountered. How has that affected you, your work, your family and your life?
I had a good conversation with a friend of mine the other day about this who is a psychologist. I trained under him. I got my graduate work under him. His name is Dan Allender. He specializes in trauma. I was reaching out to Dan because we’ve been using the word trauma to describe our own experience and what people are going through but I didn’t want to be overstating it. Sometimes if you overstate things, you miss the opportunity to speak into the conversation. I felt very strongly that what the pandemic has been like and here’s why. It’s because I’ve seen the effects on me.
What’s my journey been like through the pandemic? I think at first it was, “We can do this. Let’s rally.” This is the first round of quarantines. “I’m going to clean my garage. I’m going to make sure I exercise. I want to eat well,” like everybody else. By about the eighth week of that, you’re binge-watching Netflix. I’m eating way too much dark chocolate and the tendency to go to a glass of wine or a beer. I was like, “Wait a second.”
As I look back on 2020, I can see that none of us have been through global trauma before like this. None of us have navigated this. To be kept in a state of constant uncertainty, to have your normal taken away and a lot of the things taken away that help you thrive like traveling, seeing family or going to church for many people, going out for dinner, I’ve been hammered by it. I can feel the effects. This is why I began to use the word trauma was that the sense of the loss of time, the fogginess, the mental haze, the ability to remember things, focus on things with clarity, turning to comforters and self-soothing behaviors. Those are all the indications that someone’s been through trauma. I’ve got it. Everyone I know has it.
I will be honest and say, I think I’ve done well with my mental health because I made an intentional effort. Things like nature shows and getting out and walking the dog. We were talking about the power of the news to make someone lose hope. Getting off the news. Five minutes a day at the most, get in, get the basics and get out. I’ve been intentional about not letting this thing steamroll me and even then I feel it. I’m exhausted, the weariness by about 2:00 in the afternoon. That’s it. That’s all I got. I want to tell the world, “I’m done now.”
I love that you’re saying this because we’re all feeling that. For some reason, it is hard for all of us to acknowledge or recognize that. Making an intentional effort is such a crucial part of that. I’m curious when we hear this, in your mind, what prevents most of us from actually taking action on that? Meaning we can hear, “I need to be more intentional to recognize and adjust my life to deal with the season of grief or loss that we’re in but putting the actions in place.” There’s a difference between hearing it and then acting on it. What helps people to take action or recognize or acknowledge that we’re in a place of trauma?
Human nature, being what it is, it’s not until you’re in some serious pain. We prefer denial. “I’m doing okay. Maybe I gained a few pounds. I don’t go to the gym anymore. I’m fine. I want 2021 to be a better year.” It’s a massive collective denial. You usually don’t get out of denial until you want it and your longing for change is greater than your desire not to be disturbed than your denial. I think that kindness, that most people do not know how to practice self-kindness. It is kindness towards ourselves that say, “I’m living in a rough period of human history. I need to do a couple of things that helped me take care of my soul, of my body to weather the storm. I want to be well coming out of this.” I think coming out of denial, choosing kindness and a strong desire to say, “When this thing is over, I don’t want to be hammered. I don’t want to be one of the statistics.”Throw yourself into work. Attack life, and hopefully, you'll win. Click To Tweet
Speaking of practicing self-kindness, what does that tangibly look like? I know that’s something that I am not great at. I can use a lot of work in that realm. I think most of us as humans are pretty poor at that, it seems like. What does a practice of self-kindness look like?
This will help folks. Step outside your own story for a minute and act as though you were giving a good friend the best counsel you could. In other words, if you were giving advice to you standing outside your life, what do you need to let go of and what do you need to start doing? I don’t mean big plans. Anybody who loves their friend doesn’t set up a big plan, “You need to start training for a marathon.” What we normally try and do is say, “I think you’re spending a little bit too much time on social media. I would recommend that you cut that way back.” That would be an example of kindness of what you should stop. “Do you know what you need to do? You used to ride your bike more. You need to get back on your bike. You used to play music or listen to music. I remember you used to listen to a lot of music. You’re not doing that anymore. You need to get that back.”
Step outside your life and act as if you were giving advice to someone you care about. Say, “What do you need to be in a better place in a month?” The problem with 2021 is where it’s 2020, with a new date on it. Nothing’s changed. We are in the 13th, 14th month of 2020 and everybody thought, “New year. Here we go,” but still a pandemic, quarantine, restrictions, all the social tensions and all the news of the world. We’re all navigating this after almost a year of trauma. Be kind, step out of your life and say, “If I were advising me, what I do need to stop doing that’s draining me? What do I need to start doing that’s going to bring me some life?”
I love how simple that is or actionable. It doesn’t need to be this ten-step method. Sit down with yourself and say, “What do I need to let go of? What do I need to start doing,” and make it a single small step? I feel like that is such a helpful practice that we can all instill. Going back to preferring denial, there comes a time where the pain is greater than the resistance to change. What was the earliest or the beginning of that process for you? What was the start of that journey for you when the pain was so great that you no longer could prefer denial?
As a young dad and this was many years ago. I was in my early 30s and I began to see that my lifestyle, my way of handling life was doing damage to the people I love. The thing is, I could suck it up for myself. I grew up in an alcoholic home and I was a survivor. My way of approaching life was full throttle. If you blast and try and conquer everything you can, then you’re going to be okay. Throw yourself into work. Throw yourself in the school. Throw yourself into your sports. Attack life and hopefully you’ll win. The problem was that lifestyle was doing enormous harm to myself but I didn’t care because I was in that fight or flight mentality. When I began to see it damage the people I love, I had little boys at the time and I could see it, I’m like, “I need to take a look under the hood. I need to go see a counselor.”
I knew that I had some father issues. I knew I had anger issues. There was a lot of fear driving me. I never stopped to look at it because in my twenties, I could laugh. I was single and you can jam but when your life starts mattering to other people, that’s the big shift. That’s where you start going or you lose the girl you were dating or the guy you were engaged to, your friendships blow up, your health starts to hurt and you go into a depression. Something starts showing you that your way of doing life is not healthy.
To give people some context, we got to have a meeting in person this past year. I approached the meeting much more of being interested in what God had for the conversation. I left it feeling much more like I’d been through a counseling session. Part of that ties into your work and your heart. I think I share a lot of your story in that early lifestyle or approach of attacking life and going full throttle in all things. It’s not sustainable and not helpful for those around you. That was one of the big impacts of that conversation with you. What I’m leading to with that is, as you go through this and you say, “I do need some counseling for myself.” What was unlocked in those early counseling sessions? How did that lead or guide you into the realm of becoming a counselor yourself? I’m curious how those tie together.
The first epiphany was that my story matters. I’d never sat down with someone and simply told them my story of growing up in an alcoholic home or having a mother that disappeared when I was young into her career. I was a latchkey kid. I’d come home and be nobody there. To sit down and tell a caring person my story and begin to see, I have been shaped by my story. These are such simple epiphanies but when they take place in your life, it’s huge. You have a story. Your story matters. Your story has shaped you far more than you know and then the realization of the centrality of the heart. The heart is where the action is. I began to read a lot on the life of the heart. I began to seek the healing of the life of my own heart.
I went to graduate school in counseling but I didn’t at first intend on being a therapist. I wanted the knowledge that they had, the wisdom, the understanding of human beings, how we are wired, how we heal and why we do the things we do. I did become a therapist after that but then I became an author, and I realized I could touch a lot more people’s lives as an author. It’s a matter of gifting and calling it. I have many friends who are still lifelong therapists. They’re fantastic people. I did not stay in the field of private clinical practice. Instead I went into what I do now, which is I write and I speak, and we do conferences around the heart of men, how men are wired, how we blow up and how we heal. The heart of women, how women are wired, how they blow up and how they heal.
Speaking of writing, who is George MacDonald and what role has he played in your life?
George MacDonald lived in the 1800s. He was Scottish scholar, poet, writer, pastor and novelist. He came into my life right at the time that I was trying to learn more of how does the heart of God work, what is his heart, and how does the life of the heart impact a life of faith and a relationship with God? MacDonald is phenomenal on it. He knew the heart of God. There are a lot of religious writers out there that don’t know the heart of God. Frankly, they don’t even know God.
They’re writing about the Polynesia Islands but they’d never been there. They’re writing about Antarctica but they’d never been there. People are writing travel logs to places they’ve never personally visited but not MacDonald. He was a beautiful guy and he had a poet’s heart. CS Lewis called him his mentor. He did not know him personally. They lived in different centuries but when Lewis stumbled upon the readings of MacDonald, he said something to this effect, “I know of no other writer that remains as consistently close to the heart of God as McDonald does.”When your life starts mattering to other people, that's the big shift. Click To Tweet
If someone wants to start and get a sense of MacDonald, where do you send them? What works of his would you recommend starting with?
He wrote a lot. You can get it online because it’s going to be in used books mostly. There’s not a ton of his works that are still published. It depends on what you like to read. He was a novelist and he also wrote fantasy. I were to start, brand new, start with George MacDonald, he has a beautiful little book called Diary of an Old Soul. It’s actually broken up into 365 readings. He literally starts with January 1 but the whole thing is the life of the heart from his own experience. Some readings he’s talking about the power of forgetfulness. He says, “I don’t even remember what I used to believe.” Other readings he’s writing about deep, intimate encounters with the heart of God. It’s a little tiny paperback. It’s still in print. I believe it’s called Diary of an Old Soul. That would be a great place to start.
If we go back to this time in your life where you’ve gotten this graduate degree in counseling or psychology, you’re on this path, you start experiencing yourself and you start practicing privately. How do you go about pivoting or shifting your vision for what you want to do from this realm of working with individuals as a counselor to trying to reach as many people as possible through written works and speaking and other events? What was that transition like and how did you make those decisions along the way?
There are two ways to live life, Thane. You can try and figure things out or you can ask God his opinion. Most of us, even people of faith, try and figure things out. I’ll tell you a wild story. I’m sitting in a marriage counseling session. I’m counseling a couple. A number of huge events have taken place in my life. I’ve written a book with my mentor and best friend, Brent Curtis and then he was killed. I lost him. I’m literally sitting in his office counseling. He had built a counseling center. I was one of the therapists there but then they were hoping that I would take over the leadership of it. I was sitting in a session doing marriage counseling and God speaks to me. He says, “John, you’re pretty good at this work but I want you to speak to a lot more people than this.” That was all he said. I finished the counseling session, the couple left, I closed my office door and I’m like, “What was that? You can’t do that to me. Say more.” I began to pray. I began to seek and ask. It took several days to get some clarity.
What I sensed was your calling is not in this office. This is so important because you can’t try and create your dream life. It will break your heart. You’ve got to be smarter than that. The world is a difficult place to navigate. Dreams are essential and important but this isn’t the Wizard of Oz here. Dreams don’t come true by clicking your heels. They don’t come true simply because you believe in God. You live in a broken world that’s full of violence and heartache and you have got to have the counsel of God to navigate this labyrinth. I began to pray and I said, “I hear you. My calling is not to take over Brent’s practice. What do you want me to do?” He said, “I want you to write more. I want you to write the things that are on your heart.”
You seek confirmation for these things. You don’t launch off and go, “I’m quitting my job and now I’m a writer.” You’re going to starve. You’re not going to pay the rent. I began to pray for confirmation of that. In the same week that this story happened, my phone rings and it’s my publisher. Brent and I had written one book together called The Sacred Romance and it had done okay. It wasn’t like a New York Times bestseller. The publisher called and they said, “John, people are enjoying your writing. Would you like to write some more because we’d like to publish you?” I thought, “There you go.” That’s the confirmation right there.
I began to trim back my counseling practice to make room for writing. I began to get a couple of books out there. The point of the story being is you can figure life out or you can ask God, not once but over and over again. Staying with it to hear what God has to say and I’ll guarantee you, it’s going to go a whole lot better if you have the counsel of God, whether it’s a relationship you’re pursuing, it’s a career change you want to make, or going back to school, anything like that.
I love how you brought out the nuance in that too, in the sense that asking God’s opinion is a continual practice and it usually requires waiting to see confirmation. It can’t be overstated enough because so often we start thinking. It’s like rubbing the genie in the bottle. That’s not how it works or not how it’s intended anyways. It’s meant to build trust, faith and openhandedness which I love that you demonstrate that in that. I know I default to figuring things out so often, so it’s a good reminder for me.
Here we are over many years since The Sacred Romance came out. After looking, I think you and your wife have both together authored twenty books. It’s been prolific in that vein. I’m curious through that time of writing and in this new calling in ministry and work of yours over those years, what has stayed the same and what has changed or shifted in the way you think about things or the way you write? What do you look back on and think that was a little crazy or maybe I don’t agree with? How has things shifted for you in this work?
I had an interesting test case of that this year in 2020 because we were creating a new film series for men around Wild at Heart, how men are wounded and heal. We were creating a new film series for women as well around captivating. Our publisher asked Stasi and I, “Go back to those books and let’s do a revised version. What would you change now? What would you update?” I was braced. I’m like, “I haven’t read Wild at Heart personally in a decade.” I thought, “This is going to be embarrassing.” As I read back through it, the astounding thing is I changed very little. It’s timeless. There were movie references and cultural references that needed to be updated.
When you get into the deep things of the human heart, the fascinating thing is read the Psalms. The Psalms in the Old Testament are a window. It’s like reading somebody’s journal. You’ll get to read David’s journal and it’s pretty honest stuff. You read the rhythms, the life, the ups and downs, and the journey of the human heart. People have always been saying that the human heart has not changed over the centuries. Technology’s changed. Government’s changed but humanity is very much the same, which is a good thing for an arrogant age like ours. In this moment in time, we think we are so enlightened, so much more educated and farther down the road of moral development than our forebears.
You go back and read the Psalms and you go, “That’s thousands of years ago and here is a glimpse into some human hearts.” There’s a collection of authors that wrote the Psalms. You go, “That’s my inner life. That exact thing.” Everything from dreams, disappointments, jealousy, envy, rage and hope, it’s all right there. If you were working in the realm of geopolitics, you’d have to update your books quite a bit in a world that shifts as much as ours does but in the realm of the soul and of the eternal truths like beauty, love and hope, there are things that do not change.Technologies change, governments change, but humanity is very much the same. Click To Tweet
It’s so core and fundamental. That’s beautiful and the focus of the heart, as you’ve been talking about this whole time and you’ve been focused on for years. I’ve listened a little bit to your podcasts that you produce and I know that you guys have been refocusing on the heart where you started and where the work initially began. As you’ve refocused or re-emphasized that through some of your thought process in your ministry, in your work, is there a deeper layer that you find yourself reaching to this time around or what has surfaced with that refocus?
I think because of 2020, we all lost heart with the successive ongoing series of disappointments. This was an interesting thing. Personally, I found it difficult to move into 2021. It was right at the end of the holidays. Everybody’s talking about, “New year, fresh start. Here we go. What are your dreams for the new year?” I work with a creative group of people. They set goals and they use different gratitude journals and different things to help them map their life out. I couldn’t go there, Thane. My heart was not coming into 2021.
What I realized I had to do was I hadn’t grieved some significant losses in 2020. 2020 for every human being was a series of disappointments, some of them small but continual. You can’t go to the gym, we didn’t have school, I didn’t have a graduation, on and on like that. We couldn’t go to church. I couldn’t see my friends in certain settings, to very significant things. People lost their folks. They lost their jobs or they lost 30% of their savings. It was a series of grief and disappointment.
I am a therapist and I do look at the world like that. I’m listening to people talk shows and Starbucks conversations. At the end of 2020, everyone was saying, “I can’t wait for this year to be over.” I thought to myself, “You are in for a real big shock. You think things are going to change simply with the flip of a calendar? We’re still in these, folks.” Many of my friends around the world are in serious lockdown situation. My heart wouldn’t come with me into dreaming about the New Year until I grieved 2020 in very personal ways. When you say come back to the heart, we did that because I think people are living with one quarter of their heart. If you ask people, “What are you dreaming about these days?” You’re not going to get beautiful answers. If you ask people, “What are you stoked about this year?” You’re going to get blank stares.
Our hearts are pretty beat up and that’s why we circled back around to some of the core things of the heart of men, the heart of women, what we’re wired for and how central the life of the heart is. This is an old Hebrew proverb that says, “Above all else, guard your heart because it is the wellspring of life within you.” The heart is central to everything you want in life, to joy, adventure, friendship, love, your career, creativity and happiness. Your heart is absolutely central. You’ve got to start living with that.
I think that brings up an interesting tension of guarding your heart versus also having an open hand to all that God has or whatever he has for you with that, and also being vulnerable or authentic with your relationships with the people you live with. What does it mean to guard the heart? How do we do that in a healthy or helpful way?
Pay attention to what comes out in your unedited moments. I would wake up certain mornings in 2020 and the first thing out of my mouth was not something I could repeat on this podcast. I’m like, ” Johnny, time out there, pal. What is going on?” How do you guard your heart? Here’s one of the key things. Your heart is where you hold your deepest beliefs, not your brain. The brain is a beautiful instrument. The mind is extraordinary but the mind is given to us to guard our heart. Your heart is where the deepest beliefs are held. When you guard your heart, part of it is you’re careful what you let in, for example, by way of the news. You’ve got to be careful how much global sadness you let into your heart every day. You’ve got to be careful with that. You’ve got to be careful to pay attention to what your heart is believing these days.
Ask your heart a couple of questions, “Are you hopeful?” If your heart says, “Not really,” then you ask, “Why not?” A loss of hope is going on at the level of the heart. That’s how you guard your heart. It’s not like a defensive thing. We’re talking about a protective thing. You mentioned vulnerability with people. Most people are clueless as to how their own heart is doing. You want to be careful how vulnerable you are with yours and you know right away. When you’re with somebody, you’re catching up, you’re having coffee, you’re like, “How are you doing?” “I’m great.” This person is 2 inches deep in the rain puddle. I’m not sharing the deepest things of my life with them. You know. You know who the safe people are and you know who aren’t. Don’t be dumb.
I love the distinction you made. They are not defensive but protective. There’s a nuance or a shift in that’s small but big at the same time. I think that’s a helpful distinction to bring up and some great questions again for sitting with. Paying attention to what comes out in those unedited moments is something I want to carry forward with me because that is so instructive but it takes a presence to do that. I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about one of your immense strengths, which is this idea the heart of men, how we’re created, how we’re wounded, how we heal and even the heart of women. If you could summarize that succinctly from your work and all the time you spend in this, how would you summarize the heart of man, how we’ve been created, how we’ve been wounded, how we heal and maybe even similarly with women?
They’re different. I have my son, daughter, and their toddlers living with us. They have a four-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy. This stuff is deep in human nature. You watch little boys and little girls and you will learn so much. I would say this to try and summarize it. Men need to feel powerful. They need to feel like they can handle their world. They need to feel like they are making a difference. The fear of failure is a man’s greatest fear. Women don’t like failing either. Nobody does, but for women it’s different. Women are relationally brilliant, relationally dialed in that the fear of relational betrayal is a woman’s worst fear. That’s why women will survive career setbacks that completely destroy men and men can survive the loss of a friendship that might send a woman reeling into a depression. We’re very different.
We can tie this to the pandemic because I think this will be helpful. On a woman’s heart, her relational world needs to be well for her to thrive in the other areas, in her career, her adventures and the other thing she’s doing. COVID, the pandemic, politics, masks and all the tensions around that, made relationships difficult. Does this person want to hug or they’re not hugging? Can I take my mask off when I’m with them or do I need to keep it off and all that? It’s bizarre. It’s freaky. We’ve never had to navigate any of this. Zoom is no replacement for face-to-face.
2020 was difficult on a woman’s heart relationally among other things. She’s a mom. She’s got her kids home. She wasn’t trained to be an educator and now she’s trying to educate her kids and all that. 2020 was different for men. For men, we couldn’t fix it. For a man to not be able to fix it, it’s devastating because it means you’re weak, you’re incompetent and you don’t have what it takes. Men are still struggling because we were slammed with a whole bunch of bizarre new realities, very little of it we could fix. Men have these deep desires. To add a few more things for health, men need adventure. It’s like a spiritual longing in men. You’ve got to get out. You’ve got to adventure. For some guys it’s sports, other guys, it’s travel and some guys, it’s starting their own company or a podcast. You’ve got to have adventure in your life and the quarantines made that pretty rough for most guys to find adventure. Men need a mission to their life.The mind is extraordinary, and it is given to us to guard our hearts. Click To Tweet
This is a fascinating piece of data. We have two programs online that are absolutely free. We have our entire Wild at Heart Retreat for men online for free and we have our entire Captivating Retreat for women. This is a four-day retreat online for free. It’s for people to do like groups together or take a few folks through it. Some people are putting on events in states where they can do that. We have had 40 times the number of men’s events go on than women’s when we gave it away free to the world. The thing is that men need a mission. He needs a battle. He needs something that he’s fighting for and they thrive on that. Men need adventure. They need a mission. They need people to love, particularly a woman in their life where they feel deeply appreciated. To have the woman in your life say, “You are amazing.” That’s cocaine for a man.
A woman loves adventure too but rarely alone. Women need adventure but it tends to be with others, despite Reese Witherspoon going off and hiking by herself. Women want to bring beauty to the world. Women make the world a more beautiful place. When they can’t do that, it’s frustrating. That’s also why 2020 was hard. They want their world and relationships to flourish. They want to bring a beauty. You see it in their desire to be beautiful themselves. When they’re going out, they want to look nice. They take care of their hair. “I forgot to shave. I forget that stuff. I literally won’t even look in the mirror. I’ll put on stuff and go out the door.”
I’m like, “You didn’t even shave,” but not a woman for the most part because they want the world to be beautiful. They want to bring beauty to the world. They want to play an irreplaceable role. They don’t want to feel optional. That’s a little bit on how men and women are wired. If folks wanted more, they should maybe read Wild at Heart for men or read Captivating for women. There are some beautiful new film series we’re about to put on our website that will take folks deeper into some of the things we’re talking about.
Thank you so much for that synopsis there. Even that is so helpful. For me, early on in marriage, I think it’s been sweet to experience the reality of these beautiful differences like you’re saying. By having better language or understanding around them, we can better operate within each other’s contexts. That’s important and helpful. I can’t thank you enough for that work. Another selfish question before we end is with your sons all being married, I’m curious to hear what early marriage advice you’ve given to your sons in their own journey into partnership.
You are not her therapist, you are not her best friend, and you are not her father. What happens is men like to fix things. They get into a relationship and we discover one another’s brokenness. What will you do? Men feel this desire, which is beautiful, and this pressure to somehow fix it all. You can’t be her best friend. She needs girlfriends. Please make sure she has room in her life for her friends. You can’t be her counselor. If she needs some soul work, make sure she can get it. Bless it, provide for it, cheer it on, but don’t try and be her universe, which is typically what happens in brand-new marriages. We try and be everything for each other.
Two more questions and we’ll be done. If you could study one other person for an entire year, who would it be and why?
I wish I could study Eve because I need more understanding of the heart of my wife.
That is an incredible level of humility coming from you, especially in studying this for so long. I love that answer. The final question that we ask every guest that comes on the show is if you could send a morning text reminder to every Up and Comer out there, what would you say and why? This is a short message they would get daily from you.
I would send them Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart because it is the wellspring of life within you.”
John, thank you so much for your time and for the life you live. It’s an inspiration and not only that, but a helpful resource. I can’t thank you enough.
It’s great to be with you, Thane.
This has been a lot of fun. For people, where’s the best place to go to check out those resources or connect further?
Our website is WildAtHeart.org.
Definitely check out those offerings. I know you’ll be blessed by them for those reading. Until next time, John. Thank you so much again for coming on. For all of you reading, we hope you have an up and coming week because we are out.
Following up with one last thing to note. If you would like to get a curated list of all the content I’m learning from, whether that be books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, quotes I’m pondering or even some sermons I’m enjoying, In-Thane is a monthly newsletter that brings vetted content that I know you’ll enjoy. Go to ThaneMarcus.com/inthane to sign up and you’ll be sure to receive the very next one. Each edition of In-Thane is released on the first Sunday of the month. This is a once a month newsletter that I hope you enjoy and benefit from as much as I have. Here’s to learning and growing one day at a time.
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- Wild at Heart
- Wild at Heart
- Diary of an Old Soul
- The Sacred Romance
- Wild at Heart Retreat
- Captivating Retreat
About John Eldredge
John Eldredge is a bestselling author, a counselor, and a teacher.
He is also president of Wild at Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God’s love, and learn to live in God’s kingdom. John and his wife, Stasi, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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