"Every man leaves a lasting influence... that will affect future generations for centuries to come. But let's face it, not all legacies are the same. Some are productive, others are destructive. Some are illustrious, others are infamous... what kind of a legacy will you leave behind? A spiritual legacy is one that money can't buy and taxes can't take away, it is passing down to the next generation what matters most."
Steven J. Lawson

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Adventure and Wild at Heart

Do you remember being told by your mother to go play outside growing up? I do. Before I quit homeschooling in the fourth grade, these words were heard in our house quite often. Perhaps a solid 75%- 85% of my day would be spent outside, playing with my brothers in whatever creative activity we found ourselves. Our imaginations ran wild as we played cowboys and indians, building forts(even an entire "colony" at one point) or having jousting wars on our bicycles. My mom would lock us out on beautiful days where we had no excuse to be inside. The world was our playground, okay, maybe not the entire world, but at least 40 acres of land... Some of my fondest memories are of the many adventures with my two brothers(often accompanied by my older sister as well) having dirt clobber fights, making mud pies in the rain, or playing football before supper.

Though I was weaker than my two brothers, I always did what they did. They were probably more gun-ho than I was, but I loved tramping through the woods and fields with them. I think my love for adventure came from these special times, but also from things that I read and watched on film. My favorite things to read as a boy were historical fiction and nonfiction, biography, and adventure. All of this incensed in me a desire for adventure, but this desire strangely did not really come alive until my senior year of college.

Before I explore that history however, I want to discuss the book Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge, as well as my ideas on both adventure and what I believe being wild at heart means for boys/men. First of all, let me say that I do not believe there is anything wrong with wanting some excitement or adventure in your life. The only problem comes when you pursue it at the cost of your relationships with family, a job, or even your own life, or the lives of others. More important however, is that adventure-lust may be a sign of discontent, or longing which realistically, only Jesus can satisfy. According to Webster's Dictionary, adventure is "a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome." There have been countless accounts of people who, with the lust of adventure driving them, have caused pain to family and friends, spent thousands of dollars, and even lost their lives in pursuit of glory. This is foolish and a waste of resources and life if done with selfish ambition, that ultimately destroys more than it achieves.

Today, I believe that men are looking for some way to make their mark on the world, and adventure sports seems to be a great way to do that. If you are a hopeless romantic like me, you may desire adventure to experience what the great explorers like Shackleton, or others may have experienced as a way to do something in a spirit of heroism and honor, which seems especially void these days. In some ways, I long for adventure because I want to push myself and test my abilities. Of course, there must always be wisdom in this.
Wild at Heart has been vastly popular, but I feel that it gives an unrealistic and even unhealthy view of manhood and puts too much pressure on men who may be reading the book. Eldredge pulls from his own experiences and tries to impose them on young men. He misapplies scripture
to fit it to his view, which is misleading young men down a path of idealistic dreams.

To be wild at heart I think really only applies to us as men in the sense that we are designed in a way that reflects the attributes of God in a male way just as women reflect His attributes in a female way. God has designed us this way. As Christ is the head of His bride the Church, so we are designed to be the head of our family and of our wives. We are the provider and sustainer of our family, as God is to His children. Mothers provide nurture and care to her children, which
reflects God's care to us. God has designed us in such a special and unique way to be mirrors to reflect our Maker. The way we express things or do things may be more physical, but that is the way we have been wired by God.

As a boy, it was a normal day if my brothers and I came back with torn pants, muddy faces, and a few cuts and bruises. We were interacting with one another as boys will: with physicality. Typically speaking, if a boy gets a chance to wrestle in the rain and get dirty will do so, while a girl will probably stay inside and play with her dolls. Forgive me if I have just given in to a stereotype, but I think that this seems to be the common experience of most children. We were adventurous boys who remain adventurous as men, though maybe in different ways than when we were young...

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debbie bailey said...
December 19, 2010 at 7:35 AM  

Hey now...don't be so quick to make those sexist delineations. Growing up, I was the one climbing trees, catching lizards, and running through the fields after dark pretending to be a pirate, witch, or some other fierce person.

I never played with dolls that much growing up. I didn't consider myself very maternal. God certainly has a sense of humor in giving me five children!