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Wild Awakening Part 2 with Greg Matthews
Welcome to part two of Wild Awakening with Greg J. Matthews. In the last episode, we learned about the bear attack and we learned about Greg’s recovering and getting home to his family in Texas. All of a sudden everybody was asking, “Greg, you’ve got to tell the story.” As Greg said in the last part of the last episode, the bear attack isn’t the story. Greg brings us up to a speed of what the real story is.
Thank you, Bruce, for having me back on. I am sorry to leave your audience. When I arrived back home, it was obviously a very surreal time for me because I was still trying to process the whole attack and surviving that. Literally, we had meals come to our house for about 40 days from our neighbors. Everyone wanted to hear the story. Being a firefighter, we had the brotherhood. I could talk to firefighters about things that I’d been through and things that I’ve seen and that helped. I didn’t have an outlet except sharing the trauma of what I went through. Each time I looked in their eyes, I was searching for something that said that they understood what I had gone through. It’s not their fault. Nobody else has been attacked by a grizzly. It was very difficult to be able to have any type of therapy and being able to share that with them and get any type of response back that it made me feel better. I decided to write because not only was the grizzly attack and the trauma of all that, but I can’t tell the story without talking about God showing up.
I can’t talk about God showing up and all that he did without talking about some of the things. When you read the book, you’ll find out that I’m very transparent in the book. It was time to get honest, not only with myself but with everybody around me, about some of the woundings that I had suffered as a kid that had plagued me like cancer for my whole adult life. A lot of people ask on the book, they understand the grizzly attack, but what they don’t understand is how does a raging grizzly attacking me heal me? What I can tell is that when I was eight years old, I was out there on the sidewalk with my brothers. We were playing some wiffle ball and I have two other brothers. They were younger than me. My dad came out carrying some boxes. I think I told you my dad was a Marine, who worked for the California Highway Patrol and then worked for NCIS.
Two full careers in law enforcement. Very much an alpha male, very much somebody I just idolized. He was my hero. He was my anchor. When we saw him carrying those boxes, it’s like we knew that we needed to help him because we love that wink. We love that smile. We love that approval from him. We live for that. We rushed in the house and here are all these boxes in. My parents ran. We’re running out and loading up his car and not understanding what we are carrying. It came to a point where we finished loading the boxes and we were so excited. Waiting on the sidewalk as my dad carried out the final box. He opened the door and set it in there and walked around the car.
His head was down and I looked at him because I was expecting to see a smile or a thank you, “Good job, guys.” His head hung and he walked over to the car door and opened it and I said, “Dad.” He looked up and I’ll never forget it because my world disintegrated. The whole foundation of who I was completely vaporized when he said, “Boys, your mother and I, we still love you very much, but I’m not going to be living here anymore.” My brother Shane started crying and was saying, “Dad, please don’t leave.” I wanted to scream it and I couldn’t say, I couldn’t fathom, I couldn’t believe it. The only thing I could think of was that I had done something so terribly wrong that it was unforgivable and that my dad was leaving the house because of me.
This is an eight-year-old boy trying to process this. My brother was crying. I was in shock looking at my dad. He climbs in the car, starts it up, drives away and I watch and he doesn’t look back. My whole world came crashing down. As an eight-year-old boy, the only way that I could process it was that I had done something terrible, something unforgivable, that my dad didn’t love me enough to stick around and that I was unlovable. That I was unworthy of anything. I can remember thinking that if dads can leave then anybody can leave and I will never, ever trust anybody like that again. I told myself that the only thing that I could do was to try and prove myself worthy of love and recognition. For the rest of my life, I would pursue that trying to prove to my dad. The whole thing I was thinking as he was driving away, “Dad, I’ll be good. I promise.”A near-fatal attack by an enraged grizzly leads to an unexpected encounter with God for alpha male Greg Matthews in this gripping and engaging story of survival and faith. Click To Tweet
As my world was crashing down, I was writing these lies on my heart that says, “There’s nothing good in you, that you have to go out and you have to make your mark. You have to prove to the world and you have to prove to your dad that there is value in you. That you are something and someone that can be loved.” As you can imagine, as an eight-year-old boy, I never told anybody what I believed from that point on. Whether it was baseball or anything that I did, including the laundry list of careers that I pursued and the fire service and fugitive recovery, homeland security, emergency management and helicopter rescue, the reason I did those things. Although I did help a lot of people.
I pursued those things from a very broken area in my life. That was an area of being unworthy. I’m sure for you guys and gals reading this that this is striking a coordinate. It’s probably hard to read because I know that there are a lot of father wounds out there for both men and women. I know that this is part of the reason that this grizzly attack happened to me. Can you imagine and maybe you can because you have your own woundedness that you’ve carried in secrets? One, to carry anything in secret is terrible. The thing is that you have to remember that fire is all-consuming. It’s never satisfied. As long as you continue to throw whatever wood, it will burn it. It’s all-consuming.
That’s the same way when you’re pursuing material things, when you’re pursuing achievements, when you’re pursuing success. I kept reaching that point where people are like, “That’s unbelievable that you accomplished that. It would pass.” I’d be like, “I need to be recognized. I need to be loved. I need to do something greater. I need to do something more.” There was never any satisfaction. I carry this weight that nobody knew about for my entire adult life. I also mirrored what I knew about my dad and I had to tell you, what an eight-year-old boy writes on his heart has nothing to do with how his dad feels about him. I didn’t find that out until after the grizzly attack that an eight-year-old boy doesn’t know how to process that stuff.
A nine-year-old, seven-year-old boy, it doesn’t matter. You don’t know how to process that stuff. You only have limited ability to answer the questions. I told you how I answered the questions. I carried that darkness and that weight through all of my relationships, through everything. People paid the price because Greg had to be the best. Greg had to be at the top and it didn’t matter how I got there because it wasn’t the position at the top that I wanted. It was the love, it was the affirmation. It was that Greg is okay and now dad would say, “I believe you. You said you would be good and now you are good.” It’s difficult to talk about it, but the more I talk about, the more freedom there is and pressing into that pain.To carry anything in secret is terrible. Click To Tweet
What I want to tell you is my dad is my best friend in the whole world. We are closer than we have ever been. It was what I wrote on my heart. It wasn’t what he was telling me. It was what I was telling myself. You need to remember that. When you’re dealing with wounds from childhood, you go into this thing called arrested development. You don’t grow from those areas until you face it, until you talk about it, until you come to peace with it and until God restores you from it. I don’t know any other way to say it. It’s a long, hard path, but it is so worth it. Now you see the framework, now you see the grizzly attack. When God showed up, I was on my hands and knees. I could hear it. I couldn’t see it. I was bleeding from my neck. I could hear the blood pooling underneath me. That’s how much was flowing out of my neck. I thought, “That’s it. Greg cannot do any more circus tricks. Greg cannot achieve anything. Greg is done.” I know from eight years old, nobody’s going to be there to carry me because I let the bear get the drop on me. I failed, I’m injured and I’ve done wrong. My decisions, not being able to avoid it, whatever it is. I had arrived at a point where I had done wrong and that there was nothing worth anybody stepping in to save Greg. That’s where I was, but that is exactly where God, my dad in heaven, who I had accepted Christ in my junior year of high school, and I loved Him and He loved me.
I know that accepting Christ as my savior. I know I was going to heaven, but I kept my dad and I kept the Lord at arm’s length because I could not believe the lie that I had wrote on my heart about unworthiness and unlovable and that no one is going to be there I can rely on, no one but myself. When I was thinking that I was drawing my last breath, ultimately my last breath is where God wanted me because Greg had nothing left to give. All I could do is look up to heaven and take my last breath and die. God stepped in with unbelievable miracles to show me that what I had believed from my dad leaving and had overlaid on my relationship with God. Those lies that my dad and my dad and heaven thought I was nothing worth loving, that I was unworthy, that I was nothing worth sticking around for. He totally wipes that away because he showed up when Greg could not do anything else. Anybody including God, would show up. The only reason that he would do stuff as he did with the miracles in my life and being able to survive that brutal attack, the walk back out and the hypothermia on the beach and thinking they were going to leave me.
He was going to have to leave me on the beach to go get help and having to look down and site down that rifle and imagine that bear coming up the beach. He was there throughout the entire thing. He gave me a vision of my family. He gave me a vision of my daughter calling to me, saying, “Daddy, you have to fight to come home to us.” Clear as day and I’m telling you, you look at my bona fides and what I’ve done with my life and the seriousness of the things that I’ve taken on. I’m telling you with the seriousness of all those things, God showed up. This is not my book. This is not my message. I shouldn’t be here. I should be dead. The fact is that I’ve always been a helper and a protector. This has given me the mission that I should have had my entire life.
One is loving Greg for who he is and knowing that I’m loved by my dad in heaven and my dad. Two, working to help people heal from wounds that they walk around with every day that are killing them inside, that are killing their marriages. That are killing the relationships with their kids. I even made a decision during this whole process of being so jacked up in the head from that wound. I was married for seven years and she loved me deeply. I refused to have children because I was convinced, I would never ever be a good dad. She loved me and all she wanted was to do what married couples do and have children. I was convinced I would overlay that pain and that wound and somehow, I would not be around. Somehow they would grow up and be convinced that they were unworthy of love, that I had failed and I had broken them somehow and I was convinced I would never ever do that.You don't grow from those wounds from childhood until you face it, talk about it, come to peace with it, and until God restores you from it. Click To Tweet
I had to make a decision and she wanted to have children. We ended up getting a divorce over that. There’s a lot of burning wreckage in my life from a wound that I wrote on my heart a long time ago. I’m not going to ruin the book for you because there were multiple miracles. The blood that erupted from my face and blinded me and the ringing in my ears from the shock. I felt the Lord come in behind me and holding me when that bear was ravaging me for over two minutes. I haven’t had a single nightmare. That is one small miracle, not a single nightmare. He shrouded my eyes and guarded my ears against the most terrible points of that attack.
It goes on from there throughout the walk out. I collapsed twice. When I finally made it to the boat, there was miracle after miracle. There was something that happened in the hospital that will absolutely blow your mind. I’m telling you it’s the absolute truth. God showed up in a way that I could never even imagine. He wiped all that pain, all those lies away from my heart. Now, I live in freedom from that. The enemy has been bound and cast to the pit him and his lie. I have never experienced any time in my life a sense of purpose, fulfillment and joy. Probably a bunch of you out there, whether it’s business or being a first responder or a pilot, we could talk at length about the things that we’ve done. When I was dying and I thought, “This is it,” I started thinking about all the things that I had achieved and accomplished in my life. I can tell you that those things do not mean a thing when you are looking death straight in the face.
Why should we not live that way? Tim McGraw, his song Live Like You Were Dying. If we all live like that, I wish I could all give you those last moments of my life that you could live. They’re not to scare you, but so you could have that awakening that I had as to what matters in life. That’s a relationship. I’m not talking about church. I’m not talking about praying. I’m not talking about the Bible. Those are elements that you pursue because you want to be closer in intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact is that relationship with God, that relationship with your wife, with kids, that is what God created, and that is where purpose and fulfillment I have found for me. That’s where it lies. I had traded treasure for trash for too long while the Lord and my family waited on the sidelines, cheering me on. It is encouraging me when all they wanted was for me to invest as much as I had invested in all those other things that didn’t mean anything.
They wanted me to invest in them, in conversation, in a relationship, on being present, on being attentive, in trying to establish things to be a godly leader in my family. All of those things that I had just maintained and had pursued, all my heart was pursuing those other things. In the end, it doesn’t mean anything. You need to hear that and you need to know what I’m saying because what I’m saying is absolute truth. Those things, when it all comes down to it, they mean nothing. The relationships are where you find purpose, where you find that fulfillment that we’re all looking for, man and woman.God shows up in ways we could never even imagine and wipes all the pain and all the lies from our hearts. Click To Tweet
I don’t compare myself to the Lord, but these wounds like I showed you that I wear on my arm. I call that my Jesus wound because that’s where the fangs came all the way through my arm. I love my wounds and the only reason I love my wounds is that when I look at them, I know that they have brought healing and they have restored me. They have healed the broken heart of a little boy that didn’t know how to be healed. He was pursuing what he thought was love, when in fact it wasn’t. There’s someone else who wears scars, who has healed people, who have brought life, who has brought restoration. I know he wears his scars with pride and is thankful for those scars because those scars were put there so that we could have eternal life.
We could have that dad relationship, that ultimate father relationship that we all long for. Even if your dad left you, if your dad passed away. If your dad was present but absent. If you have abandonment issues, if you have any of those things, you have an opportunity to have the perfect dad relationship where you can crawl up on his lap. You can approach the throne because when he sees you, he sees Jesus Christ. The fact is that it has paid the price, those scars, just like my scars remind me of a price that was paid for restoration and life. That’s exactly true. You have the ability to march up there to the creator of everything. The King of Kings, your dad, throw your arms around him and receive not shame, which is what we’re all used to drawing on and keeping us from having those relationships is all the shame from the woundings and all the hurts that we have been through our life. Now, we get to receive.
If you want to study something, study grace and you dads out there that have kids, you know what I’m talking about with grace because your love can never change for your kids. It doesn’t matter what they do. It doesn’t matter how bad they are. It doesn’t matter anything. They could be in prison and your love never changes. That’s just a small microcosm of how much God wants that relationship with you and how he wants to love you in a personal relationship where you can talk to him and you can share everything that you’re hurting about. You can share all those joys and he will walk beside you. It’s about the relationship. It’s not about religion. That’s how I was healed. I’m so glad that I’ve been given the opportunity to share that with you. I want you to know with Wild Awakening, there is so much to unpack there, but what it reveals is the ultimate dad that loves us more than we can even imagine that wants to come into every single detail of your life and be as real as the conversation that we’re having.
Greg, how does somebody get the book?
I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I did an audiobook also. It’s in the author’s voice. You get the inflection, you get being choked up. It was hard to get through it so they can get that on Audible, which I think is through Amazon. Any bookstores that sell books, the book is out there. It’s on the release table. The Lord has blessed it in a number of genres. It’s a bestseller release on Amazon. You can get it on Google Books. Also, you can go to my website, which is https://ChaseWhatMatters.today. You can order it there. You can find out more about my speaking events. I’m going to start some blogging. It is starting to explode and I’m getting some tremendous feedback from all ages, all male and female. This is God’s message and I’m just going to be the conduit. Whether it’s 1 person or 1,000 people or 10,000. I want to be the conduit to share the story that the Lord has given me and how he saved my life.
There are some people out there that resonated with I know more than one. What Greg and I are going to do is pray with you. Get the book, read the book and then get in touch with Greg.
Get in touch with me at Whitetail Rendezvous and Greg can be reached at Greg@ChaseWhatMatters.today. Greg, why don’t you just lead us in prayer for the people that are reading this and give them the opportunity to give them their heart to Jesus.
Dear Lord Jesus, I just thank you for this opportunity to pray to you as our Dad and our Father in heaven who knows us intimately. You know the very number of hairs on our head. You know the pain and the woundings that we have gone through because you have stitched us together in our mother’s womb. You knew us before we were even born. God, I know what you have written on my heart. I know what you have done for me. I know that what you have done to rescue me. I know the miracles that you performed and I know that this message, Lord, is for somebody out there that you want to speak directly to. That it’s time. God has not given up on you. He is not done with you. He needs you to fight. Fight for your family, fight for your relationships, fight for your addiction, over your addiction.
Lord, I know for a fact that there are needs out there that you want to come to them as the ultimate Dad. God, I asked Lord, that you would touch them even now, that you would touch their heart. You would open them up to receiving that incredible gift of your love in their life. They would receive that incredible gift of your ultimate sacrifice for us, Lord, which is you sacrifice your son, Jesus on the cross to die for our sins. That we might spend eternity and we might live in relationship in this world, Lord, in the perfect dad relationship with you. I know that there are lots of people who want that God. Lord, in their mind, as they’re reading, that they would pray this simple prayer, that Jesus, I am a sinner.
I know that I’m a sinner and that I am broken. I have things in my life that are full of shame, that are full of wounds. I know that in my mind, I probably think that there is no forgiveness for the things that I have done. We know that that’s not the truth. We accept that gift that covers all of that sin and provides that pathway to that relationship with you. I accept your son Jesus Christ as my savior. I know that my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, that I will spend eternity with you. It’s as simple as that, and I thank you that you’ve made it so simple, Lord. I ask that you would touch hearts and you would anoint the words, God, that you have given me to carry this message of healing, to carry this message of restoration to everyone out there who’s reading. It’s in Jesus’ precious name that we pray. Amen.
- Greg J. Matthews
- Wild Awakening
- Audiobook – Wild Awakening
- Amazon – Wild Awakening
- Google Books – Wild Awakening
About Greg Matthews
Greg Matthews was the ultimate poster-boy for masculinity. Avid hunter and outdoorsman, Air Force and civilian firefighter, EMT, rescue helicopter pilot, fugitive recovery agent, Ground Zero volunteer and more, Greg had spent his whole life striving to serve others but for all the wrong reasons.
After his parents’ divorce when he was young, Greg believed deep down that the only way he could be loved and valued—by his father, by his family, and by God—was if he earned it through daring, high-stakes, high-risk—what society commonly refers to as “manly”—achievements.