Recently, my husband Peter was talking to a friend, and the
friend mentioned that his wife had brought up some “character issues” he needed
to deal with. And Peter asked me, “When’s the last time we challenged each
other on “character issues”? Good question. When’s the last time someone
challenged you about your character? The last time someone said–lovingly–that
you needed to work on how you behaved or how you treated someone else? For us,
it’s been a while. 

We challenge each other in implicit ways, of course. Just
living in a household with a husband and three children forces me to think
about my character and how I respond. I know I’m often impatient… I know my
need for order can overcome my care for people… I know I care too much about
getting rid of this baby weight…

I want these things to change. I want to be more loving. I
want to become less vain while still taking care of myself. And I know that if
I asked Peter to help me–hold me accountable–in these areas, change would come
more easily. So why don’t I ask him (or others) to challenge me more often?

Some of it is apathy. Some of it is busyness. And yet I have to believe that much of my resistance comes from a fear of vulnerability. What if other people judge me when I admit my weaknesses and fears and anxieties and all the ways I don’t measure up?

Conversely, I shy away from challenging other people–even the ones I love most–because I’m afraid that they will feel judged, or that they will push me away. And yet I believe that speaking the truth in love is one way we can serve one another.

So Peter and I are going to try to be more direct in challenging one another, trusting that our role as husband and wife is to help each other become more and more the people God created us to be. We’re going to start by telling each other about ourselves. I’ll admit the areas where I know I need to grow, and he’ll do the same. And if we think the other person is blind to something, we will–gently, carefully–point it out.

Do you have anyone who challenges you to grow in character? How do you respond?

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