Who’s the Fairest of Them All?
By Janel Breitenstein
In college, a boy told me he was in love with me. (Spoiler: not my husband-to-be.)
One of my favorite qualities? He was kind of adoring. Everyone wants to feel like someone would lay their jacket across a puddle. And there were days early in my marriage when I wondered if I should have opted for Jacket Man.
Because my husband is one of the most relentlessly truthful dudes I have ever met. And flattery and truth-telling are rarely found in the same person.
Many days, I’m grateful. My husband’s a trustworthy mirror.
He’s close, courageous, knowledgeable, and strong enough to be not just a “yes-man” but a “no-man.” He’s not taken in by my ruses, manipulations, skillful maneuvering, or ways I fool myself.
But sometimes I just wish I could spend a few days at the beach, far from mirrors. Parts of my body buried in the sand. Mostly my head.
And then God reminds me of our utter blindness toward our own junk. How we consistently under-appraise our sin’s effects. Of our need for a mirror.
Our spouse (kids, parents, friends) could likely tell us, in a heartbeat, what sin we wrestle with—or fail to—that character trait we think is under control, with its minimal impact. But we’ve all been left in a Bible-loving, Spirit-walking Christian’s wake. The Bible’s pretty clear we need an entire body of people wrestling us toward holiness.
Who are our “no people”? As we ascend in leadership or status, it becomes even more critical to have them around us—because just as with our strengths, the effects of our sin become more widespread and powerful.
Would my husband tick the box of “fan” or “adoring” in his husband-y job description? Yes. He’s my biggest/most. You can tell because he cares enough to say something. He’s not snowed by what I look like on paper.
And that’s a good thing. Because I need a true friend … even more than an adoring fan.
The good stuff: For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Philippians 3:8-9)
- What does your typical reaction to criticism reveal about your heart’s humility and teachability? (What would your spouse say?)
- Are you willing to accept truth from any source about your character, no matter the person’s status or method?
- Looking back, what constructive criticism changed your life?
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