A few weeks back, the window on my husband’s car wouldn’t roll back up. It made this awful grinding noise and I feared the repair bill that would follow. My husband has had the car for a long time and it’s starting to wear down. But, instead of taking the car to the shop, my husband announced he was going to attempt to fix it.
My first inclination was to stop my husband in his tracks and encourage him to just take it to a repair shop. Why? Because he doesn’t know cars. He isn’t a car guy. But, he is an engineer and he never ceases to amaze me with the things he can learn to do. So, I kept my mouth shut and let him try.
He researched it on Youtube, went and bought the parts, and set about the task of fixing the window. In the end, it was fixed and perfect. He did a great job and I could tell it gave him a lot of satisfaction to do it himself. He felt accomplished and I was proud of him. It was evident that he enjoyed the challenge. I’m glad that I didn’t encourage him to just take it to a shop.
I’ve noticed my husband seeks challenges. There is a mountain near our house here in Vegas that he *had* to climb. He trained last year to challenge himself to run a marathon. He spent many a Saturday running mile-after-mile. I could have complained about lost time with him, but I knew he needed this challenge.
But, it isn’t just him. My dad turned 60 this past year and what did he want to do? Climb a mountain with my brother and my husband.
My brother within the past couple of years took on the challenge of transforming his thin frame into a more muscular one. He challenges himself through Tough Mudders, lifting more, and even in helping others, as a personal trainer, get fit.
Even my two-year old son seeks challenges. He climbs on everything. He wants to carry all the big things. He wants to wrestle his dad non-stop. I’m not saying that my daughters didn’t do these things to an extent, but I can see a difference in his need for it.
My husband and I were talking the other night about some boys/men in our lives that seem unmotivated, lazy, or just downright bored with life. I said, “I just wonder what it is that makes them this way?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, my husband said, “They aren’t challenged.”
I asked him to explain.
“Men are wired to take on challenges. We need to fight for the things we want and we won’t appreciate things that come easy. It’s written into our DNA–we need to be challenged. Today, a lot of boys aren’t being challenged in school, sports, or in life. Things are too easy and when men have no challenge, they aren’t motivated.”
I told him that I don’t want to cause this kind of listlessness in our son. He assured me that I wouldn’t, but right there I understood something: My son will learn best through my husband how to challenge himself throughout his life. It is my job to stand out of the way and let the challenges happen–for both my husband and my son. Even when I stand on the sideline and want to blow my safety whistle, I have to restrain myself. I must trust that my husband will not lead our son into danger and that it will be for his greater good.
I’ve seen my husband do this with our daughters, as well. Where I want to swoop in to wipe away all discomfort, Dustin looks at me and asks me to trust him. I see that he takes the harder things in life for our girls and turns them into great teaching moments. He teaches them to face conflict, to be brave, to fight through difficulties, and to push the limits sometimes. Last year, he took our girls on a kayaking trip down the Colorado River for our oldest’s 15th birthday. I was nervous. I’m afraid of water. But, he took them out on the challenge and it was amazing for them. Their faces glowed with confidence and I realized how good the challenge was for them.
Teaching our children to accept challenges, challenges Dustin to be a better father and man. I encourage Dustin to lead our family as a man of God, not because I’m some brainwashed-backwoods weakling and not because he is some patriarchal dictator that demands it. I ask him, because I know that it is what he needs to continue to feel motivated, confident, important, and fulfilled. I ask him, because I love him and I know that the challenge is a part of who he is as a man.
For myself, as well, Dustin challenges me and I need that. Where once my father challenged me in numerous ways, and still continues to do so; Dustin, also, plays that role. Dustin gently guides me to accept new challenges and face them. He helps me overcome fear by helping me to get out of my own head and not overthink things too much. When I see Dustin challenging himself, whether through reading Thomas Aquinas, taking on some new physical test, or even fasting, I am inspired to follow him.
When Dustin first met me, I hated math. He’s an engineer and math comes naturally to him. He remembers equations that I couldn’t conjure up in 50 lifetimes. Anyway, I used to always criticize myself when attempting any math problem. Through the years, Dustin has encouraged me to keep trying and recognize that I just learn differently than him. Through homeschooling our children, I’ve been forced to learn math again. At first, I resisted, but through Dustin’s guidance, I let down my barriers to math and have been able to learn it better than I ever did in school. It was only because Dustin challenged me to try and think differently.
As a wife, one of the greatest gifts I can give my husband is to let him seek and try new challenges. In fact, I should encourage it, as long as it’s reasonable and good. It’s a need of his and these things only help him to grow into a better husband, father, son, co-worker, and, yes, even a better Christian. I’ve also found that when he finds a challenge and I join him in it, it has a way of bringing us even closer.
So, the air conditioner is broken in his car now. He has accepted the challenge and I’ll sit back and enjoy seeing him covered in oil and dirt. 🙂