Can One Marriage Support Two Callings?
Image: Pan Xunbin / Shutterstock

After suffering a panic attack in a Shenzhen municipal office, I began to ask God why he had brought me to China at all.

My husband and I had moved overseas believing we were called to work on his startup. I left a job and friends I loved to support his dream of providing solar products for the developing world. I convinced myself that it was my dream, too.

But less than a year later, our attempts to forge a shared vocational path broke down. The nonstop work of entrepreneurship, coupled with navigating my Chinese American identity in a surprisingly foreign culture, pushed me into a debilitating depression. Without community, career, or the emotional health to pursue either, I no longer had a sense of purpose. And I blamed my husband’s clarion call from God that had led us there.

In the end, we had to confront a question that many couples ask: God has called us together in marriage, but what callings does he have for each of us? How do we balance—and support—our distinct gifts and purposes?

In marriage, husband and wife offer themselves in mutual submission and sacrificial love. But one flesh doesn’t necessarily mean one calling. Instead, “each person is given something to do that shows who God is” (1 Cor. 12:7, MSG).

How we live out our “something to do” amid marriage and family can be trying when one spouse’s calling—whether in the home, the office, or the church—is all-consuming and requires significant sacrifice from the other.

It seemed like my husband and I had to take turns living with divine purpose. As long as we were in China, I suffered while my husband thrived. If we returned to the States, he would leave a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I could return ...

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Can One Marriage Support Two Callings?
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October 2015

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