“I know that I’m not the one out there doing the ‘front lines’ work, but hopefully I can support those who are.”
There was just the slightest catch in her voice.
This dear friend who rarely showed emotion was deeply committed to living faithfully, serving those around her.
“Every time we get ready to go back to the States, I get a little stressed thinking about how to answer the questions about what do I actually do over here. I don’t know how to explain to supporters why my role is valuable.”
What if I’m just here to support my spouse?
Recently I wrote a couple of posts regarding making friends with locals in your area. As I wrote these pieces I thought about those of you who don’t share their spouse’s calling to the local population.
I thought about husbands and wives who come to the field to support their spouses, not because of a particular calling for themselves.
What does fieldwork look like for those who come in support of another?
If this describes you, I’d like to affirm your sacrifice and support of the one you love.
The mission field is no easy assignment. Making the choice to share your heart with your passport country and with your adopted country is not for those who wish to be comfortable.
if I don’t share my spouse’s calling…What does it say about me?
I wonder if you have questions about your own identity, your own purpose as you make this important life change.
Do you ever wonder if something’s lacking because you don’t share your spouse’s calling?
A friend of mine has been living overseas for 11 years, mainly in support of her husband’s calling. She said she had to learn not to try to take on her husband’s calling as her own.
There is the freedom to walk in your path, submitted to the Lord, without thinking that you have to have the same calling as your spouse.
What exactly do you do?
Sometimes the hardest part for my friend was explaining to people back “home” about what she does overseas. If she doesn’t share her spouse’s calling, and if she’s home taking care of kids, is she actually doing the work of a missionary?
I have been encouraged by my friend’s perspective on her role in the field. She knows she will not be on the “front lines,” learning the language to make disciples of the local population. But she can support those who are doing this work.
She helps watch children so parents can have a break or go to language class. Hosts families for meals and helps to encourage those in the trenches of language learning. Organizes Bible study for women in our international church so that women are in God’s Word together.
She does these things out of her home while her husband is able to do the work set before him to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Is it just my spouse’s calling? (Or, “Faithfulness Starts Here”)
I’ve been encouraged by my friend’s example on the days I’m wrapping up another day of laundry and dishes, puzzles and coloring, training in manners and maybe righteousness.
I could do this job anywhere.
During a particular season, this thought would come to my mind often. Sometimes it’s with joy that I can do the role required of me at this time overseas to allow my husband to do his ministry work.
Sometimes it’s with frustration, exhausted by living in a developing country, feeling like there was little to tie me here. In some seasons I have not been as available to take on ministry outside of my home.
As I care for our kids, meeting their needs, and keeping our family healthy, I allow my husband to continue to do his job here.
During those seasons, as I was able, I opened my home, inviting people into our space so they could engage with our hope, our perspective, our family priorities.
The bottom line
No matter where you live, no matter who carries the “primary” calling, it’s possible to live faithfully in the role you have.
We have roles as husbands and wives, dads and moms, hosts and caregivers and administrative assistants and cooks. We can live in these roles, doing the work set before us. It’s never just our spouse’s calling.
As I think about the illustration of the body parts making up the body of Christ, I think about how each has to work together to get a task completed. Although the shoulder does not directly contribute to eating food, its cooperation greatly enables the process. One role isn’t able to say to the other “I don’t need you” (1 Corinthians 12:23).
When Your Spouse Doesn’t Feel as “Called”
Agreeing to go, knowing that is the right decision, is not the same thing as the vision and inspiration of a calling.
And may all of us operate as one body intent on the purpose of loving God, loving our neighbor, and making God known. By God’s grace, we can spur one another on to good works and faithful living.
Sarah serves in Egypt with her husband and four children. You can catch her blog here–and don’t miss her post on Go. Serve. Love about what she wishes she would have known.
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Different Strokes? Marital Differences as You Look Overseas, Part I