During our first year of marriage sixteen years ago, my husband and I were having conversations about our jobs and our dreams and our hopes. He looked at me and said: "I'm more sure of your calling than mine....so let's figure out how to get you there."
He was working for a small graphic design studio and I was fresh out of college and wanted to work in campus ministry. Back then, the ministry I wanted to work with required that both the husband and wife work together in that ministry. My husband is a very talented designer, artist, creator, and now filmmaker and business owner. He was not eager to do what I was passionate about; he had his own passions.
His response: Let's get as creative as we can, but if there is no other way for you to get into ministry than both you and I do it, then I will do that.
This was the beginning of our life-long dance of two callings under one roof.
Two different kinds of gifts, job skills, leadership, dreams, hopes all in one marriage. The "two becoming one" of marriage didn't mean we abandoned our whole selves at the altar, forsaking who we were made to be, melting into one other unidentifiable kind of person. Becoming one has much more to do with serving one another, putting one another above the other, loving one another, laying down our lives for one another. It means we forsake all others and are united to each other under one King.
And in every season of our marriage there has been a different rhythm to the dance of two callings under one roof.
As a young married couple:
We got creative and I was able to work on campus and he worked as a designer. We worked different shifts and figured out ways to be together and build our marriage. It was just us. Flexibility and bending for one another didn't cost us that much. We had five years of just us and enjoyed our independence as well as our oneness.
The Baby and Little Years:
So often death must happen to give birth to new life. And the cost of laying down my life came head on with our first child. I was nursing and I was home. It was hard and beautiful and the growing pains of our new adjustment were real. This season (and for all three of our babies) was a time where we both chose to do less. We had more of our own family and less of our own time. With each person added to our family, the cost got higher. And my calling grew fuller: Motherhood and Ministry. And in this new rhythm we had to figure out how motherhood and my calling fit together. My husband had to do the same. How did being a father and being a creative entrepreneur work together?
At each opportunity we had to ask: What can I lay down and what can I pick up? We had to ask God and we had to ask each other. We weren't solo anymore. We were two people under the same roof and we were one. And when your marriage is built on Jesus, serving one another in love is a big deal.
We then chose what to lay down and what to pick up by faith. Sometimes it was beautiful, sometimes it was a hot mess. But we kept asking God and each other about using our gifts. Even if it was once a month. Or every day. We kept talking about it and making space for the other's calling/work/dreams.
I am flying out for work, how can I make this as easy for you as I can?
Can I speak at this retreat and you stay with the kids?
Thursday evenings are your night; I'll be home with the kids and you can be on campus, sound good?
Let's be real: there were (and still are) many tears in this phase and blame and heated discussions about whose job trumped whose. Which was the wrong way to see it. We aren't against each other. We are teammates. Working together with two callings under one roof. Regretfully, sometimes we stole from one another to make space for our calling. Turns out gift-giving and creating space for the other to soar works much better. Gift-giving brings life to a marriage.
The School Years:
My day is freeing up a bit more each year as two of my three kids are in school. And I look every teacher in the eye and say: Thank you. Thank you for being passionate about your calling. I watch these teachers love my kids, teach them amazing things about algebra and the Bill of Rights, and expand their world in all kinds of ways. It's a beautiful village. There are women teaching in our school system that I mentored and coached in college and it's this lovely cycle of giving and growing. Everyone using their gifts in our village.
I continue to watch my motherhood and ministry weave together. My full calling pushes and pulls and expands and gives grace to itself. My firstborn son now wants me to practice my ministry talks, sermons, and seminars on him; he wants to listen in. He claps when I'm done and cheers me on. What fun to see my children want me to do a good job with my gifts! My children are watching their mom make space for their dad, and their dad carve out space for their mom. They are watching gift-giving and two callings in one marriage. That's one of the best gifts I can give them.
So dearest married couple: you can hold all kinds of dreams and callings and hopes together. Some need to lay low for a season. Some must die altogether to give birth to new ones. Some need to be refined. And it might take a village of callings to make them all work. But listen and ask questions and make space and room for each other. Find out what the dreams are. Have they changed? What season are you in? What hopes hide in your wife's heart? What dreams are underneath your husband's hard work? Lay things down. Give gifts of time and space and listening ears and hearts. See what life comes when we give gifts freely to one another.
May you, by faith, move mountains for two callings under one roof.