From the minute I crossed the threshold of my first-grade classroom, I knew that a school was where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. The thought of being a teacher made my heart pitter-patter. My desire never wavered as I began babysitting, working at daycare centers, and majoring in elementary education. My purpose involved shaping young minds.
Upon graduating from college, I accepted my first teaching position—teaching migrant workers’ children in California. I had my very own classroom full of students entrusted to me for 188 days. But something else began to tug at my heart. I loved writing, devoured books like candy, and enjoyed examining how movies were created. The entertainment industry called to me. Come and write television scripts. Hollywood needs Christian writers. Thus began a new journey.
Fun and excitement swirled around me as I attended tapings of shows such as Facts of Life, Family Ties, and Designing Women. Through those venues I learned stage direction, camera angles, and production schedules. After years of perseverance of writing sample scripts for shows, I finally had several in the hands of the right people. Then all at once, the shows were canceled. I heard God announce, “It’s time to go home to Oklahoma.” I thought, “All this wasted time of working on writing. God, did you go off on a tangent? Is this a detour from my real purpose?”
Stage two of my teaching career began with educating eighth graders about the foundations of our country. Throwing myself into being the best teacher with a wealth of knowledge, training, and creative activities, I spent my summers studying and traveling. Teaching about the Holocaust became a passion. I joined a teacher study trip with Holocaust survivors, and we traveled to Poland and Israel. I became a Fellow with the Holocaust museum in D.C. I felt a stirring inside to create a Holocaust resource center for the state of Oklahoma to better equip teachers and assist students. My purpose was to traverse the state to share lessons in classrooms. After years of hard labor, I heard God say, “Close the doors. This is not your future.” My first reaction was, “What?! I just devoted five years of my life to this endeavor. Why, God? Did you take me on another detour?” He replied, “I will use this experience one day.”
Several months later God birthed Arise Ministries, my purpose during my life on earth. All of my past experiences were leading to this one endeavor. My years of developing creative lessons assisted with my sharing God’s Word. The hours dedicated to writing scripts were practice for writing Bible studies. Creating the nonprofit Holocaust resource center instilled knowledge needed to run a new ministry. My time spent in Hollywood cultivated into proficiency filming promos and Bible studies and managing the production side of conferences.
This truth became even more real for me during a leadership conference we hosted several years ago. I stood on stage speaking and looked down to see Lisa Whelchel watching from the front row. Lisa Whelchel, whom I had spent many an hour observing from the audience at tapings of Facts of Life, now shared this event. Twenty-five years later God had brought us together again to accomplish His purposes. I heard Him whisper, “I told you I would use it someday.” God utilizes all of our experiences to prepare us for what is to come. He doesn’t create detours; He sets building blocks for what He’s called us to accomplish and achieve.
What is God doing in your life? He may be preparing you for future works. Don’t become mired in what you consider detours. Instead climb the building blocks to peer into the promised land of your purpose.
About Shelley Pulliam
Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media. https://www.instagram.com/shelleypulliam/