When I tugged open the mailbox and plucked the items from within, one particular envelope grabbed my attention. Nostalgia engulfed me as an invitation to the 50th anniversary celebration of the church of my youth rested in my hands. This was the church where I had bonded with fellow teenagers at Falls Creek. Where I had whispered and giggled in the back of the sanctuary until the evil eye from my mother stilled my lips and refocused my attention on the sermon.
Within its walls I had been baptized and felt the tug of the Holy Spirit revealing that someday God would use me significantly for his purposes. My sixteenth birthday celebration, hours of choir rehearsal, awards for memorizing the most Bible verses, and athletic victories were sealed in my memories of my former church.
I didn’t arrive at the decision to attend the festivities easily. A list of my favorite things doesn’t include participating in reunions. Contact with former friends and acquaintances always generates the dreaded questions: “Are you married? How many children do you have?” With my replies of “no” and “none,” come curious and puzzled glances. I immediately imagine the thoughts racing through their minds, “She must be gay. Why hasn’t she landed a man?” I wasn’t convinced I was up to explaining my role, but my desire to spend time with my family prodded me to accept the invitation.
Bingo! Within seconds of entering the registration area, my former pastor, recognizing the one whom he had immersed in the baptismal waters, hugged me. Glancing at my nametag, he inquired, “So are you still just a Pulliam?” A unique thought popped into my mind, I grinned, and replied, “Yep, I’m still a Pulliam…I’m a Baptist nun.” During the customary “marrying years,” I didn’t realize that my vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience would follow me into my middle-age years.
“Just a Pulliam.” The comment reverberated for days. I heard God whispering from the pages of Leviticus, “I have set you apart from the nations to be mine (20:26).” Recalling a verse in Acts where the Holy Spirit said to set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work in which God had called them, I exclaimed, “Hey, I’m not just a Pulliam, I am a chosen instrument of God.” To be single indicates I’ve been set apart for his purposes. I have received an extraordinary calling that not everyone accepts or endures. If my Savior can remain single to do the will of the Father, then so can I.
Paul expressed it best in 1 Corinthians 7:34: An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. I’m married to Jesus. A silver band encircles my wedding ring finger to signify my commitment to Christ. Embossed on its surface is the cross—my reminder of his sacrifice to eternally have my hand in marriage. Flanking the cross are fish, which represent my pledge to him. I will be a fisher of men, dedicating my life to casting out nets instead of preparing family meals and rearing children.
Not everyone receives a call to singleness, but God sets apart each individual for a chosen assignment. Have you discovered and embraced your purpose? I have. I’m not just a Pulliam, I’m “Mrs. Bright and Morning Star.” God is my husband. Now if I could only find a way to get him to take out the trash every Tuesday morning.
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/