“Mama, where is the crab?”
“The crab. You know, that thing you use to pinch the spaghetti and pick it up.”
“Ohhhh. You mean the tongs.”
“Yeah, sure, whatever. Where are they?”
“Last time I saw them, you were chasing your brother around trying to pinch him with them.”
“Oh, yeah. Never mind. I know where they are.”
Repurposing is a normal concept around my house. Tongs become crabs. Butter knives turn into screw drivers. And wooden spoons are used as drumsticks.
As we are in the last few weeks of our six-year home build, I think of the many parts of our home that have been repurposed. Our ceiling used to be the walls of an old church building. Our dining room light is made from a horse yoke. And our bench for the table is a pew from my grandparents’ church. All these items, which had a particular job and function for a season, have now been repurposed for the new season to come.
What’s My Purpose?
Originally, I wanted to be an artist—until I realized I couldn’t draw. Then I shadowed an investigator with the sheriff’s department. I was hooked—until I saw crime photos filled with blood. I briefly considered being a firefighter—but I’m not a big fan of heights. Then I took a skills test in ninth grade that told me I had the making of a fabulous podiatrist—no thank you.
Then eleventh grade journalism class happened. I had a scheduling conflict, and it was the only available class that even sounded remotely interesting. By the end of the semester, the teacher offered me a job as the editor of the school newspaper. I fell in love with writing, editing, and graphic design. I toyed with the idea of pursuing a degree in journalism but convinced myself I’d never make any money writing.
The Air Force recruited me heavily around that time and I almost took the bait—but the physical fitness part wasn’t my thing. After a mission trip to China, I looked into a mission or ministry degree from a Christian college. Then I chased the possibility of a psychology degree, leaning more toward the counseling direction.
My two years at community college ended and I still had no idea. I signed up for the Patient Care Tech program knowing I needed to do something—but the blood thing came full circle. Finally, I ended up at a summer camp and fell in love with teaching kids. I was offered a job that week by a teacher at a small Christian school, then I learned about Florida A and M University starting a teaching program at night at the community college, and my mind was made up. I would be a teacher.
After all my searching, God opened the door for me to become a teacher. And I thought I would be a lifer in the local elementary school—until I quit after six years. Well, I quit full-time teaching, anyway. God planted and watered the dream of motherhood in my heart and for nearly a decade, I worked as an adjunct instructor between two colleges teaching future teachers how to teach, while also staying at home with my young kids. I was still a teacher, but it looked different than in the past.
My writing dream also reemerged during this season. I didn’t know exactly how to do it, or even what I was supposed to be writing, I just knew there was a tug deep in my soul that couldn’t be ignored any longer. So, I played around with some children’s books, devotions, and even parts of my testimony when I had a few minutes during nap time, but never gained much traction.
But then my kids were both in school. And whether I knew then or not, God was ready to repurpose me yet again. A decade of leadership skills was built as I supervised student teachers through Saint Leo University. I learned how to teach and interact with adults through the face-to-face classes I taught at North Florida College. My degree in Educational Leadership taught me how to plan, organize, and motivate people who were under my jurisdiction.
In 2019, I accepted the part-time position of Outreach and Connections Coordinator at my church. I soon let go of teaching at the collegiate level, which allowed time for seriously chasing my writing career. Then doors opened for speaking and teaching spiritual disciplines at two recovery facilities.
It’s amazing how God repurposes us. He planted a desire for ministry way back as a teenager and now ministry is my job! Then the desire to pursue writing began in late high school and now I have published two books and more to come! He placed me in the field of education, then he opened the door to teach adults, which prepared me for this season of teaching in recovery centers.
All my experiences, decisions, and crazy stories—he keeps using every single one. He’s repurposed all the pieces into a life that fits this season he has brought me to.
Willing to be Repurposed
Repurposing doesn’t just happen—it’s a choice. What if I didn’t listen and continued teaching elementary school forever? What if I said no to the church staff position and continued teaching college classes? What if I just dinked around and never got serious about writing? What if I kept my leadership ability and training to myself instead of offering it to God for use in his kingdom?
My life would not have been repurposed.
I’ve often heard pastors preach about God not wanting just our ability, but our availability. Are we available? Are we looking for ways to let God use us? Are we offering all the parts of our lives—past, present, future—to God?
Just because we’ve always thought of ourselves as a tong doesn’t mean that we are destined to be a tong forever. Who knows, maybe it’s time to be a crab.
© Christy Bass Adams, November 2022
All photos from Pixabay