Christians are familiar with the concept of being set apart. We are not to love the world or the things in it (1 John 2:15) and we are not to conform to the world's views but be transformed by the continual renewal of our thoughts (Romans 12:2). John and Paul counseled us on how we are to be different.
But, as special needs parents, we can become even more separated from the life we've purposefully planned and cultivated. We get pulled in an entirely new direction and it might feel like we are being cast aside instead of set apart. Maybe Abraham felt that way. His familiar life was disturbed, shaken up and distanced, from everything he was accustomed to, brought to a new land, new people, and new experiences. It's not easy being a stranger. And special needs parents can feel like that too. We get redirected to a new journey with unexpected experiences, people, and places. We become a stranger, thrust into a new world. But just as Yahweh was with Abraham on his rerouted journey, He is with us on ours too.
To be set apart means something has been removed from the collective. It's been separated from the pack for a purpose. Just as God purposefully set Abraham apart, God has called our special needs families to be set apart. It is not a mistake that God calls us out of our comfort zone and into the unknown. Notice in Genesis 12:1, God tells Abraham to go and Abraham does it. Abraham obeys and abandons the life he was comfortable with for one unknown and uncertain. Most of us got thrust into the realm of special needs with the same simple command. Go. Abraham left with no idea where his journey would take him. He had no certainty as to how things would turn out. He simply abandoned his future to God and trusted the call to be set apart, to be different from the culture he knew, and to trust that God would guide him along the way.
Special needs parents have been called to be set apart, just like Abraham. We are expected to walk a different path than our neighbors, friends, & family. We are called to look different than even our closest Christian peers. This separation can feel lonely at times, but we should have confidence that God will give us wisdom and peace as we pursue Him, fully trusting in Him like Abraham did.
When we fully lean into our Father and trust His plans, even though the journey may be difficult and demanding, we can take comfort in knowing our diverted direction is purposeful and pleasing to Him. The harder road is not the path for everyone. It has been chosen for you because God knows what He is doing and He will see you through. You have been set apart to take a different journey. Have faith in the path you are on. God will give you the grace to see it through. And even though we can't see out of the valley, we can trust the Shepherd is graciously leading the way.
1. In what specific ways have you felt set apart? How does today's reading offer you hope in that journey?
2. Do you struggle with trusting God in the path He has you on? You aren't alone! Write out a prayer to God and thank Him for all the gifts He's given you, and let it be a reminder of His faithfulness even when you feel lonely and set apart.