During a recent Lifeseek meeting we discussed what it means to be “set apart”. It was an interesting discussion, as the answers were varied, and we all had more than one way that we experience our uniqueness. As the discussion continued I shared that my father had adopted me, and I didn’t find out until later in life. This led the conversation in the direction of what it means to be adopted by God, and truly accepting Him as our Father.
As I thought about the conversation I had two words that kept coming to my mind: Adopting and adapting, I considered them both in all aspects of my life. I looked up their meanings and found that they are much more similar than I realized, almost interchangeable.
Adopting: Official acceptance, the act or process of beginning to use something new and different. Take on or assume an position
Adapting: Make something useful for a new purpose, or use. Undergo modification so as to fit new circumstances. To modify it to suit your requirements.
The ‘a’ and the ‘o’ seemingly the most notable difference. I thought about how I’ve used my adapting abilities as a means of surviving. The quicker I could figure out new people, or new situations the easier I could outwardly blend in. Once people assume you’re like them their guard comes down, and you better understand where they are coming from. It’s given me a more well rounded perspective, and a better understanding of how experiences will shape oneself. I used this adaptive mode when I was younger, and cared greatly about what others thought about me. As an adult I use it more sparingly, one, because I no longer care as greatly what most people think of me.
Secondly assumptions can be made when you are only adapting, and not living in the experience. I may anticipate a certain reaction and have a ready response, and when it’s not given I’m at a loss as to how to respond. Adapting is only successful when everyone behaves as I expect. Additionally it’s easy to lose oneself when you’re constantly trying to fit in. Another person’s way of living, while not entirely suitable, certain aspects might be useful is sort of a back-pocket type of belief.
For me adopt seemed more in line with what God wants for us. Adopt has the connotations of an embrace, a hug that is more of a body lock which can be extremely uncomfortable if you’re not accustomed to it. That’s how it can be with God, when you’re one of his chosen, the elect, it can be uncomfortable. He’s called you for a task that feels insurmountable with ordinary hands. Your faith may not be deep enough if you’ve only been adapting on the surface. Election in biblical terms can be defined as God’s choice of an individual or group for a specific purpose or destiny…except now that sounds more like adapt. However a change has to occur in order to make the new purpose or destiny fulfilled, which brings me back to adopt.
I think about Nehemiah who left a life of serving in relative comfort to adopt a new position of serving in an inhospitable environment. A cup-bearer by listening to God not only restored a city, he played a key role in the citizens turning back to God. He had no idea how God’s plan would work, but he did know the power of prayer. He utilized that power continuously, and allowed himself to be stretched to such a degree that the impossible became a reality.
I can’t say definitively if adapting is wrong. We can get in unexpected situations where we need to adapt our way of thinking in order to reach someone. Same for adopt, if we go to another country it’s helpful to adopt some of their customs which can be a sign of respect. What I can say definitively is if it’s not of God’s doing, it won’t matter. If God isn’t fitting me in, then I’ll be uncomfortable, if He’s not setting me apart, I’ll wait.
James 1:14 “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing”