When You Just Don't Feel Like One Of Those Set Apart Girls

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I sat in missions class, with my ankles crossed tightly. I was tense. With my journal out on my lap and a brightly colored pen in hand, I took extensive notes on reaching people of different backgrounds with the Gospel. As I sat in the beautiful chapel that warm summer day, one thought seemed to distract me again and again.

“You know you’re really not one of those set apart girls.”

I wanted to make some mental argument against the fact, but interactions with other ladies who seemed to be living poured-out lives made me wonder if there was something unspoken that disqualified me from being “one of them.” 

I was well aware that I had not by any means arrived to some perfected level in my walk with Jesus, but was there some expectation one had to meet, other than just being in Christ, to be considered a woman intentionally set apart for the King of kings? My experiences the previous few weeks made me wonder. I had somehow come to the conclusion that the term “set apart girl” must only apply to an elite group of Christian women who live astoundingly impressive lives. 

As days had gone by at school, I had taken note that there were certain ladies who avoided me. Something I was doing seemed to create discomfort among some people; just what it was had become a mystery to me. 

I’m too talkative. No, I need to try harder to start conversations they’ll enjoy. It’s probably my non-verbals. Don’t smile too much, but don’t frown. Stop being so energetic. Don’t speak encouragement too much, or it will be translated as flattery. Wear this. Get up at such-and-such a time each morning. Don’t be legalistic. Don’t lack discipline. You’re too pushy. Let them start the conversation. Be willing to help. Be confident. Not like that! Don’t hide, but don’t act like you have it all in the bag. 

I was trying to process everything; how do I best honor those around me? I felt extremely discouraged. It seemed like I hit a wall whenever I tried to live normally. “Maybe I just don’t fit the mold.” I would think to myself.

I’ve always been one to take too careful note of how people react. I often subconsciously study facial expressions and tones of voice. What did they truly mean by that?

According to my, probably flawed, observations, I was getting on a particular teacher’s nerves. Four ladies in leadership were made to feel less than comfortable, for whatever reason, around me. Some of my classmates looked down on me.

After a conversation with a friend I had looked up to, it had become apparent that I wasn’t quite reaching the bar. In an attempt to encourage this friend, I had caused discomfort and embarrassment. I was told that I was drawing attention to the individual instead of Jesus.

Oh, a set apart girl wouldn’t do that…. 

I looked out the chapel windows and thought, “Well, I’ll be out of their hair in just a few weeks.” It seemed like the only solution. Maybe I just needed another fresh start, since I had apparently blown this opportunity to live to the fullest.

The two months that followed were two of the darkest I have ever faced in my life. I thought through everything again and again. But it all seemed to say the same thing to my heart: you failed. 

My perspective was that I was too young, too loud, too strong in personality, too rough around the edges, too childish, and too broken for the title of “Set Apart Girl.” I had a past full of heartbreak, and it appeared that I wasn’t moving past it quickly enough. Each time I thought I was “sweeping up the broken pieces” I seemed to bump into someone else, someone more set-apart-girl-esque, and spill them all over again. 

Maybe set apart girls just don’t make these kinds of mistakes.

I felt much shame. Could I still call Amy Carmichael a hero of mine if I was so far off from her place in the endless pursuit of Jesus? Maybe I should stop saying Lillias Trotter is someone I aspire to being like since I am obviously failing at Titus 2 living. Perpetua was a much more impressive eighteen-year-old than I’ve ever been…

True Set-Apart Living

Even in the darkness of feeling unlovely and entirely wrong in nearly every facet, Jesus was present and at work in my heart. Where I had decided things were too broken in my life, after taking the nonverbal that I needed to get things together, I had given up at some level. I wouldn’t have been very likely to bring it up, but I was allowing my identity to be shaped by others’ perspective on my life. If someone I looked up to found issue with something I was doing, I immediately felt I was beyond grace. 

But it wasn’t true.

In the following months, Jesus was gently uncovering my issues and healing them. I had come to the conclusion in my heart and mind that if those in the “Set Apart Girl” ministry did not approve of me, then there was no way I was actually being shaped into a Christ-centered woman. (By the way, the ladies on the SAgirl team were kind to me!)

Jesus was exposing, however, that the only way to live a life that’s pleasing to Him was to get my eyes off of what everyone around me thought, and place my eyes on Him, and believe what He says about me. Am I living for the approval and applause of others, or do I only look to Jesus for security? 

As one writer has said, 

“I live before an audience of One. Before others I have nothing to gain, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose” (Henry Martyn). 

To truly live in a set-apart way means to live fully given to Jesus. It’s to be so taken with your heavenly Prince that all else loses its luster in comparison. I wouldn’t have had to feel insecure for even a moment if I had only seen my situation out of the lens of His Word. 

They don’t approve of me? When it comes down to it, in view of eternity, that doesn’t matter very much. The psalmist in Psalm 119 had this priority: “Thou art my portion, O Lord” (vs. 57). It’s not other Christians’ opinions of us that secure us before the Father; it’s only Jesus (Romans 5:1, 6-11, Ephesians 2:1-10). We’re not saved by someone we look up to telling us that we’re doing great or vice versa. My strength and security today comes only from the One who rescued my soul. He is the one who will keep me and sanctify me, therefore I have nothing to fear. He will not forsake me; He has begun a work within me, and our Jesus never forsakes or forgets the work of his hands.

I’m making someone feel uncomfortable? What if instead of panicking that I’ve ruined my relationship with that friend, I took the position of a servant, and sought out how I could better care for them? In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to serve others the way Jesus did:

 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:5-8).

Instead of hopelessly assuming the friendship is over, what if I was willing to pour out for this individual? Would I be willing to give them space if they need it, or help them out if they ask? 

Being a set apart woman is not about having it all together. It’s not about doing every single thing perfectly, never making a mistake, not having a personality, having every book of the Bible memorized, using fancier words, cooking like Martha Stewart, always being out of your bed by three o’clock in the morning, or being a carbon copy of an impressive Christian you know. 

It’s legalism to assume that we are somehow earning greater favor in Jesus’ eyes by having all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Jesus would not have had to die if we could gain acceptance on our own before God. I am safe and unshaken in my daily life, not because Cassidy is just looking oh-so-spiritual this morning, but because Jesus has taken my place. He is unchanging. No matter what happens to me, and no matter how many areas of my life still need greater sanctification, I will never ever, ever be abandoned. 

My identity is not in my mistakes and mishaps.

My identity is in Christ alone.

Since I am in Christ, I know that He has set me apart for Himself (Psalm 4:3). I did not receive this title of set apart by saving up my behavioral allowance; it is a gift to me from Jesus. He lived the set-apart life, and because my position is in Him, I am robed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). I have grace, the power to live out the life He has called me to, only through Him. It’s not in my own pockets. 

If you, as a woman, believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are a set-apart girl. All because of Jesus (and not because of you). 

“Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (Psalm 116:7-9).


  1. Cassidy I absolutely love this! I have struggled with feeling the exact same way and not known how to articulate it. The pressure to perform is something the Lord is revealing in my own heart. Thank you for your transparency. It a breathe of fresh air to know it is not about what we have done, good or bad. But what He has done for us.

  2. This was such a good post, Cassidy! I often find myself feeling that way in situations where perhaps I'm meeting someone who seems "super spiritual". Just recently, I've finally started reminding myself, "No, I am safe in Christ. He is my identity." I really appreciated your story and the verses you shared about this topic. (And that Psalm 116 verse was the perfect way to end the post!)
    Miss you, friend! <3

  3. I only found this post now, so I'm a little late to the comments, but this was so beautifully written! I relate so much to how you felt, even though my personality is a little different. I've always been told that I'm too quiet and don't speak up enough, but as soon as I do speak up, I'm too opinionated or bold and need to tone it down. I have always been afraid of leaders disapproving of me and thinking I don't quite fit what they want me to be. It is so easy to feel that there is only one right way to be "set apart" for Christ. But the beauty of our God is that he created us all as individuals, that he may be seen in a variety of personalities and characteristics.
    You are such a light, Cassidy, and no matter what people tell you, you are an incredible woman with such a heart for God and his people. You were created in the image of God. Even though we fall and we break and we struggle to pick up the pieces, God uses us in our broken state to show his grace in its fullest.
    You have been such an encouragement to me, and I know you are to others as well!
    Keep up the great work in writing what God has been teaching you! You are so loved and so precious to him and to those around you <3
    Love you and miss you lots!!