When I was a kid I was NOT athletic in the least. I was a bookworm, loved to read anything I could get my hands on. When we had spelling bees, I usually won. Classroom games were fun for me.
But out on the playground was a totally different story. I absolutely hated it when the teacher would pick two team captains and have them choose their team members because I was ALWAYS the last one chosen. In fact, there were times when the “captains” would actually argue over who would HAVE to have me on their team. I’d feel my face burning flaming red with the humiliation, and I’d hang my head and hope nobody would see the tears in my eyes because then they’d taunt me even more about being a cry-baby.
My first big dose of rejection – and somehow that feeling never quite goes completely away. With every form of rejection throughout my life, I still can feel that hurt, deep in the pit of my stomach.
Recently I’ve had to slog through what seems like an endless pit of cruel rejections. Some of the heartaches have dredged up feelings nearly identical to those I once felt in the last years of a toxic relationship. I’ve been physically ill, unable to eat, from the hurt caused by cruel words and actions. At one point, I curled up in bed next to my husband and sobbed that I just wanted to die. He gently whispered in my ear, caressed my shaking shoulders, and let me work at exorcising the demons that were tormenting me.
It’s almost like coming to grips with the death of a loved one. I’ve had good days and bad days, ups and downs. I’ve “put on the pretty face” in public, but in private I can be myself. I’ve smiled some, even laughed some. But more often I’ve burst into tears at anything or nothing.
I’m blessed to have a husband and mom and dad who are loving and compassionate. They’re my greatest encouragers and cheerleaders. I know that they, too, are feeling the rejection through me. It is through their love that I am learning to crawl out from under the triple truckloads of rubble burying my heart.
But there’s another Great Helper I’m leaning upon. I believe that in order to truly love others, a person must first learn how to love themselves. This means learning to overcome past rejections, learning to see yourself as Jesus sees you. This also means that any time the enemy can slow you down by slinging stuff “in your face” – he will do just that. So somewhere, in the midst of the muck & mire of rejection, a person just has to focus on that one clear thought: that JESUS doesn’t reject us, no matter what. That’s like a rope, lowered down into the pit, that we can grab hold of and begin to be pulled back into the reality that we’re really “OK.”
Life’s not always peachy keen, and the rules can change as we go. Sometimes people do things out of spite or meanness and they simply don’t realize how deeply their words or actions cut into another’s soul. I have to believe that sometimes folks are encouraged to perform cruel actions by others who are, quite frankly, cowards.
I’ve come a long way since the days of humiliation on the playground. I’ve learned to laugh off some things. I’ve learned to develop a “thick skin” where many of my shortcomings are involved. I’ve also learned that there are people who are toxic to my emotional well-being – and it becomes necessary for me to step aside for a while.
Life goes on. Rejections – though difficult and painful – are NOT the “end of the world” to me. In fact, they are helping me to press in to Jesus and press on to fulfill the purpose He has for me in this lifetime.
And, in the midst of rejections, that is my Silver Lining!