Rejection hurts. It's never fun to feel like you aren't wanted. Having someone tell you that they're going another direction, that they just aren't feeling the relationship, or even the unspoken rejection that can happen in a friendship is just so hard. And it can destroy any self-esteem you had in the blink of an eye.
I've been blessed. I have a great job I landed just out of college, a wonderful hubby who pursued me despite my hesitance, and some amazing friends and family. For a large majority of my youth, I skipped through life without encountering too much rejection (or without realizing that I had). My "worst" rejection had been feeling like a loser because guys never asked me to dances until senior year. But then, my freshman year of college came.
I tried out to serve on the worship team at the church I attended. And they told me I wasn't what they were looking for. And it hurt. I had experienced a lot of success with singing in the past, and I felt rejected and disconnected from my hope at getting involved in ministry. I got over it. Then came the years of singleness in college, being turned down after final interviews for Mizzou '39, and being not quite good enough for people. But you know what? I learned a heck of a lot from it, and it made me a better person. And so many times, I was grateful for it in the end. So today, I'm sharing five things rejection has taught me.
1. It's not all about me.It's not a bad thing for us to be humbled sometimes. When we let our success go to our head and define us, it can become damaging and we can become people we don't even know anymore. Every now and then, even in small moments of rejection, I get a gentle reminder that I need to remove the focus from myself and back to loving others and loving God.
2. Don't give up.
Sometimes the best things in life are things we have to work for. Hard work and determination, along with the ability to try again, often reap huge benefits in our lives (and provide even more satisfaction than simply being given something the first time around). It's no secret that I coached softball this year, which was a ton of fun, but you know what? It was the SEVENTH coaching job that I'd applied for. I'd been turned down six times before (sometimes interviewing more than once for the same position in different years), and honestly had kind of given up as I felt God must be calling me elsewhere. It took a heck of a lot of vulnerability to put myself out there again, make it to the end, and then be turned away. But I never completely closed the door on it, and lo and behold, here came this softball job kind of out of nowhere. And it was a blast! In some situations, we can't give up on things we truly are passionate about (just ask Aaron about how persistent he was in dating me!).
3. Don't take things too personally.
When someone gives you a no, doesn't come through, or makes you feel unwanted, it's easy to get pretty upset. Too often, I've found myself feeling down when people don't seem to want to be with me or when I feel like my efforts at forming a new friendship are one-sided. But you know what? Dwelling on that and placing the blame on myself for something I really can't control or change isn't going to do any good at all. None. So in some situations, rejection has taught me to let go, move on, and channel my energy elsewhere, without taking it too personally.
4. If you always get what you think you want, you'll never know what you could've had.Case in point, I received a rejection letter from a school district the very day that I was hired by my own school district. If I would've been offered that job (at a district I didn't really want), I would have had to decide whether to take a job just have to have one, or take a chance, wait, and not necessarily have a job at all. Thankfully, the timing of it all was perfect, and I got offered a job at my now school the day I interviewed. I also think this has totally applied to me in the relationship world, as I was broken up with multiple times over the years. This hurt, but I would have completely missed out on the gift of Aaron if the breakups and rejection hadn't happened along the way. Sometimes we just don't even know what we want, and what we think we want isn't always what is best! Which leads me to my last point...and the biggest thing rejection is continuously teaching me.
5. God's plan is bigger and better than our own. Always.
Amen to this one, again and again. Just when I think I have life all figured out, God goes and throws me for a loop. I am constantly reminded of how small and insignificant I am, and how big and wonderful He is. And I'm thankful that so many times, God is leading me down a path that involves rejection because He knows how much more He is saving for me. So when I worry about friends, or opportunities, or people saying they don't want me, I can remember that the most important person and creator there ever was (or ever will be) DOES want me. That He chooses me on a daily basis, despite my imperfections and weakness. And if a good, loving God wants me, then the rejections of this world really aren't all that big, especially when He uses them as a way to call me to the things HE has in store for me.
And so, dear friends, I hope that you can relate to and learn from these ideas. I hope that they give you peace and comfort in times of hard rejection. And I hope most of all that you continue to find your worth in the Lord, and in Him alone. He is in control, and I promise that His plans for you are much bigger than you could ever dream. So hold on. You ARE wanted, and worth it, and known.
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