Rejection is no easy subject to write about and to be quite frank, the negative events that sprang to mind when thinking about what to write were enough for me to put my laptop away and pretend I didn’t have a blog. Forgive me if I don’t do this post justice – it has taken me a long time to find the words. Forgive me also if I don’t use the most interesting event to illustrate my personal encounter with rejection– all my juicy rejection stories were just too intense to share on a Friday morning.
My oldest sister once wrote that we live in a society that allows us to bare our midriffs without hesitation but often restricts how we express our pain. Although she wrote this many years ago, the words continue to resonate with me (especially as summer is approaching and all I see right now is bellies, bellies, bellies). It is easier to talk about the mundane occurrences of life than it is to unpack that darkness that exists in each and every one of us. For this reason, we don’t talk about our rejections in day-to-day life. I rarely hear people say that they feel ‘rejected’ because I guess in many ways, it just sounds way too intense and heavy. However, if we take a second to look across our lives, there exists the moments where only the word ‘rejection’ sufficiently encapsulates what happened.
My rejection from the One stung. It broke, challenged, affected me and caused me to question my worth; for a long time I didn’t speak about it. To be honest, I haven’t told anyone spoken about this for the past 4 years.
Maybe I’ve been repressing it; this blog keeps forcing me to tell my life stories sighhhh.
I was in my 2nd year of Sixth Form and university applications were in season. As usual, I wasn’t taking the whole thing very seriously and despite my straight ‘As’ at AS Level I still didn’t quite believe I was smart enough to apply for any of the best universities; I couldn’t face the rejection or the possibility that the Unis could somehow know that my grades were indeed a fluke. So when the head of my Sixth Form began to speak of Oxbridge applications, my mind switched off (as it does quite frequently) because those kinda Unis had nothing to do with me.
My Mother (as usual) had other ideas. She told me that if I applied to Cambridge, she would pay for my driving lessons. It seemed like a good deal – all I had to do was send off an application and in exchange, I would take an intentional step towards my driving dream. My Sixth Form’s deadline for Oxbridge applications was in two days, so after school the next day, my friend and I went to KFC and stayed there until about 8pm and I wrote my personal statement. I had no idea what I wanted to study or why I wanted to go (perhaps because, in hindsight, university wasn’t for me) but I wrote what I thought sounded like a plausible argument and submitted it.
To my surprise I was invited for an interview and somewhere between my application and my interview, during those months filled with hope, prayer and preparation, Cambridge became the One.
Receiving my rejection email was horrible. Despite learning of the rejection while I was next to my then best friend, we didn’t have the sort of friendship where intense emotions were expressed so I read it to her but showed no outward emotion; she didn’t know that I was inwardly breaking down. As soon as I got on that bus, away from her and away from my pride, I cried. Oh, I cried. Shameless, hot, angry tears, which in hindsight, had a greater connection to my beliefs about myself than the rejection itself.
I’m not really sure how I went from being completely indifferent about Cambridge to believing that it was meant for me, but that’s life, isn’t it? One minute it’s just an application/ an encounter with a stranger and before you know it, the application is the gateway to your dream job and that encounter with the stranger becomes the way you met the love of your life. I think that is why rejection is so profound and deadly – there is no way to prepare for it because we don’t know who or what we will attach ourselves to and how that attachment will impact us.
Over the past few months, I have once again encountered the snake that is rejection but I’ve learnt to deal with it differently because of my current beliefs:
1) Where I am is where I am meant to be
On the days where nothing is happening, our minds can sometimes wander back to our defining moments; we think about what we could change in order to make our present moments better reflect where we thought we would be.
I want to put my belief to you:
There is nothing that occurs without God’s permission – the good, the bad and the ugly stuff. This belief usually causes all kinds of uproar because we have some ugly things happening in our world and some even uglier things happening to us; despite this, I still hold this belief.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
The rejections from potential lovers, family members, friends and dream jobs will one day make sense. Maybe not now and may not for a while, but right now, in this very moment, you are where you are meant to be and all things are working together for your good.
2) God isn’t like those other humans
If you’ve been around the block a couple of times you will be aware that is often the people closest to us that end up hurting us the most. Even when we try and teach ourselves to expect the worst from people, rejection from those we love always has the capacity cut us deeply and viciously.
My experience of God has always been different.
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.
I love this scripture because it basically says that even when the people who were created to love, nurture and protect me abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Despite having amazing parents, this verse still holds true for me. There have been times where my parents have done things I never thought they would do but this verse continuously picks me back up and reminds that it doesn’t really matter what they do because the Lord welcomes me with open arms and will touch my wounds with His love.
The fear of rejection often causes us to settle for things we know aren’t right for us instead stepping out in faith and reaching for the things we desperately desire. In those moments of fear we have to remember that God calls us to live boldly and we cannot let the fear of rejection cause us to lesser lives. Being rejected is never going to be easy but in the midst of the pain, regret and anger, always remember that you have someone on your side that will never reject you while you are alive and able to connect with Him. Your CV is good enough. Your personality is just right. Your flaws are beautiful to Him.
All the love I can muster on this day,