A couple of weeks ago, a friend commented that I must have a pretty tough exterior – after all, I keep bouncing back from rejection.
I looked at her and cocked my head to the side, mostly because I didn’t know how to interpret her comment: So, you think I’m strong. Resilient. In-de-fatigable (as I learned and then taught again in 11th grade English). But you also point out the fact that rejection is a regular part of my vocabulary and I’m not sure whether or not that’s intended as a compliment.
But to the fact that I experience rejection on a regular basis, she wasn’t wrong.
Somehow, someway, there’s something in me that keeps asking, even if I think (and eventually am granted) a kindly “thanks but no thanks” response. Why, just in the last month, I received said kindly noes from…
*a local bookstore
*an online magazine
*a print publication
*a speaking agent
*a grant application
Sometimes these noes are short, sweet and to the point – like one would hear on American Idol when “you’re just not what America is looking for,” (a rejection I heard in person when I auditioned for the show nearly 15 years ago, true story). Sometimes these noes are more elaborate, after all, “we’re just not that kind of church.” Cough, cough.
Sometimes these noes make you shake your head with frustration: when someone tells you that you just don’t have a big enough number of followers and instead encourages you “just” to become friends with Jen Hatmaker or Sarah Bessey, all you can do is shake your head in response.
But sometimes these noes are silent, the reverberating echo of not hearing anything at all is the only sound that fills my ears.
Always, at least in the moment, these rejections hurt. Tears spring to my eyes – after all, I’m supposed to stop the hustle, I’m supposed to learn how to wait for others to pursue me, I’m supposed to not have to chase after all the ideas and all the events and all the conversations when the book finally hits newsstands.
But that hasn’t necessarily been the case for me, at least not as a writer, at least not yet. And I’m guessing it might not be the case for you either.
I wish I had the perfect set of pithy Christian aphorisms to pair with each rejection, but I don’t. Instead, I just have some thoughts – thoughts with which you might agree, thoughts with which you might disagree.
- We are not alone in our pain. Pain is real. Pain is okay to feel (even if, as a Seven on the Enneagram, I want to run far from said pain, as I write about in my book). But it’s okay to feel the sting of rejection, just as it’s okay to be reminded that God is there with us in the mess of the storm.
- Our value is not determined by the yeses or the noes we receive. Nope. That’s not who we are, not in the least. I can’t help but think of the Wemmicks, a children’s story that reminds the reader that our worth as human beings is not determined by the stars or dots we receive (let alone by the number of rejections we get on a regular basis).
- It’s okay that this is just part of the deal. Do note that I didn’t say that “God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle.” Because if you’re called to whatever-it-is-that-you’re-called-to-and-keep-getting-rejected-by, maybe that’s just part of the deal. And maybe this part of the deal is just okay.
Maybe you dream of finding a partner, that future husband or wife who’s going to complete you in a Jerry Maguire sort of way. Well, I’m not going to tell you that the perfect person is out there, but I do think there’s something to be said of putting yourself out there, so you can learn what you like and dislike in a future mate.
And maybe you’re the New Kid on the Block, and you’re still searching for your people. You just want a friend. You just want to be pursued. You’re tired of small talk. Well, enter in. Keep going. I see you, for you are not alone.
So, there you go.
Rejection? You and me, we got this. Picking ourselves up off the ground when we feel like we can’t be beat down again? We got this, we got this, we got this.
In this with you,
Care to share of your rejections? Rejection is a real thing – I don’t mean to make light of the situation, after all, rejection hurts and stings. But you know what? We humans are in this thing together, with a God that’s big enough to hold our biggest pains.
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