What Makes Rejection So Awful

My mouth was dry. My hands a bit numb. There was a stabbing tightness in my chest. My mind blurred as my thoughts became a fragmented kaleidoscope of a million pictured hopes I thought were just around the corner for me. For us. For the us that was now becoming just me again.

We were only dating. But my mind had already run ahead in time and built a life with this man. In the future we had romantic picnics to take, snowball fights to laugh through, a wedding to plan, a house to build, and kids to name who had his smile and my eyes.

I’m not sure these were ever real to him. But to me, they were as real as the stone-cold coffee now sitting in front of me. The one I kept stirring to have something to focus on but that I never intended to drink. Drinking coffee seemed a bit too normal of an activity to participate in when my entire inner life had just been declared a state of emergency. Because all of a sudden, the rest of my planned-out life was aflame. I wasn’t just losing a boyfriend today. I was losing the connection to all those dreams for tomorrow that now would never be.

His words were making their way through my ears to my heart. I felt the full impact of their harsh landing. As they skidded their way across the most tender places inside me, their piercing weight burned and cut and ripped apart what I thought would be so very permanent. Rejection always leaves the deepest, darkest marks.

That was decades ago. But I can pull up the memory of it as if it were yesterday. I have to search around a bit in my past, but there it is. The wound isn’t pulsing with pain any longer. It’s more of a scar. Like a war wound, it’s just a story now.

I pulled out my journal today and tried to capture the raw essence of what makes rejection so awful. But in the end I couldn’t capture the depth of it with finely crafted words. Instead of diving deep with my thoughts, I let them come in simple, personal phrases.

I like stability.
I don’t like getting caught off guard.
I like feeling known.
I don’t like feeling thrown away.

As I kept making this list, one line finally emerged that seemed to sum up rejection better than the others: I don’t want my normal to be snatched away. Life feels impossibly risky when I’m reminded how unpredictable circumstances can shatter and forever change what I know and love about my life. And in the fallout, some pieces never find a way to fall back into place.

It’s like taking a photograph containing all the people you love and suddenly some of those people purposely cut themselves out of the picture. And the gaping hole left behind is in some ways worse than death. If their absence was caused by death, you would grieve their loss. But when their absence is caused by rejection, you not only grieve their loss but you also have to wrestle through the fact that they wanted this. They chose to cut themselves out.

Though you are devastated, they are possibly walking away feeling relieved. Or worse, they might even feel happy. And there you sit, staring at a jacked-up photograph that no glue in the world can fix. Normal has been taken. Not by accident. But very much on purpose by someone you never expected could be such a thief.

Rejection steals the security of all we thought was beautiful and stable and leaves us scared and fragile and more vulnerable than ever.

But God. He’s there. Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness,” (John 12:46). With Jesus I can walk out of this dark place.

Yes, He is the One whom I know can help me. Heal me. Show me what to do when I’m hurting. Therefore, I must do whatever He instructs me to do right now. I must embrace Him. And I know I can’t continue to fully embrace God while rejecting His ways.

So I turn to Him. And really listen to where He’s leading me with a willing heart.

God drops a word into my heart. Like a swig of orange juice just after brushing my teeth, I recoil at the unexpected taste. Of grace.

Why grace?! Because grace given when it feels least deserved is the only antidote for bitterness. Just because I’ve been hurt doesn’t mean I now have to live hurt. I can get mad and bitter and spread more hurt around. Or, I can give grace and gentle responses and spread more hope around.

Hurt people, hurt people.
Healed people, heal people.
And I want to be in that latter group.

There’s nothing we can do to eliminate the pain of rejection. Oh, how I wish there were. With every fiber of my being, I wish I could remove it from my world and from yours. But I can’t. The only thing I’ve seen work in my life to help my heart heal from these deep wounds is the constant pursuit of the sweetest grace.

To love God is to cooperate with His grace. And since I’m so very aware of my own need for grace, I must be willing to freely give it away. Each hole left from rejection must become an opportunity to create more and more space for grace in my heart.

If this blog post resonated with you today I’d love to share more powerful encouragement in my new book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. It doesn’t release until August 9th but if you pre-order your copy you’ll received free resources including the first 5 chapters of the book today! Click here to get your copy.


Seeing Beauty Instead of Pain

My aunt grew roses for years. She’s the one I lived with for almost a year when I was in middle school and my family was falling apart. I remember her telling me not to run through her rose garden. After all, she had what seemed like hundreds of other acres that unfolded in wide open fields. I could run there.

But I didn’t want to.

I only wanted to run through the rose garden. I wanted to spread my arms wide open and run between the rows brushing my fingertips across all the velvety blooms. I wanted some of the blooms to burst and shower petals all around. Then I could gather the petals and spread them along my path.

As if I could carve a new place in this world lined with beauty and void of adult words like divorce, rejection and hate … I wanted my world to be soft, pink and lovely. I didn’t want to think about my dad leaving our family. My heart couldn’t process how he not only didn’t live with us anymore, but he was also slowly pulling back from participating in our lives all together.

So, I took a running start with my arms outstretched only to be shocked with searing pain within the first few steps.

Thorns. Big, mean, vicious thorns. Thorns that ripped my flesh and opened up the flood of tears I’d been so determined to hold back. Suddenly, I hated that bush. I wanted to chop it down and beat it into the ground. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to destroy something that produced such beauty.

I stood back from the source of my pain and wondered, Should I call it a bush of thorns or a bush of flowers? Really, it could go either way.

Suddenly I wasn’t just staring at a bush. I was staring at my life. My life. Such a bed of roses.
Would I see the hurt or would I see the beauty?

Luke 8:14 says, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” The seed being referred to here is the Word of God. Isn’t it interesting that people who are choked by life’s circumstances and never mature are referred to as having thorns in the soil of their soul?

Yes, life sometimes hands us thorns but we have the choice to park our mind on the thorn or on the beauty it can eventually produce in us, if only we’ll cling tightly to God’s Word. How a person thinks is how they will eventually become.

If we dwell on the negative in life, we’ll become negative and God’s Word will have a hard time taking root in our souls. If, however, we acknowledge the negative but choose instead to look for the good that can come from it, God’s Word will take root in our souls and produce a lush crop of beauty.

It all comes down to choice. That day in my aunt’s garden, I chose to be aware of the thorns but park my mind on the beautiful roses.

And over the years, I have come to the place in my life where I realize I can focus on the hurt my dad’s absence caused or choose to focus on other things in my life. Beautiful things.

It’s been more than 25 years since I’ve seen my dad. That’s hard on a girl’s heart. But where he fell so short, God has filled in many gaps. I don’t have to be the child of a broken parent the rest of my life, I can be a child of God. Loved. Truly loved.

And that is a beautiful truth I can let flourish in my heart.

Are rejections from your past stealing from the joy in your life today? I understand. That’s why I wrote my new book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. My deepest desire is to help you discover the soul-steadying truth that no person’s rejection can ever exempt you from God’s love for you. If you pre-order your copy today, you’ll receive free resources that won’t be available once the book releases on August 9th. Pre-order by clicking here.

And if you’re not quite sure if Uninvited is for you, take the assessment by clicking here.


You’re Invited!

I wish I was at your door right now with your favorite coffee drink and a lovely, embossed invitation that looks like it came straight off of Pinterest.

But since my crafting skills could use a little work, consider today’s blog a special invite just for you…

On August 9th I’m releasing my new book, Uninvited, and I wondered if you might want to come to Charlotte and join me for a free, live webcast and release party?

We’ll worship together, I’ll share a new message, and we’ll have a fun party after the webcast. I just know we’ll have the best time. Here are the details:

Who: You, me, the Proverbs 31 Ministries team and anyone you’d like to invite!
What: The Uninvited Release Day Party and Live Webcast
When: August 9th
Where: 11701 Elevation Point Drive, Charlotte NC

Click here to reserve your spot for this free event. We will send you an email with more details about the release day activities and fun things you and your friends can do while here in Charlotte.

And if you can’t quite make it to Charlotte on August 9th, no worries. You can still tune into the webcast online and invite your friends to watch with you!

Click here to put your name on the reminder list and we’ll keep you in the loop about how to watch the free webcast.

So whether I see you in person or through a computer screen, please know I am thankful for you. Your prayers, love, and support mean the world to me.