It’s one of our biggest fears, isn’t it? It closes our mouths shut from saying things we feel are right. It makes us question ourselves. Pushes us to change ourselves, mold ourselves into what others think we should be. Suppresses what we could be and causes us to worship others and their approval.
It’s always been a driving force for me. The fear of rejection has been a brick in the wall built of things I’ve placed around myself in order to be safe, to be liked, to be normal. When the concept of living a less edited life and a more honest one dug its way into my heart, I understood that part of that wall I’d worked so hard to build would inevitably come crumbling down around me. I knew letting more people in would increase the risk of getting poked and prodded in some of the rawest areas of my soul, I knew rejection would probably be something I’d have to become used to. That was scary.
The truth is, when we make ourselves vulnerable, we quickly learn who our real friends are.
I’ve lived through some real hell-on-earth scenarios over the past few years - none of which I asked for. If it had been up to me, I would have spent my time making a home, growing a family and building a life. I would have marinated in being a twenty-something and spent money on a fancy pair of shoes or a new car. I would have continued masking myself so all of my people wouldn’t go running for the hills. I would have worked on establishing killer abs in the gym, all while faithfully baking my husband and all of his friends the tastiest of treats in my pinterest-perfect kitchen. I would probably be a lot happier. And I wouldn’t be nearly as whole.
Here’s what happened instead.
We got hitched, chilled on the beach for a week in St.Lucia and then life got really hard, really fast, really unexpectedly. We didn’t just get rained on, we’re pretty sure we got hit by a freaking. huge. hurricane. Death, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, miscarriage, ER visits, medical tests, prescription drug addiction, rapid weight gain, endless health issues, financial stress, moving, job changes, marriage counseling. The list goes on. And in the midst of all of this, we couldn’t begin to help our families relate to what was happening in our lives, our relationships were effected and loneliness became a very real reality for us.
The point isn’t how we got there, or why God allowed all of those things in our lives. Not for this article, anyway. Instead, I tell you all of this because I’ve learned a whole heap of things over these last years, things I never would have learned if that mask had stayed on. Things that have changed my life and heart in ways that abs and Gucci never could.
1.) Life will get hard, and friends will leave.
But here’s the deal, guys. They weren’t really your friends to begin with. Friends sharpen one another, forgive one another, encourage one another, support one another and walk through fire for and with each other. They press in when things get rough, they love you past your junk.
Rejection hurts, but it’s not the end of the road. It’s merely a stepping stone to more fruitful, meaningful and joy-filled relationships. Believe that, ask the Lord to heal your heart and keep on moving.
2.) God’s goal is not to make us happy.
I actually used to believe that. Before I experienced true hopelessness, I was functioning from a me-centered, false theology that God was my own, personal vending machine. Put in two “quiet times” and a hardy “amen!” and out comes that feeling I wanted, that thing I’d been hoping for and that life I’d been dreaming of! Right? Wrong. Thankfully, God loves us so much more than that. He loves us enough to allow hardship to make us more like Him. He loves us so much that He counts us worthy to endure suffering for His name's sake. Does He take pleasure in seeing His beloved suffer? No, I don’t think so. But I do think He takes joy in molding us, in watching us become a reflection of Himself. And guess what? He never leaves. No matter how many times you screw up, fall down or drift away. He is the most consistent thing that will ever exist, and you can count on Him always.
3.) You are not a victim or a villain
Hear me on this one, okay? ”For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 // It’s really easy, when trouble arrives and friends leave to play either the victim, or the villain. You may feel angry because ALL OF THE THINGS seem to be happening and the people you once thought you could count on have proven they can’t be. Or you may feel like you have somehow destroyed these relationships, that your circumstances pushed you to toxic behavior and you pushed them away because of your own insufficiency. This is why knowing and believing scripture is crucial in the midst of your good and bad days. We have ONE enemy and he seeks only to kill, steal and destroy. He would love for you to believe the lies that he has for you. Don’t believe them.
Hard things happen. That’s life. But I’ve found that in the midst of all of our trials, experiencing rejection and losing friends has been one of the most difficult. My prayer is that wherever you are right now, whether you’re the one in the storm or you’re the friend watching it hit — that you would remember whose you are, who you are against and what you are called to do as Kingdom seekers.