Since I can remember, my friend situation has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I remember being in grade school and having a best friend one year and then the next year they were nowhere to be found. For the most part, it had to do with if we were in the same class, but I do remember when it went from innocent to complete rejection by not just one person but everyone I knew and had grown up with.
Someone disliked me and turned everyone against me leaving me to go through a traumatic experience when I was in the early stages of understanding friendship (side note – I am sure I have done my fair share of damage to people and if I have and you are reading this I am truly sorry, and it was never about you but about my insecurity).
After one of the most painful years of school, I unintentionally kept an arm’s length to friends. I would have rather rejected them then to be rejected all over again. This concept led me to having a very lonely life. If you never let anyone in, you are “safe,” but then there is no one to share life with, no one who really knows you, no one who wants to be by your side in the good and the bad.
I vividly remember my high school graduation, we had just graduated and people where hugging their friends to the right and to the left of me and I walked through the crowd of strangers that I had known for years and had not one person to hug. I wasn’t sad, but it was a marker moment for me.
The word rejection is a tough one. Even writing it out stings and I am sure in one way or another we have all felt the pain of it. I think up until a year ago I lived in constant fear of rejection. Maybe not necessarily fear that people I didn’t know would reject me but fear that the people I let get close would reject me.
Rejection by people we don’t know is just an external rejection because it is about who they think they see on the outside but rejection by people who we call a friend, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a family member is the hardest. We perceive that they know who we truly are and are rejecting the core of us. Why does that hurt so bad?
I would argue that deep down we believe that the core of who we are is unlovable. When someone gets close to that core and then says or acts in a way that shows their disgust and rejection then our internal dialogue is, “of course they are rejecting me, they saw me and realized what I have been afraid of all along. I am unlovable, and they found out.”
I had a time in life where I encountered such pain associated with that inner dialogue that I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it in more ways than one. However, the most ironic part of that year for my life is that as I continued to deal with the pain God continued to throw people on the path that I was walking.
I was in a season feeling completely rejected and yet part of my healing process was developing deep friendships. That just made me laugh out loud! Wouldn’t you think that God would have allowed me to be isolated so that He could heal that broken heart of mine and then when my heart was healed, and I was ready to trust people again then I would develop friendships.
God is good, and He is so kind. He knew what I needed and how I needed it. He knew that I needed people who would allow me to sob on their couches and that, in such a broken place I would have no fear of rejection, so I would allow people to know deep places in me. I have never known a time in my life where I have had a handful of people who know me, who bring out the best in me, who are there to support me but not be my everything until now. Through the burnt places of my heart beauty has grown.
I am not saying this to you all so that you are prepared to be rejected so that you can develop beautiful healthy friendships, nope not at all. What I do want to inspire you with is that we need to drop that fear of rejection (I know easier said than done).
When rejection comes back into my life, I have learned the lesson that the necessity of relationship is worth the cost of pain. That might be one of the craziest things to read but I am aware that I cannot control people, their thoughts and how they view me; but I have seen the bounty of friendship and would rather live in freedom, with the people that God has placed in my life, then in bondage of fear and living isolated.
For my 30th, I wanted my house to be filled with woman that I know, woman that I love, woman that I support and support me. And so, I asked all of these women to join me in celebrating the next decade of my life. As the day came and I was sitting listening to my AMAZING friend lead us in worship, I looked around at all the faces that were present, and I was overwhelmed. I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams being so free and welcomed in a group of women.
Not everyone in that room knew the deepest parts of my heart, but everyone in that room knew me and loved me in their own way. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for the church. There is something so mighty about the gift God has given us in the church concerning the group of people we have an opportunity to do life with. At any moment I can look to the right and to the left of me and see multitudes of woman smiling and worshiping Jesus. I know I can stay standing because God has positioned us together.
I want to say thank you to all of those in my life. You all mean so much to me. And I want to encourage you that if you are not in a church, man you are missing out on the blessing of relationship that God wants to pour into your life. Let go of the fear of rejection and run full on for Him, He will surround you with Himself and His people.