Updated: May 23, 2022
Rejection Vol. 1 Issue 21
You know it.
Don't bother denying it. I know you recognize it physically and mentally. As soon as you saw that word you felt it. That all-too-real sinking feeling from your throat and into your chest. The emptiness of your fully deflated lungs. Every exhale makes the stone that is your stomach suddenly become denser.
The utter denial of expression.
I could go on, but that’s not my purpose here. I’m a helper, right? Helpers mediate. They don’t instigate.
Let’s revisit my definition of rejection. Rejection is “to be quickly and impulsively dismissed, cancelled, blocked, and/or removed by an individual or group that matters.” (www.purelypastiche.com). To back up this definition, I’ll share the story behind it.
My freshman year in high school was spirit-crushing. The eighth grader who laughed wildly in the halls was now a timid, nervous freshman that craved invisibility. Nothing could have prepared me for the events that occurred.
The New Boy & The Incident of The Blue Dress
It was picture day. I wore a blue dress with gladiator sandals, mascara, pink lipstick, and a necklace that framed my collarbones. Picture day was the only school day I allowed my mom to dress me up like an American Girl doll. Thanks to my oblivion, that stupid blue dress would be the object-in-motion that would set the course for the next four years of my life.
My eyes never left my feet. I held tightly to the sides of my dress as I waited my turn. The sound of the camera clicking and students mingling filled my ears. I stared at the linoleum gym floor and reapplied some lipstick. Now that I look back on this day, I must have been radiating anxiety and fear like sunbeams. Someone tried to calm it, but only made it worse.
That was the new boy in our grade. A.k.a. “the freshman-heart-throb.”
“AK,” he said. My chin jolted upward so that I was making eye contact with him. I didn’t even remember his name. How did he know mine? His following words were what marked the turn of the tides: “that dress is so beautiful on you.”
Yah, it seems nice. It was nice of him to say. His words were sincere. He couldn’t have possibly known that 6 words would give me the most embarrassing, hurtful, vivid memory of rejection.
It wasn’t what he said. It was the aftermath.
*Two Hours Later*
I scanned the dining hall for a seat amongst the girls. There was one empty seat. I made a dash for it so I wouldn’t have to sit alone at a nearby table. One of the girls saw me walking over and smiled. A wave of relief ran from the crown of my head down to my toes.
“AK,” the girl cooed, “that dress is sooooo beee-YOU-teee-ful on you!” The table cackled. One of her friends quickly lifted their backpack from the floor and onto the empty chair. My lungs stopped working and air was suddenly impossible to inhale. My heart sunk deep into my stomach as I sulked away in embarrassment.
Step 1: Identification.
The rejection here is pretty easy to identify. It wasn’t the boy. The rejection was actuated by him, but it was executed by the girls. My mom, coaches, and friends told me I should focus on the compliment and not the girls. I tried. I really did. But being ostracized by my own sex proved to be more than I could endure.
Usually when someone my age says the word “rejection”, I think of an interaction between two people: one who wants something deeper than a friendship, and one who does not. I’d even go as far to say that I used to think that was the only form of rejection. The incident of the blue dress proved to me that rejection isn’t limited to unrequited romance.
Maybe you can relate. The rejection was not familial or romantic; it was fraternal.
And that’s what made it hurt the most.
The rejection wasn't familial or romantic; it was fraternal. And that's what made it hurt the most.
Step 2: Coping with the rejection.
There’s some things that high-speed wifi, 3G LTE, backup generators, creepy robot vacuums, and even Alexa *gasp* cannot do for us. All of these things feed our inner sophomaniac.
For YEARS, I blamed the boy for everything bad that happened to me after picture day. Every stubbed toe, bad hair day, eyebrow zit, failure, and predicament I put on him. It’s easy to be bitter. It’s even easier to blame someone else. For 4 years, I did both.
Honesty is cardinal to the healing process. Avoidance, blame, bitterness, and resentment only delay the healing process. I avoided, blamed, resented, and wallowed in bitterness for 4 years. So trust me when I say that these feelings and behaviors will not heal the hardening effects of rejection. After all, “each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10 NIV).
Honesty is hard. Patience is harder. In a society where we want things done quickly, waiting out the pain seems like a last-resort. In all personal truth, I tell you it is not. It should be a first-resort. Being honest about what hurts heals the most abused of hearts.
3. Renouncing Insecurity.
The only thing that gives me solace in the storm of insecurity is truth. The situation of the blue dress made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I’m going to pause here to emphasize something: isn’t it CRAZY that I gave a dyed piece of fabric the power to sicken my mind, eat my confidence, and feed me anxiety? It is. It’s beyond ridiculous, but it happens all the time. The question is, how do we take back what the blue dress took? I have yet to find an answer. In the meantime, these Bible verses have given back to me what the girls, the dress, and the new boy had me relinquish:
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven- as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” - Luke 7:47 NIV
“I have given you the authority to trample snakes and scorpions and to destroy the enemy’s power. Nothing will hurt you.” - Luke 10:19 GW
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” - 1 Timothy 4:4-5 NIV
“Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light… He will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies. The Lord will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness.” - Micah 7:8-9 NLT
Now THAT is how you renounce insecurity and assert your identity. You are a child of the Most High. Though He permits turmoil, His hands will heal (Job 5:8). There is nothing that will ever change His love for you. Though girls taunt, there’s a God who uplifts. It might not seem comforting right now, but the more you say these verses (these affirmations) in the mirror, the less brokenness you will feel. I promise this. I promised to deliver 3 things in this series. This isn’t the end- it’s just the beginning. More will be delivered, as much as you need to reconcile with rejection.
Let the healing begin,