I hate rejection. I think one of the worst feelings in the world is rejection. Feeling like I don’t truly belong. Intentionally left out. And admittedly so, it happens to me with anyone. At anytime. With people I know. With people I don’t know. With people I barely know. With people I really, really know. With cats. Okay, maybe not cats. Unless it’s one of those snobby cats who walks around like they’re better than everyone else. Stupid cats.
One night a few years ago I remember feeling rejected so specifically. The reason I remember it so well is because it was a tear-inducing, blubbering-snotfaced, needing-someone-to-pray-for-me, kind of rejection. I’ve struggled with rejection throughout most of my life, but this night in particular was one for the books, (or blog). I felt so much sadness and aching in my heart I could feel it burning inside of my chest. The pain was raw and it truly crushed me. I was with people who I really, really know—and rejection from that group hits on another level.
It was a regular day, but I began noticing a few things with someone that just seemed off to me. It just seemed like they didn’t want to be around me. When I walked into a room, they would stand up and walk out a few minutes later. Any conversation or interaction I would try to initiate was over before it got started. It really got to me! Did I do something wrong? Did I say something offensive? I didn’t know what was goin on?!
Have you ever been in a situation where something happens that makes you go to that place in your head? The place where you begin analyzing everything? Why did they do that? (Stew for 20 minutes.) Why did they say that? (Stew another 20.) Why did they act like that? (It’s all you’re thinking about). You get the idea. You question everything. So from that point forward you start watching everything they do or everything they say. And sure enough, everything confirms your newly discovered theory—rejection. It’s was sooo obvious I was being rejected that night. Nothing else made sense as to why this person was acting like they were. So it became my truth.
That’s the headspace I found myself in that night. The rejection seed had been planted and I was definitely watering it. With thought after thought. An absolute fact without question, like I said my truth. It’s a dangerous place to dwell in because at the core of it, it becomes a personal attack on who I am. I begin to question myself. I did something wrong. I said something wrong. It only confirmed my belief I’ve got buried deep down that nobody likes me. I was familiar with drawing this conclusion.
I tried to go to bed early that night, but my mind wouldn’t let me. It was in overdrive, my thoughts were firing at me a mile a minute. Imagine a tennis ball machine goes haywire and tennis balls start pelting you, over and over, in the same spot. The tennis balls represent the most vile and negative thoughts about how awful I am, and how no one can stand to be around me. It’s set to the highest speed possible, so each time one lands, it hurts. A lot. Yet, another one lands in the same exact spot and the pain just continues to intensify. It’s crazy how much damage can be done in such a short period of time. My attempt at going to sleep early turned into an emotional whirlwind in no less than ten minutes.
After my initial reaction to everything I was feeling, the only thing I could think to do was to pray. (Why is this sometimes the last thing I do??) I remember crying out to God in such desperation, my eyes full of tears, and in that moment He spoke three words to my heart that shifted my perspective:
“You don’t belong.”
Initially, I was taken aback for a second because I didn’t realize what He meant, but the scales lifted off my eyes. I realized, oh my gosh, He was absolutely right. (Like He’s never not.) I didn’t belong. I wasn’t meant to. It was one of the most painful rejections I had felt and it was kind of all for nothing? Could the rejection I thought I experienced all been in my head? I’m not sure. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. Rejection was such a deep root for me that a lot of times I felt rejection whether it was truly there or not. The point is that I wanted so badly to fit in with people who I don’t need to fit in with. My fear of rejection was so signifcant, it didn’t even matter who’s acceptance I was seeking. I just wanted to belong.
His words were so comforting for me in that moment. When I think about them, it takes me right back to that moment and reminds me of what’s important. They were exactly the words I needed to hear. They felt like a big, warm blanket of overwhelming love. They also felt like a very loving slap on the wrist. I needed both.
It was the equivalent of a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Anytime something is forced somewhere it’s not supposed to, eventually it’s loses it’s original design, and experiences damage along the way. I mean that analogy exactly describes what I was trying to do. Not to mention, just pretending to be something I’m not is just plain exhausting. God was probably up there like, “Kylene what are you freaking out about? You want to be accepted by someone who doesn’t even accept me!” I had forgotten who my Father was, and everything that comes with that identity. I so desperately wanted to gain my identity with the acceptance of man. I lost sight of the fact that any feelings of true acceptance will only ever come from God.
I love how Romans 12:2 in the Amplified describes it:
“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”
I’m not saying it’s okay to have the “All I need is God” mentality. And I’m not saying we don’t belong with community. Because we do! We can’t do life alone. It took me a very long time to believe that. I spent a lot of years struggling with loneliness because of my fear that eventually someone would reject me—and I guarded myself as such. What I’m saying is don’t see yourself become the old cat lady. (I didn’t intend for yet another cat reference, but here we are.) We should surround ourselves with people that can encourage us, speak life over us, want good things for us, pray with us, and laugh with!
It may sound hard to believe, but I’m glad I felt the rejection I did that night. Sometimes the pain we experience is well worth the wisdom that we gain. Even though it happened years ago, those three words have changed the way I process my thoughts and challenged what I truly believe ever since. I’ve found myself in situations where those words have protected me from going down a rejection rabbit hole, and it’s real slippery around there. They’ve been a reminder of who’s approval is the most important to me. Will I feel rejected again in the future? Probably. However, rejection doesn’t have to be a laser-focused thought I engage with that takes over my mind. I can take those thoughts captive way sooner than I used to.
“For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5, AMP).
I understand what it’s like to believe something bad about yourself for so long it affects the way you live and see life. If your light at the end of the tunnel has been fading out, please don’t lose hope. If you find yourself in a place of hopeless desperation, bring it all to God. He can handle anything you say, and He also wants to hear it. It was in these kind of moments of honest conversation with God that I’ve felt Him comfort me the most. He can turn your circumstance around. You aren’t alone in your struggle. No matter what it is, God will walk through it with you. He wants to lead you to the other side.
I think sometimes all God wants us to do is to bring Him all of our broken pieces. To take off our brave faces for a second and stop pretending everything is okay. In our weakness, that’s where He’s strong. “[My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” (2 Cor. 10:9, AMP). When we come to Him in a perfect place of surrender and vulnerability, He reaches down, gathers all of our broken pieces, reshapes us and stands us back up. He speaks life-giving words over us that remind us how much he loves us. Or He may just tell you, “You don’t belong.” Which for me, was equally as good.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Kylene Lautensack, colorfullbloom.com.