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Swallowing Rejection

Rejection. An unwelcome part of life on planet earth. I haven’t met a person yet who isn’t affected by the rejection they face. Wounds run deep from some rejections, others maybe just a surface scratch. Either way, we’re all marred by rejection. Some of our most vivid memories come from those we received as children. Memories of being the only one not chosen for the team; left out of a birthday party; ignored or snubbed by a friend, or worse still by the one who’s supposed to help build your impressionable spirit – a parent.

As a parent, I’m deeply aware of the rejections my children face and will face. I can still remember the ache in my heart the first time my oldest came to me, “Mom, he hit me.” Silence. “I thought he was my friend.” I knew this was a momentary clash and their friendship would sustain the hurt. It has. They’re still friends. Nevertheless, the sting was still real.

One way or another, rejections follow us into adulthood where we face even more each day – on the job; from a spouse; or waiting in line at the store with other busy people rushing through their day. It happens to everyone. It happens to you. It happens to me.

In one of the books I’m reading for Lent I was surprised to read in the very first entry the author talking about this very thing – rejection. Henri Nouwen is refreshingly honest about the impact of the rejections he faces each day and his desire to not let them define him. I don’t know why I found his words so moving. Perhaps it’s his willingness to open his life up to scrutiny in hopes that someone will see themself and commit alongside him to let go of these rejections, making way for a divine healing of sorts.

Nouwen writes, “I have slowly become aware of what my Lenten practice might be. It might be the development of some type of ‘holy indifference’ toward the many small rejections I am subject to, and a growing attachment to the Lord and his passion. I am constantly surprised at how hard it is for me to deal with the little rejections people inflict on each other day by day…This atmosphere often leaves me with a feeling of being rejected and left alone. When I swallow these rejections, I get quickly depressed and lonely; then I am in danger of becoming resentful…But maybe all of this is the other side of a deep mystery, the mystery that we have no lasting place on this earth and that only God loves us the way we desire to be loved.” (Lent and Easter – Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen)

If you’re facing rejection today, rather than swallowing it, why not give it up to the only one who is big enough to swallow it without resentment – Jesus. Even though he experienced the ultimate rejection, he never rejects us. Only he can take it upon himself and all while loving each of us perfectly, as we were created to be loved.

“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him.”
1 Peter 2:4

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