“I’m sorry. I just see you as more of a friend.”
Words you are never thrilled to hear, right? But at least there were words. Don’t get me started on the disappearing acts I’ve dealt with. I can’t even.
These two things describe my last two relationships. Well, one I call a “situation” because, let’s be honest, it never made it past the point of undefined confusion.
In those moments of hearing those words, or being completely ghosted, I experienced a range of emotions. I was pissed, shocked, and confused. Now, I know that I am not Beyoncé and Oprah rolled into one package, but I am pretty darn awesome! I should explain that this confidence comes after years of thinking I was not worth much at all, so walking in the newfound freedom of “Jesus said I’m awesome, so I’m going to start choosing to believe that it’s true” was a necessary shift for me. So, to be told that I wasn’t enough was an interruption to the “I’m every woman” flow I had going on. And, honestly, it stung more than a little bit.
So, why in the world would I love being rejected? Sounds crazy, I know. It is. But, I still think it’s an undercover gem.
I’ll start with where this all began: an encounter with an ex.
And by encounter, I mean being caught off guard by seeing him at church, then having an inner dialogue with Jesus that went something like this:
“Wow, he’s for real going to church now? Dang, that’s awesome, because that man for sure needs to be up in somebody’s church regularly (totally doesn’t sound judgmental at all). Wait, what is he doing up in my church?! And who is that more-than-a-friend female standing next to him? Seriously, Jesus, of all the people that go to this church, I have to run into him, which is now them. Ugh. So distracting!”
But, the more I stared at them, my disgust began to turn into relief. I was actually grateful that he dumped me.
Of course, I did not have this epiphany during the moment he said “peace out,” but something was different about my response this time. I was able to more clearly see that I was a better version of myself when I was separate from him.
I went from being super annoyed, frustrated, and sad to actually thanking this man (only in my head, of course) for giving me the boot.
It took a complete mind overhaul to get me there, and it was not something I could do on my own.
Here’s where things started to shift.
Though I might have been told a version of the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” line, it was obvious that neither one of us believed that. All the sugar-coated words before and after that phrase suggested otherwise. But instead of letting the “what is wrong with me” question bounce back and forth in my head like a ping-pong ball, I stopped.
Lord knows I’m not getting the tiara for being Ms. Perfect USA over here, but picking myself apart to try to find the broken pieces that, in his eyes, broke the relationship, did not seem like a good way to pass time. Instead, I started to consider these questions: “I wonder what God must have saved me from?” “I wonder what it is about me that is worth protecting?”
I told you, total mind shift.
You see, when we are rejected, we have two choices: to sit in the pain, pity, and embarrassment, or realize those moments might actually be opportunities. Opportunities to bounce back and believe that maybe you were being protected from something you couldn’t recognize as a mess in the moment. Maybe the rejection was a catalyst to get you moving in a different direction, at a pace that you would not have chosen on your own.
So, what would happen if we chose to view rejection as redirection to something better? Yes, you read that right: something, not just someone, better. Listen, I want to be married to a fine, kind, Jesus-loving, job-having man just like most women. But, I have come to realize that if a husband is not part of my story (well, yes, that would suck), I would choose singleness over being married to a man who wasn’t fully committed any day! Why would I want someone to choose me today if I knew he was not ready, willing, or equipped to choose me daily for the rest of our lives? Let’s get this over with! If I’m too blind to see this in the moment, then thank God you can. Reject me now!
I can see how this might sound a bit idealistic. Rejection can be very painful. I don’t flippantly gloss over that hurt. But in my life, I have come to realize that the pain caused by rejection would only be unbearable if a relationship was where I placed all of my hope. I absolutely feel the heaviness of loneliness if I only associate intimacy and relationship with marriage. If completion of life goals requires a husband, 2.5 kids, and a multicolored picket fence (I’m not really into white picket fences), then the fear of eggs drying up would for sure send me into a tailspin. Here’s where that mindshift comes in again.
Shifting my focus changed my perspective.
I chose to stop letting the aftermath of rejection leave me stuck in a place where I fixated on the hopes of a future with the hims of my past. I started to see myself differently—not as the woman who had been left, but as the woman who still had a lot of her life left to live.
I was literally transformed when I decided to change the way I thought about this. The Bible tells us to set our minds on things above, not on what is here below. What does this mean? For me, it means not allowing the pain of what has happened to me to eclipse what happened for me on the cross. Jesus was way more rejected than I will ever be when he chose to die for tons of people who would never choose him back.
But He didn’t stop at rejection. He followed that up with resurrection, and that is my model. To not stop at the pain but to see it as an opportunity for new confidence, new clarity, and new life to emerge.
God means it when he says we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we allow Him into those wounded spaces, he can begin the work of showering us with the truth. The truth is that you are not unwanted. The truth is that you belonged and were chosen long before you even had a name.
I honestly believe that God can use rejection as an opportunity to show you who you really are. Maybe you can use this time to fully understand that you are worthy today. Not 20 pounds lighter or 10 years younger, but right now. That’s resurrected thinking right there!
Maybe it’s a reset of your priorities because whoever you were dating got every last bit of your attention, and you forgot that you were a whole person all by yourself. A whole person with whole dreams, goals, gifts, and talents that went shelved because you were blinded by the counterfeit catch that was in front of you.
My encouragement to you is this: God can use anything. That rejection may have very well been a form of protection or redirection.
In my life, God has used rejection as a way to more purposefully reposition me.
I know for sure that there are people I would have never met, experiences that I would have never had, and a closeness in my relationship with God that I would have never felt had I not been separated from the people, places, and things through those times of rejection.
So, here’s a challenge: Take a look back at some of your past rejections. For you, maybe it’s not the love interest who said “not anymore,” but it’s the employer who said “not yet,” or it’s the college that said “no.” Whoever gave you the cold shoulder, think about them and consider this question: Is your life worse because of that rejection? If it is, my bad for making you relive those things. But my guess is that, in some cases, your life might actually be better.
I hate the act of silver lining. Trying to make bad experiences sound like they were all worth it in the end is not very comforting when you are hurting. Nobody wants to go through pain, even if there might be something redeemable on the other side of it. The truth is, sometimes you get rejected and there’s no comeback kid moment at the end of it. It just sucks. Even then, we still get to choose how we will respond to that pain.
As for me, my response now is gratefulness. I can honestly say I thank God for the rejection. The new life I have after it is so worth it.