The title, Embracing Rejection, seems oddly paired with a picture of a child tucked safely under the arm of a loved one. I was two weeks old in this captured moment, hardly a poster-child for rejection. In a sense I was blessed, although sometimes traumatized, to have been raised by two sets of "parents." That is another story altogether that I will save for another day. The point is, I was not an object of rejection but rather affection. Today, I'd like to share a little about where I have been these last few weeks. I did drop off the deep end, didn't I?
Not long after my last post, I found out that my friend found another illustrator for her book. She was ever gracious and her move made sense. A long time family friend offered to provide the watercolor paintings she desired. I'm not into watercolors. I want to work with graphic arts programs, a medium she was not into. Logically, it made sense for me to accept her rejection of my offer to help. On a heart level however, I felt the sometimes humiliating sting of rejection.
My first thought was, "Oh no. I shared my plans with so many people. What will they think?" In fact, a new friend has been inquiring about the illustrations. What have I been doing? Pathetically avoiding her. I have often withheld my convictions, opinions and thoughts for fear I may make a mistake. How apropos that my grand announcement of the end of my days just waiting, ushered in my first retraction. I am not creating illustrations for a children's book after all.
All the same, I am no longer just waiting. As God usually designs, and I sometimes overlook: a silver lining has been found among the clouds. Through my grand announcement, I learned that another friend would like my help on designing her book. She happens to want to use a graphics medium. Let me safely say, we may or may not end up working together. I haven't yet saved up enough to invest in the necessary equipment and software. The point is, I am now motivated towards what may happen, despite of and maybe because of rejection. I have also discovered another idea for a book based on my first car, a 1969 yellow mustang. Forgive me, for I shall leave that story for another day as well. In short it is a story about the consequences of immaturity, or shall I say "engine overhaul?"
Just after embracing my first rejection of the month, another door opened, one that has brought immediate gratification to me in the last few weeks. I have learned that blessings often occur rather suddenly. For several years, my church family has prayed and sought out a new location that would allow us to operate in our giftings. Last month, we were suddenly offered to share the facility of our dreams. The hitch was, we had one week to move, renovate and prepare for a professional video taping that had been scheduled months ago.
As a creative problem-solver, I love a good project. While my heart is for all things creative, I am also an organizer. I am a master at skills developed while organizing my mom's beloved creative clutter. And so, I was able to co-coordinate a massive project with excellence. Each day, I'd wake up early in the morning only to return late in the evening, both mentally and physically exhausted. Sudden blessings can be a lot of work. All the same, I gleaned a greater blessing than our new found resource. I acquired a little self-respect for the first time in my life.
I have a weakness for caring too much about what others think about me. It's a dangerous condition. There are people who just don't like me, or at least not all of me. I am a highly driven, energetic woman. It's been surprising to learn that, even in a church, men can have issues with women who have the skill for directing, also described as "bossiness." I've certainly rubbed a few the wrong way and been thoroughly rejected. However, during this last project I learned that I am valued, by both men and women alike. In short, I've learned not to judge myself according to what anyone thinks: you never know what they might be thinking!
Of course, our lives are lived around those who aren't just anyone. As a relatively newlywed, I am learning that my husband, once the boyfriend who adored my every syllable, has no problem rejecting me on a regular basis. My thoughts, ideas and desires are equally mowed down by his rejection. Of course, at times he doesn't realize he has caused me to feel rejected. Not too long ago, we were enjoying the company of two close friends. The husband was gushing over his wife's cooking. They shared a laugh about a single meal involving monstrous amounts of blue cheese. As you can imagine, it was horrible. My husband relayed, "My wife has made more than one meal that I didn't like..." He meant to say that most of my meals were great. Nonetheless, his misappropriated words caused you guessed it, rejection. However, in that moment I had a choice to stew in a perceived moment of rejection or intentionally hear my husbands heart despite his words.
May was a busy month. It is the fifth month of the year and the number five represents grace. I suppose God knew I had need for grace. I ended the month learning to embrace rejection yet again. Several months ago, I knew it was time to release my official position at our church administration office. It was a scary move. I had enjoyed a sense of purpose and approval as a member of our church staff. On my own, who would notice me? Would my passion for writing cause me to be rejected or worse, unseen and un-respected? Recently, I perceived that a door might re-open. I really didn't know what my intuition was pointing to.
Just days ago, I sat in my pastors office slowly realizing that indeed I was before an open door. Only, I was being affirmed in my self-diagnosis: I did not belong in an office. My pastor lovingly affirmed my value to the ministry while encouraging me to continue in my self-discovery process. He gently advised me that I would not be on staff, a member of the advisory board or the head of a department. Rather, he desired for me to function as a project consultant, assisting the ministries of others with my gifts.
Ironically, I was given, through another rejection, the very desires of my heart. I am a natural born leader. In our modern world, leadership equates to a title or a department chair. Men and women drool over positions. Organizations of all natures, including ministries, have been dealt a death blow by the all consuming desire for prestige. This too, I shall keep as a story to share on another day. At the end of the day, quite literally, I realized that I had been rejected, and I loved it! I have no desire to manage a long-term commitment of an administrative nature. I was not created for that. I am designed to be a giver. I have so many ideas to share, skills to teach and thoughts to reveal. I would hate being tied down to one location, department or ministry type.
The truth is that oftentimes we need to be rejected. It is a healthy person that embraces rejection. I will never forget a sermon taught by my youth pastor entitled, "Not If Only, But Next Time." Really, how much time have I squandered because I haven't had the courage, or maturity to say, "What's next?" As a lover of the church, I firmly believe we need more rejection in the church. So often, we sin, that is to say, we miss the mark, even as believers, because we are trying to do things that God never purposed for our lives.
A friend recently posed the question, "What if God saw us the way we see ourselves, or others?" What a frightening thought! The truth is, God see's our potential. When we are stressing, He knows we have the capacity for peace. When we are operating out of our own strengths, he knows that one day we will learn to rest in him. As a believer, I have read countless stories of rejection. Our great hero's and heroine's embrace rejection. So, why is it that we spend so much energy avoiding rejection? I know I have. What are you avoiding because you are afraid to be rejected? Is it a chance at love? Or perhaps you too have a few books to write.
At two weeks old, I absorbed the affections of those around me. At two weeks old, I also had the power to affect those around me. I am thirty-two years removed from the embrace captured in the arms of one I love. However, I know that I can run to the arms of another One who will never reject me. But like the example of His son, I have the responsibility to embrace the potential rejection of this world. I know I can embrace rejection. I trust that you can too! Come on, open the door, speak your mind and share your heart. Perhaps you will find yourself making a course correction on this journey we call life as I have. It's all a part of the process!