What rejection has taught me
Isabella Ow // September 13, 2021, 6:00 pm
I have never been a popular girl.
There have been many times when I would wonder: Why am I not invited to so and so’s wedding? Why am I never in someone’s “close friends” clique?
Could it be that I thought that I had made a genuine connection with someone, but it was not reciprocated?
Of course, I needed to reflect on the closeness of the relationship and manage my expectations, but the sting of perceived rejection would still be sorely felt.
I realised that deep inside, each of us has a need to feel accepted and feel like we truly belong. But my experiences taught me this: rejection was commonplace.
It had even become a companion. I got used to it.
Before I made a connection with anyone, I would already predetermine that there might be no success. It became the default way I viewed situations.
I knew what the answer would be before I embarked on anything. It was a sweet death sentence.
But then, God.
Lately, I have been asking Him many questions and reflecting on my life.
“God, where were you back then?” has been an interesting question for me to process.
I don’t do this out of regret over my past, but because I would like to make better and more God-directed choices in my present and future.
I believe in the value of retrospection — not to relieve the pain and mope, but to more clearly see God’s hand and presence in a situation.
I am learning how to see my previous experiences through different lenses.
“God, why did these things happen to me? What is it that You are trying to show me?”
My feelings of exclusion and rejection back in school? He had actually put me in a place where my teachers were nurturing, caring and supportive.
My friends were mainly nice and pleasant. Not all the time and not all of them, but the dislike could have been due to hormonal adjustments commonly experienced by teenagers.
I also had to take responsibility for my own social ineptness, which could have caused misunderstandings and strife. I was a really prideful and unempathetic person back then.
I struggled with understanding the perspective of another person because I simply hadn’t shared their experience. I also didn’t bother to understand what they were going through too.
My feelings of isolation and inferiority in tertiary education? There were friends who were there and who had tried to reach out.
People tried striking up conversations with me and finding a connection, but I was so self-absorbed that I could not appreciate that.
I also lacked the wisdom of making frequent and successful connections with other people in the past.
Perhaps it does not matter that I am not a popular girl.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the experiences of perceived rejection have gotten any fewer.
In fact, as I get older, I feel less charismatic and feel like I have fewer qualities about myself that make me an attractive friend to someone else.
One thing that has definitely changed though is I don’t yearn for affirmation from my friends as much.
The perceived rejections also affect my sense of identity a lot less. Perhaps it does not matter that I am not a popular girl. I am seen and known by God.
Rejection has taught me to be surer of myself and who I am as a person too. When I form genuine connections with others with similar experiences, the relationships feel all the more precious and special.
If only we would be a little more open to what God places in our hands, we would be able to cherish the circumstances and people whom we take for granted.
Experiencing rejection has also helped me to empathise with others in their own painful and difficult experiences.
We can learn a lot from Leah’s life when it comes to experiencing rejection from people (Genesis 29). For most of her life, she yearned for the love of Jacob.
Through it all, God was faithful to show her how precious she was to Him – Jesus came through the lineage of Leah.
How amazing is that for someone who had experienced such outright and humiliating rejection for so much of her life. God chose her.
What a privilege it is to be seen, known and loved by Him.
The fact of the matter is, God chooses and pursues us every day, even when things do not feel that way. What a privilege it is to be seen, known and loved by Him.
God is always willing to speak to us. He is our nearest and dearest Best Friend.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Rather than hang on to the feelings of hurt and the sting of rejection, we can choose to be assured in His perfect plans for us. Rejection could be a redirection from God, or His way of saying “this is not right for you” or “not right now”.
If God determines that something is not right for us, we can choose to trust Him.
May your experiences of rejection be processed through the lens of Christ’s love and purposes, and may you experience that revelation of being known, recognised and affirmed by Him.
THINK + TALK
- Are you struggling with feelings of rejection? Bring it before God and ask Him to help you see the situation with fresh eyes.
- What have you learnt about yourself, about others and about God through your experiences of rejection?
- How can you be grateful for the other people/things He has placed in your life?