What Getting Rejected Taught Me About Myself
“Imma halfta step out n break up wit u.” That is a direct quote from my very first break up. Seventeen years old, two days shy of prom, and via text message—the latest way to communicate. That breakup and rejection cost me ten cents.
While that ended up being a hilarious anecdote to tell at parties, most of the time feeling rejected just sucks, no laughs about it. It doesn’t help that rejection is pervasive in our society.
The internet makes everything faster. It gives us the power to decide if we like a person or not in an instant with the swipe of one finger. We have countless TV shows dedicated to voting people off or casting people out. Colleges and jobs are getting more elite and selective. Everywhere we go, rejection is a reality we’ll be facing.
How can we deal with rejection socially, romantically, and professionally?
Rejection can impact us in varying levels of sadness, but there is no sadness so deep that the Lord can’t bring something beautiful out of it. He created the world out of nothing, and man out of dirt. He can surely make something incredible with your heart when it feels as low as it ever has.
Just as God won’t (and doesn’t) define us by our shortcomings, we can’t define ourselves by the things that don’t pan out—we can let them form us.
Rejection can teach us steps to better ourselves. We can learn what we want, what we won’t settle for, and hopefully also learn a little bit of humility.
The devastation of romantic rejection
Rejection from friends or family, or a job or opportunity, is one thing. But it’s another type of hurt when the rejection comes from a suitor.
Whether you’ve been talking to someone on an online dating site or have been married for years only to find annulment on the table, this level of rejection cuts deeper than any other.
In a relationship, you’re called to be your most authentic self. So when a rejection comes, it becomes a total self evaluation.
If you don’t get a job, sure the qualifications weren’t right. Maybe it wasn’t a good fit.
But in love, it’s suddenly becomes the haunting question: Am I even lovable?
If this person who knows everything about me doesn’t love me, maybe I’m not so lovable after all.
Let me address that immediately and quickly: You are absolutely lovable.
Rejection reminds us that ultimately, there’s only one true source of unconditional love: The Lord.
No matter your salary requirements, educational qualifications, personality type, interests, or appearance, God wants you every day, all the time. You are his child, and he loves you.
Rejoice in rejection!
In my own life, rejection has lately taken on a new face. It’s not romantic, but it’s deeply personal. I’ve been feeling rejected by a woman who is a fixture in my life. The situation is complex and reaching, tying us to one another in inescapable ways. Despite our forced close proximity, our relationship is anything but close.
It hurts every time I am rejected by her with a mean text or a hateful accusation. Sometimes I have a chance to defend myself, but more often than not, I don’t. It feels hopeless sometimes. It seems like this rejection will be a permanent state for our relationship.
Instead of using this to fuel sadness (which I have in the past), my new approach is to try to use it to relate to Christ.
If you’re looking for someone who understands rejection, look no further than Jesus. He was questioned, beaten, and literally driven out of town (Luke 4:27). But his message became only more powerful for those who did chose to listen to it.
Do what Christ did. Withdraw, spend time in prayer, and then regroup. Ask what God wants to teach you in this moment of rerouting.
When we draw close to the Lord, we can learn from the letdowns of our lives, and let them transform our hearts.
It’s an invitation to look inward and find how we can grow, but also what we can begin to love about ourselves enough to share with the world.
Erin is a Catholic writer living on the windy plains of Kansas. She loves reading, dark chocolate, sunflowers, and learning to cook.