As I reflect on the North Carolina mountains in my home state, from the Blue Ridge Parkway leading through Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, I realize that I am simply a tiny morsel of God's creation. The natural features of this gorgeous region unfold specific spirit and character as the seasons call them forth, one-by-one.
As I write this message in September, I realize by mid-October the autumn leaves will supply a variety of small and colorful disco-looking floors extending from the Oak, the Birch, and the Elms. This must be God's way of making room for the sun sparkles to dance.
My soul's spirit reaches a crescendo with the morning sun. There is peace in the mountains--every good reason to snuggle my way into a warm blanket during the cool and crisp evening to create a mental reflection of a gratitude list.
All too often this scene scurries before we take notice. Unfortunately, many of us leave with it and return to society--that place where the cut-throat system lives--that place where we all try time and again to trudge and attempt to do so without failure.
Does rejection come to each one of us? In many forms? Of course, it does. There is no way to live a life of integrity without rejection. It is impossible to be a person of faith without rejection. Being a person of conviction brings rejection at the drop of a hat.
Jesus Christ suffered the deepest rejection while being dragged in the scorching heat and finally nailed to the cross. No question, this horrific scene is unimaginable. How difficult it is to take in what Jesus experienced in order that we may be saved from sin. Though Jesus was more than a bit upset with this formidable circumstance, He remained strong. Could He have water while stumbling, bleeding, and thirsty in the hot, sultry, weather--while carrying the weight of the heavy cross that was cutting into his shoulders? We know the answer was no. Though rejected time and again, for one reason or another, Christ served the world with conviction. He simply showed us the way to faith, knowing that sometimes we may have little of it, "...small as a mustard seed."
Do you suspect that Jesus knew we would be experiencing rejection in our lives? I believe it so. I believe it is because of Him that we are able to live through one rejection after another, rather than go down with the rejection.
How about the guy who is sure that being quarterback on the football team will bring he and the most beautiful girl in his homeroom to another level--one that is social, and then romantic. How painful it was to look into the bleachers during half-time and feel all potential dying as he watched Sharon with her new boyfriend, Charlie. No wonder the quarterback's team lost that night. (No wonder we need more in life than being a sports star.)
Look at the high school senior who is craving to hear from the college to which she applied. Finally, the letter arrives. She anxiously tears into the envelope, soon feeling the burn of tears on her face as she reads and then feels every word of its rejection. (No wonder we need more in life than having a prestigious diploma linked to our name.)
There was a time when I believed all folks 'should' like me if I was kind to them. The thought was natural to me, but it was unnatural to the entire picture of my life.
Years ago I wondered why Craig didn't call me. In my teens I waited by the phone every night, hoping against hope that he would invite me to the junior-senior prom. Did he call? No. Did I feel rejected? Yes. When I asked my best friend what she thought the problem was, she answered, "Bev, in all likelihood, it's simple. Probably, he just doesn't like you."
When Helen so bluntly stated this truth to me, I was disgusted, not to mention, horrified.
"You've gotta let it go," she said. "I experience rejection all the time." Ah, welcome to life, as a teenager, a life that goes on and on, with highs and lows, with acceptances, and rejections. (No wonder we need more in life than a boyfriend.)
As Christians we learn that not everyone is going to like us. Not everyone is going to agree with us, no matter how kind we are. So, what have I learned from being rejected?
At the very least, I have learned how to take a healthier approach to life's rejections--how not to be a people pleaser, unless it is natural. (In the first place, people know when we are not natural in pleasing them,and they know when we are sincere.)
How do I deal with rejection? I quickly work on dismissing the rejection from my mind so I can enjoy my own personal time before becoming rejected again. Yes, as Helen said, "You gotta let it go."
Like in the North Carolina mountains, seasons are called one-by-one. There is a time to reap and a time to sow. There is a time to love and a time to hate.
Life teaches me -- the sooner I let go of unpleasant times, the sooner I experience longer-lasting and increasingly beautiful seasons--ah, yes...every good reason to snuggle my way into a warm blanket during the cool of the evening and create a mental reflection of yet another addition to my gratitude list. What relief to learn that rejection is a mere seasonal thing. The sun always shines again...always.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.