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Topic: Rejection (11/15/04)
By Debbie OConnor
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When I watch Daniel, I see what might have been.
I am very like my son. I love intensely, but I fear more greatly. I bear the scars of rejection.
Even though it has been nearly two decades since I was an awkward teenage girl, I still have the same anxiety with strangers I had then. I am particularly anxious in the presence of authority figures or people I admire.
This week I was asked to give my testimony at a ladies' ministry meeting. I was told that it would be a small, intimate group of women enjoying some hot cocoa together and that I shouldn’t worry about preparing anything formal. The leader just wanted me to be led by the Spirit and share my story.
No problem, right? So I thought! I love sharing my testimony, God has done awesome things for me. The ladies at my church are very friendly and I have recently had a desire to get back into public speaking.
I agreed and was looking forward to the experience. I started thinking and praying about what I would say a month in advance. As the date approached I emailed my leader to make sure the meeting was still on. Our church is pretty small, and sometimes plans are changed at the last minute. I didn’t hear from my friend until the night before I was to speak. I assumed, since I had heard nothing, that the meeting was postponed. Then I got the call.
My leader had been busy with other things and thought the meeting was the following week, hence the late notice. Hence, I was unprepared.
I did it anyway. She told me to be informal. I was. I was also so nervous that my voice shook and I cried all the way home. I’m not sure that much of what I said made sense.
See, my family moved twice during my school years. Both times I was cruelly rejected by my peers. I was ignored, gossiped about, excluded and ridiculed. On one occasion I was physically hurt and horribly embarrassed when no one would let me sit by them on the bus. The bus driver took off while I was still standing.
These experiences taught me to be very careful with new people. My coping mechanism is to be quiet and inoffensive. I hang back and let people come to me. If they’re the outgoing, friendly type I usually do pretty well because I like to listen to people. If they’re the shy, more reserved type the relationship will take a long time to establish. Having the burden of conversation in a small group on me without being well-prepared was overpowering.
In spite of this unfortunate experience I am confident that what might have been will one day be. I will be free to love people the way my son does. God began this good work in me and He will be faithful to complete it (Php 1:6 NIV).
I will keep trying, forgetting what is behind and pressing onward toward that high calling in Christ Jesus (Php 3:13-14 NIV). And next time I’m asked to speak, I’ll prepare thoroughly even if I’m not sure the event is taking place.