Let's be real, rejection stings. It stings bad, and it can come in many different forms. Maybe you thought you were going to get that position and they chose someone else, or maybe you began building your fantasy future with a person until they broke it to you that they did not feel the same way. I have felt all of these things and more. Just a heads up, I'm not here to give you the recipe for how to numb your heart to the pain of rejection. Quite frankly, I don't think that recipe even exists (but if it does… can you send it to me?). I think rejection is an emotional journey we need to take. I know in my times of feeling rejected I am slapped in the face with this question: What is filling my cup?
Let's think of our hearts, souls, minds and spirits as empty cups. We are longing to be filled. Filled with worth, feeling like we are enough, feeling accomplished, feeling loved. What defines these things for us? Better question, what defines these things for YOU? The best way I can walk through this question with you is to share what these feelings have looked like for me. I love to be affirmed by others. Words or actions, I'll take it all. So much of my teenage years were filled with me hanging onto every good AND bad word directed at me. I wanted to be seen, known, praised for my hard work and told that I was good enough. At times I still feel this way, but this way of thinking is wrong! For years I was practically holding myself in bondage, because as great as the moments of praise felt, the moments of rejection would hit me ten times harder. For every negative comment I needed about fifty compliments to tie into a rope and pull me out of the hole I just mentally threw myself in. It's a vicious cycle, and I needed freedom. If you can relate to my mental process, I want to share this freedom with you.
Rejection will come like a hail storm when we put our hope in our imperfect world. Why? It's right there; our world is imperfect. We are broken people. We've lived in sin, but the same God that defeated our sin wants to take the place of the rejection in your cup. Psalms 34:17-20 says this:
"The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!"
What do the verbs in this verse tell us? He hears, He is close, He comes, He protects. Hello, does He know who he is dealing with?
This just seems ridiculous. Drudging up all of my emotional issues and trying to fix this mess can feel like I am trying to declutter a garage that has been filled with 10 years of hoarded crap... "God, you don't want this cup." I found myself thinking, but before this thought could fester into a full-blown breakdown God stopped me in my tracks. "Did I ever ask you to come clean?" Does it say anywhere in scripture "Get it together, clean yourself up, figure out your issues, and then I will accept you and love you?" No! The Bible calls us to bring our issues to God first!
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." Matthew 11:28-30
I felt him say to my soul, "This is my job and I love doing it, because I love you, and I love being your father." And all of the sudden my cup full of dirty looks, words, and pain fell to the ground and spilled everywhere. Before I could scramble to clean up the mess, God came in. He cleaned the spill, removed the stains, washed the cup clean, and began filling it with His words.
"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:8
"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead." Ephesians 2:4-5
"No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." Romans 8:37
"It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
Don't get me wrong, I still try and cram people's words and actions towards me into my cup. But I have now realized that when your cup is full of who God says you are, no matter what worldly thing you try to mix in, it can't even compare to his truth. People's words float to the top, because nothing can stand against the weight of truth. We see this in John 8:32 when Jesus says himself "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
We are human. We are always going to be searching for our identity, but don't let these moments of clarity pass you by. What's filling your cup?