Community. Conversation. Connection.

Pick your Poison (or Find Your Freedom)

Recently I was reflecting on one of those fun adolescent moments that makes us all die a little cringe inside.

As I remember it, pretty much all the girls in the class had participated in a sleepover over the weekend and coming back Monday, they were more giggly and boisterous than usual.

I had always had friends who were girls and through some means I got caught up in their conversation, secretive as it was. I found out that at this party, they had given a number rating to all the boys in the class. My curiosity couldn’t be contained.

After a little pestering, they told me a couple of the boys’ scores, but of course, all I really wanted to know was where I had ranked. They refused to tell me so later I went to a girl that I knew had a crush on me and I practically begged her to tell me. I wore her down after all her refusals and she finally let me have it–sort of.

“You got a negative number,” she said apologetically.

I don’t think I said anything and my face was probably a mixture of shock and horror. This was 6th grade. I was on the cusp of adolescence and these concerns were beginning to take center stage. I didn’t figure I was a 10 or anything, but a negative number?

“I told them they should give you extra points for good personality!” she tried consoling me.

That’s great, I thought, I may be a hideous, unlovable beast but my personality is inoffensive.

It was then that I decided I had no hope for romantic relationships with girls. I was their friend and that’s all I’d ever be. When I finally got together with the amazing woman who became my wife, I wondered whether one day she would wake up and realize I was unattractive. Honestly, I still struggle with it to some degree, just not to the soul-crushing level of a sixth grader.

Rejection (especially in those formative years) has a profound effect on how we conduct ourselves going forward. A pattern was set and protocols were put into place to attempt avoiding that pain ever again.

How do you react to the fear of rejection? Some of us project a cool, impervious exterior and, consequently, never develop deep, satisfying relationships. Some of us are so fearful of rejection that we withdraw and decline almost everything, while others continually say yes to everyone, hoping to gain their approval. –Robert McGee, The Search for Significance

No matter how you cope, you can’t avoid the pain forever. You have to deal with the rejection–usually not just once, but over and over.

You can either succumb and establish your worth on the conditional approval of people or you can rely on the eternally, immovable measuring stick of what God has declared you to be. When confronted with His reality, you do get to choose. People’s conditional approval or His constant approval?

With one, you drink the poison over and over. With Him, you can break the cycle.

What have you done (or do you currently do) to bypass rejection? What have you missed out on because of these patterns?


I am currently rereading The Search for Significance by Robert McGee (disclosure). It’s an incredible book about “seeing your true worth through God’s eyes.”

I have written several posts previously if you’d like to check them out, but I hope you’ll join with me in the discussion.

14 Comments

  1. Awesome reminder, Jason. I can get caught up in my “ranking” too often, and forget my identity is in Jesus to begin with.
    Stephen Haggerty recently posted..September 2012 Beard Of The MonthMy Profile

    • Always a dead end road when we look to others to establish our worth! Thanks Stephen.

  2. Dang a negative number? I’m glad I didn’t have that kind of experience, but I have dealt with more rejection than I ever thought I could handle. I’ve done the “yes” thing and the withdraw completely thing, but none of it ever works. Our merit is not based on the approval of man or woman, and that is of great comfort always!
    Philip recently posted..A Glimpse of HopeMy Profile

    • Yeah, the sad thing too is that instead of just being mad about it and/or forgetting it, I justified them in their harshness. What a mess we are without His redemptive work in our lives! I’m so thankful for Jesus. :) Thanks Philip.

  3. It’s funny what kids perceive as cool. My guess is if they had a chance to rate you today your score would be much different. Because you were their friends and without a challenge so to speak, they looked for other things. The greener grass concept. The cool part is how God used that experience to shape you and prepare your heart, mind, and eyes for the one He had chosen for you… It doesn’t get any better than that.

    True connection takes risking rejection, but like everything else in life, the payoff is worth the risk or pain…

    • Yeah, that’s true, Floyd. I’m just amazed how deeply those things get ingrained in us. My wife still tells me when there’s a woman flirting with me because I’m completely clueless (mostly because I still have trouble believing it’s possible!). Anyway, so thankful God helps us move on and like you said, it prepares us for the good things and relationships He has for us. And on the plus side, I’ve never dated, kissed, or anything else with a woman other than my wife--which is just great with me! Thanks Floyd.

      • That’s awesome, Jason. I’m going to have my daughters read this.

        • Ha! I can’t say I’ve always been thrilled about that, but I am now. :)

  4. I was a nerd to the nerds in high school… I only remember ever going out on two dates during the entire four years. Both of them were with friends. I didn’t even get a kiss out of the deal. Can’t you hear the violins playing sad music in the background?

    Well, I overcompensated going into college. I became the Romeo to the ladies’ Juliet… at least until they saw through the un-maintainable facade.

    Then I finally realized, I am just as God made me. He did not make a mistake. In Him, I am approved and accepted. In Him, I eventually (after a few more mishaps) found my Eve. She is my perfect partner in this life. In Him, with her, we are one.
    Dusty Rayburn recently posted..He BreathedMy Profile

    • I love that whatever our story is, God is able to bring us into His best once we choose Him. How awesome is that? Grace is sufficient and powerful! Thanks Dusty.

  5. The fear of rejection has led me to be a people pleaser. I am slowly learning to be the me that God created me to be instead of trying to be the me that I think others want me to be. By doing this it has forced me to face rejection because a lot of people don’t like it when you don’t live up to their plans for you. :)
    Kevin Martineau recently posted..A huge help for building rhythm into our livesMy Profile

    • Man, tell me about it. Especially when you’re finally stretching that very important “no” muscle for the first time. Those people want to know why you don’t “love them anymore” or why you’re so “unkind” now. Motivation is everything. If it’s fear and trying to please people above God, it’s bondage and He gives us freedom! Thanks so much, Kevin.

  6. It’s funny, but even though I still love people, and go out of my way for them, I still end up being rejected. I guess I keep going hoping that one day I won’t be. I try not let it get to me, but the initial shock still happens, after that I just brush it off as fast as possible.
    Ed recently posted..The Dangerous Art of ComplainingMy Profile

    • That’s all we can do, Ed. People are going through their own struggles and then there are those who are pretty much just jerks. Jesus loved and gave to them all and even got rejected. He calls us to do the same. I’m with you, brother. Thanks.