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.