Excerpt from my upcoming book Providence:
It all started in elementary school when some of the other kids teased me about my crooked nose and slightly crossed eyes. I had to wear big glasses to try and strengthen my lazy eye. And then there was the awesome patch that the doctored required me to wear to strengthen my weak eye. So if I didn’t have the big glasses on I had the lovely eye patch on. Fun times. I can still hear those shrill voices asking me in a very non-shy tone “What’s wrong with your eyes?” And “What’s wrong with your nose?” I didn’t know what to say so I would just run to an empty bathroom stall and cry my crossed eyes out. I eventually stopped being social and tried to be invisible. Those first stings of rejection stretched their tentacles into my 5 year old heart and latched on.
From that day forward I always felt like a misfit, a reject. Like a weird little alien trapped on this planet with no one of my kind. I finally found out at 12 years old when I broke my nose what was wrong with me. Apparently craniosynostis claimed me as a victim and it caused my skull to grow asymmetrical causing my facial disfigurements. I remember hearing the death blow that the doctor gave as he explained to my mom that he could “fix my face.” Thats when I officially understood that Something about me was broken and flawed. That’s also when my mouth filled with bile and I held back from displaying the contents of my stomach. I officially slid the ugly girl banner over my head and hung my head in shame.
I wore that banner years and it clouded my view of God and myself. I felt worthless and ashamed most of my life. But JESUS. He pursued me in such a relentless way, a beautiful way that I could not resist His affection. He lavished me with His love by surrounding me with His presence and people that understood His kindness and nature. I felt drawn to scripture until He finally redefined my definition of beauty and gave me perspective about the way God sees us.
But that didn’t happen overnight and that root of rejection ran deep in me. So every single perceived rejection I faced in every area of my life struck that chord with me. It sounds like a dissonant chord, like a 5 year old sat down at a piano and pretended to play but had no idea how to make a chord. Loud clanging bad notes seemed to overwhelm my life in times of rejection. I couldn’t see my way out so I proceeded to remind myself what a loser I had become and why did I think I could ever do anything great. Once a loser always a loser.
Of course those were lies of the enemy but I had not yet learned my true identity so I didn’t know how to fight. I remember once lying on my bed, listening to “The Sound of Silence” and begging God to just end my life. And it was all because I got rejected for a big opportunity to open for an international Christian artist. Apparently my whole validation for being alive hung in the balance and this Christian artist held the keys. Looking back now I realize the ridiculousness of that situation and the fact that I would put my whole worth and value into a notion that a created person like me could actually determine my value.
The only person that can determine the worth of something or someone is the person that created the object. I couldn’t tell a famous fashion designer the value of a new dress they created because I don’t know much about dresses. I especially couldn’t make one if my life depended on it. As a matter of fact I can’t even sew a button back on something. My mom tried to teach me how to use a sewing machine but I ended up with a sad little batch of something that resembled pillows. They were lumpy and ugly. And I have no idea how much fabric costs, or how to tell the quality of one versus another. That whole world is a mystery to me. Yet that’s exactly what I did when I put the scales in the hands of another person to determine my value. They can’t determine that. They didn’t create me; they don’t know the costs involved with it or how to do it. It’s just their best guess and it’s very subjective based upon their worldview and what they deem important.
I remember another time having a complete meltdown because the barista at a coffee shop I frequent overlooked me. I sat in the drive thru line window for at least 10 minutes and no one even looked at me or took my order. I finally sped off with tears sliding down my checks. It all boiled down to that stab of rejection. I felt rejected and invisible. Any normal person would have got someone’s attention and asked for help but I didn’t. I felt like I didn’t matter and that situation just exposed the truth of my existence of being overlooked and forgotten. It confirmed all of these toxic thoughts going on in my brain.
That real life encounter showed me how desperately I clung to everyone else but God to determine my value. And that little situation pales in comparison to the perceived rejection I felt with the dream. It happened when I set my sights upon a worship leader position at the church I attended. At that point all other doors closed and the only thing I felt released to do involved helping with the worship at my church.
I faithfully served on the team for years. During the time i served there the church went through 3 worship pastors. I assumed maybe this was God’s will for me and the ultimate fulfillment of the dream He gave me but apparently not. The church leadership rejected my application 3 times for the position. That felt like the final blow to me on a never-ending quest for approval and meaning. The first couple of times the rejection sent me spiraling into self-destruction mode. I thought I would never recover from feeling inadequate and completely confused about the dream.
But that last rejection, the one when it seemed I might get the position hurt the most. And the death blow came from people I loved and trusted and I believed they loved me as well. But it still hurt like hell. But the amazing thing about the situation was that it finally did kill me. Yes, it killed the old me-the one I clung to for years. The old me that died when Jesus died on the cross finally laid to rest in her coffin. RIP. Thank God she died because I couldn’t live a double life anymore. I couldn’t keep up the charade of being the perfect, sold out Christian when part of me still desired a platform. Either this whole life is about God or it’s about me but it couldn’t be both anymore.
The truth is I didn’t change; I died. Huge difference. So I held a little funeral for myself and decorated my coffin with a nice bouquet of lillies, purple ones to be exact, and said my own eulogy followed by a really depressing song. I grieved for a day or 2 and then I set out living entirely different. I began to see my life through new eyes. I realized WHY God allowed the rejection over and over. He wanted me all to Himself-no other gods or idols could hold His place.
This is true for all of us. Sometimes rejection comes because God cannot allow that which would ultimately destroy us. He loves us too much to take a back seat in our lives as our #2. God uses rejection to redirect us because He loves us and we should be eternally grateful for it.