How do you handle rejection?
Unfortunately, rejection is one of life’s constants. I remember as a boy when we chose sides for a ball game. Not being a natural athlete, I was never the first person selected. Sometimes I waited and waited until the captain of one of the teams finally pointed to me and said, “Robert.”
I remember the anxiety I felt attending a school “sock hop” and trying to muster up the courage to ask someone to dance. What if she said no? What if she realized I wasn’t a very good dancer? That fear continued into my dating years in high school and college, trying to find the boldness to ask an attractive young woman to go out. The possibility of being rejected was terrifying for a young man with an already fragile ego.
|This window display in Giessen, Germany shows rejection,|
fear and "angst" are universal concerns.
Rejection, of course, doesn’t end in college. You apply for a job, or engage in an interview where a prospective employer evaluates you and how well you could fill a specific role with the organization. Being rejected directly, or even indirectly when the promised “We’ll get back to you” never happens, is never enjoyable.
As a writer, the ominous threat of rejection became real when I started sending out query letters and proposals for magazine articles and books. How could anyone not be as enthused about my scintillating ideas as I was? Letters that said, “We regret to inform you that your idea does not fit our needs,” or the kinder, “The concept you suggest for your book is intriguing, but we’re sorry that we cannot consider it at this time,” were difficult. Even established authors like John Grisham, Stephen King and many others painfully recall rejection letters they accumulated over the years.
A book I’ve edited for a friend has just been sent to a publisher, and I’m excited about the impact it can have. It’s an inspiring story about overcoming rejection and using that as motivation to keep trying, never giving up. The question is not whether we’ll experience rejection, but rather how we respond when we do.
Recently I came across a Bible passage about rejection that struck me as never before. It talks about Jesus: “...the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him…. ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’ and ‘A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall’” (1 Peter 2:4-8).
The times when I’ve been rejected were hard, but understandable. I wasn’t fast or agile enough, not experienced or talented enough, perhaps not “cool” enough. I was rejected because I was deemed unworthy. But considering the rejection of Jesus, who did no wrong and performed so much good, defies my comprehension.
He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and showed compassion to the emotionally and spiritually wounded, yet He was rejected. And that rejection, unlike my own, led to an excruciating death on a cross.
This rejection continues today. To my knowledge, Jesus Christ is the only name of a religious or spiritual leader that is used as an expletive, a curse word. Not Mohammad, Confucius, Buddha, Krishna, or anyone else you can think of. Interesting, isn’t it?
And for people like me, whether we call ourselves Christians, followers of Jesus or His disciples, we encounter increasing ridicule, even malice. However, it’s usually not us being rejecting, but Him.