Our family theme this month has been being wanted vs. rejection. The summer weather has brought along some tearful playground moments when the other kids haven’t wanted to play with my daughter (or have yet to realize that they really can have more than one friend a day) and I would venture to guess that I am not the only mom whose own early childhood rejections come surging to mind as she watches her child walking across the wood chips with a quivering lip. Add to that the fact that writing (or more accurately, publishing) is an exercise in rejection and we’ve spent a lot of energy on being unwanted lately.
However, being wanted and accepted has also been something we’ve been experiencing a lot of. We still love trips to the playground because, more often than not, my daughter leaves with a great big hug from a new friend. On my part, being the mother of a young child has allowed me to make more friends than I have ever had and to develop those “I’ve got your back” kind of relationships that, until relatively recently, have been few and far between. And, as an exciting change of pace, I even had a break through in the writing rejection process recently!
So we’ve been learning about how it feels to be desired and how it feels to be discarded.
Interestingly, I’ve also been reading a new Bible study by Heather Holleman that just came out last month called Included in Christ. The main premise of the study is that we all have a story that we tell about ourselves and who we are. Many of us tell stories that define our lives based on painful experiences that we have had and, as I have read some of these stories, I am amazed by how many of us let our “not good enough,” “they didn’t pick me,” and “I’m so awkward and defective!” experiences dictate how we see ourselves. These stories of rejection literally zap our lives of many of the blessings that God wants to bestow on us.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, we can let the stories we tell ourselves (and others) about our lives be centered on the reality that the God of the universe thought us up, created us, and desires to spend our lives here on earth (and even our eternities) with us. I wonder what would happen if we held our earthly experiences a little more loosely and, instead, defined ourselves by how God sees His people: “The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see – a splendid crown in the hand of God. Never again will you be called the ‘Forsaken City’ or ‘The Desolate Land.’ Your new name will be ‘The City of God’s Delight’ and ‘The Bride of God,’ for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.” (Isaiah 62:3-4). If our life stories reflected the truth that God delights in us rather than that people have rejected us, how would our lives change? How would our relationships change? How would the way we treat even the least among us change? I suspect that the world would be a much more joyful, fulfilling and gentle place to live.