Rejection. It’s a subject I am far too familiar with and one that I’ve only talked about one other time in my life: January/February 1997, in Belarus, to a group of women in drab clothes in an even more depressing room of concrete walls and metal chairs. I didn’t know anything about these women or why they were there. I suppose I never asked about them because I was already angry that I had been forced to go this meeting. You know, I was pouting. We also had a major language barrier, they spoke Russian and I couldn’t even say hello, plus their culture/mindset was so completely different than anything I had ever experienced.
Missions Trip To Belarus
I was on a missions trip to a nation that had just been ripped from communism as a former member of the U.S.S.R., and were trying to figure out how to stand on their own. There was still a heavy influence from the communist party, and members of the party followed us everywhere we went. When we disembarked our plane upon arrival, we were greeted with several heavily armed soldiers who held us in the airport for countless hours. It was quite an experience and we were not sure what was going to happen as it was illegal to share the gospel (we were all Christians from a well-know global missions organization) however, we were visiting their country under a humanitarian visa bringing much needed supplies for their hospitals and orphanages. In Minsk we were secluded in a dormitory for several days until we were given permission to move on to our final destination, unable to venture out into the city. For a few days we thought that they would deport us. We were allowed to go to a church in the city and they arranged for us to eat all our meals at a little cafe at a school, but that was it. Finally we were released to leave and go to our final stopping point, a smaller city in the north of the country. They followed us everywhere we went and listened to every meeting we held. We eventually found favor with the officials and at one point they invited us to an opera house for a private concert featuring their symphony and traditional dancers. It was spectacular.
But I digress…back to the ladies. That particular evening my plans were to relax and have some “me” time, however I was approached by our team leader and asked if I would go minister to a group of women who had faced a lot of rejection and pain in their lives. I don’t remember exactly, but I must have said I didn’t want to go because I do remember that he ended up telling me that I didn’t have a choice. (yea, me.) Out of our group of 30 or so there was just four of us who trekked the icy sidewalks and bitter air of Belarus in winter for several miles to a nondescript concrete building (they all looked exactly the same, and everything lacked color or imagination in that country). I had no idea what God was about to do. For me, I didn’t want do be there and I’m sure my pouty attitude was felt by all in my group.
My attitude changed quickly as we entered this gathering of many women. As I stood in the back of the room I knew, that I knew, God had called me to share part of my personal story – I had never shared it with anyone. Anyone. Ever. I just kept it buried. I guess I never wanted to think about it much or acknowledge that I had experienced so much rejection. It never occurred to me to tell anyone. Suddenly my story was relevant to the women sitting here, though I did not know how. All I knew is that before I could hesitate, I told my leaders I had a message to share and was walking down the aisle and standing, with an interpreter, in a room full of wide-eyed women of all ages. They were all wearing the same type of clothes: very heavy, drab coats and most had kerchiefs on their head. Smiles were lacking and their eyes were empty. This is what poverty looked like. We do not know poverty in the U.S., we don’t. They were poor in their spirit, soul and body. The one thing I noticed about that country is that there was no hope in anyone. They knew nothing of the Spirit of the Lord, not one person I met had a job, and the store’s shelves were sparse. The government had taken care of them for so long that they no longer knew how to dream, imagine, or hope. The seed of democracy was trying to find a place to be planted and grow since the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., but when you’ve been spoon-fed, told how & where you will live and how to think, and then suddenly it is gone…they were scared and lost. Most of the people I talked to liked the idea of democracy but they found that they wanted to go back to the way it was because it was all they knew. As Americans we were super-stars and they held on to every word we spoke, constantly asking questions about money. Money, money, money – it’s all they wanted to talk about – and what it was like to be rich. I grew up lower, middle class so I would argue that I was NOT rich. One girl got in my face, pointed her finger, and said, “You are rich!”. She was right. When I returned to the States I was so overwhelmed and embarrassed at our excesses, greed, and waste I was literally nauseous for days. I wept at our arrogance and wantonness. In Belarus, I visited the local grocery a few times and every single time the shelves were bare. There was not much available and in the winter fresh fruits and vegetables were very hard to come by. Occasionally you would see a street vendor with a small basket of over-ripe bananas or oranges, but they just didn’t have much. I can not imagine what it is like to live like that on an ongoing basis. Color was absent from their clothes, homes, buildings. Alcoholism was rampant with men passed out on the sidewalks. There was no beauty in that place. It’s been 20 years since my visit so I can only hope much has changed.
These ladies were truly poor. As I spoke they were absolutely transfixed on what I was saying; and I could see my team in the back of the room with wide eyes and open mouths. They had no idea this was my story. After I finished speaking I was completely taken off guard when nearly the entire room of women came up to me chatting away. I was literally surrounded and swarmed by the most lovely women I ever met. The interpreter was trying so hard to help me have conversations with them, but most just wanted to hug me and say “thank you”. It was a very humbling and memorable evening.
I’ve never told anyone about that evening. It’s a treasure I have kept to myself for 20 years. Now there is more to add to that story and I feel compelled once again to share it. More rejection but big lessons and a solid dependence on God. Rejection is not a popular topic. Most of the men and women called to the stage to speak have not experienced this too much, maybe a few, but for the majority, they are the lovely ones who speak well and easily attract an audience. We’ve all experienced some sort of rejection in our lives and I suppose we don’t talk about it much because who wants to admit that other people don’t like them? Currently, our society has our fake lives plastered all over social media where we try to prove to ourselves and the world how popular and happy we are. Behind all the staged selfies how many are so incredibly lonely? And even beyond that, how many carry the deep pain of rejection from a spouse, family member, the church, or friends?
A Tool Of Satan
Before I share my story that I shared with these women in Belarus, I want to say first, if you have been rejected it’s a tool of Satan. But the only power he has over you is the power you give him. Resist him and he WILL flee. That means you have to counter the lies in your head and the lies others believe – out loud. To resist, you declare truth by saying something like, “Thank you Lord that You love me! You want me and You like me.” Even if no one on the earth is your friend – God likes you! He WANTS to be around you. He loves you. He dances over you with joy (Zeph 3:17).
Second, don’t be a victim and give into self-pity or bitterness. Rejection is painful and if I was with you I’d give you a big hug…but then I’d tell you move forward and focus on all the blessings in your life. It’s death to stay in pity or to allow anger to rule you. (You have to actively resist pity and anger – every time! It’s the bait that Satan uses to draw you away from the presence and voice of God.)
Third, there is nothing wrong with you. God sees you and He has set you apart for a special purpose. Remember, he uses the lowly, the forgotten, the simple and the foolish things of the world. He chooses people that the rest of the world rejects.
Fourth, and last, examine yourself to make sure you are not unknowingly rejecting someone else. You are familiar with the pain of being invisible and feeling unimportant. The best way to heal is to look for others who may be unseen and befriend them. Maybe it’s the lady with the unattractive clothes, large eye glasses, and obnoxious voice; or it could be the beautiful girl that is always quiet. People assume she is a snob because she is well-dressed and pretty, but perhaps she does not have close friends and hides her loneliness in a pretty package. Same with men. I’m learning that men pretend to not need anyone and push people away (women too) when they fear rejection. They will reject first to avoid the pain of being rejected, however in the process create the very environment they are running from.
Either way, my point is that rejection is a tool of Satan to make you believe a lie. If you take his bait then you stay focused on yourself and your lonely plight, missing the fact that Satan wouldn’t use such an effective and powerful tool against you if you were not a threat. Consider it an honor that the enemy perceives the gifting and calling on your life a threat and is pulling out the big guns to blind you and render you ineffective. As long as you are focused on yourself you are useless in the Kingdom of God. Don’t fall for it! You have the mighty call of God on your life! Stand firm, speak the truth of God and determine that you will walk in victory – even if you don’t have any earthly support. You have a heavenly calling and The One on your side. That is all that matters.
[When I started writing much more came pouring out than I expected. I have a feeling it will take several posts to complete. Did this touch you? I’d be honored to communicate with you in our comment section. Please follow me so you won’t miss the rest of the story!]