This has been a great week, and i was hoping to get past my birthday without the usual tears, but today was the day.
Birthdays have always been a time i felt especially rejected, unloved. In the way, a bother. I don't think anyone meant to make me feel that way, but it was consistently the way i experienced birthdays. As an adult, i haven't made my childrens' birthdays a big deal - generally just a cake and presents with the family - and i feel bad about not taking the time to make parties, but birthdays just fill me with dread and sadness.
This Sunday, before we left for church, i just felt kind of despondent. I was talking with God and said maybe i'll look up rejection in my Strong's concordance before church once we get there, and see what HE has to say about it...
But we were late, and sidled into a row of empty chairs.
The sermon was really good, about being converted - and then the pastor asked a man up to share his testimony. The man was a mill worker from here in town, and i hadn't talked to him before, but he was incredibly comfortable up on the platform talking, and one thing he said stuck out to me - it was about how he had been brought up with three brothers, but his mom wasn't around much, and he felt that rejection so keenly. He grew up thinking that whatever he wanted, he would take by force. He grew up into a man who was unpleasant, full of anger, and afraid of tenderness and love, as he saw those emotions as leaving him vulnerable.
In so many ways, i think he speaks for most of us. Maybe not every week or every day or even every year, but i think loneliness is one of the emotions we've all felt, and to feel rejected, at least for me, means i keep away from people even more. Which leads to more loneliness, sometimes when you need to be in community most of all.
I went home and looked up the word rejection on BibleGateway.org, and this is what i found:
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
Do you see what God is saying there? I'm looking up rejection and He is reaching down and saying "no, Stephanie, you are accepted."
Then i looked up "reject" and what i found made my heart ache.
118 entries, and these are phrases from some of the first ones:
and if you reject my decrees...
they rejected my laws...
I will not reject them or abhor them...
you have rejected the LORD...
I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected...
He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior...
it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king...
What i felt was God telling me that *He* knows rejection. He's been rejected, over and over. He knows, He sees, He cares. And He's enough. His heart for me, for you, is to bless us, to lead us to the promised land, and over and over we reject Him.
Watching the face of the man giving his testimony this morning, i cried a little. It was just a little overwhelming, and to be honest, there was a little jealousy there - i've been a Christian for a long time, and there doesn't seem to be a way out of my situation other than just to continue eating it.
But i did go and tell him at the end that his testimony had been part of an answer to prayer for me. God telling me He sees, He knows. I needed to know i am not alone.
And now i know that i'm not only not alone, but He does know, understand, intimately, what it is to be rejected.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.