By Jane Thornton –
Locker doors clanked shut. Occasional spurts of laughter rose above the hum and bustle of a hundred students shuffling along the hallway. My thirteen-year-old heart fluttered as my eyes tracked Victor’s passage.
Oblivious of my gaze, the lanky athlete swiped hair off his brow and grinned at a buddy’s comment.
Tearing my attention from his broad shoulders and silky locks, I turned to Susan and breathed, “Did you get it?”
She waved a scruffy red spiral under my nose. “Right here.”
Nerves aquiver, I fingered the cover of the slang book. AKA, slam book. Breath held for courage, I flipped to the first page—“Sign in.”
Susan traced her hand over the second column of names. “Here he is. Number sixteen.”
We scanned the pages. What is your favorite subject? P.E.
“No duh.” Susan rolled her eyes.
I smacked her arm playfully. “Be nice.”
What is your favorite color? Brown.
Well, yuck, but good to know. File for future reference.
What do you think of Brian L.? Best friend.
“Hurry. We have to get to class.” Susan flipped the pages faster.
Paper brushed paper and crackled at our speed. “There. Stop!”
What do you think of Jane Hines?
I skimmed over Susan’s: Smart, funny, best friend with a distracted quirk of my lips. “Thanks.”
I found it. Sprawled across the bottom corner: N.N. No nothing.
The world blurred. Susan’s reassurances faded away. Hope died.
Cold, hard fact. Not everyone likes us as much as we like them. And it hurts.
Of course, not everyone is as cruel as a junior high boy. Thank God. But even the gentlest rejections make our hearts ache. Unfortunately, people rarely tender rebuffs tenderly.
When I was a teenager, I took a teen counseling course. For a symbolic exercise, we each had an IALAC sign—I am lovable and capable—and as the session continued, various people tore pieces off our sign until we were left with a ragged scrap.
A school essay is returned with a failing grade. Snip.
After a woman has been talking ten minutes, her husband looks up from the TV, “What did you say?” Rip.
A man follows up on a job application. “Sorry, you don’t have the experience we’re looking for.” Tear.
A mother says to her daughter, “You’re going out wearing that?” Slash.
A guy leaves several messages, trying to hook up with an old friend. The calls are never returned. Shred.
Sometimes we can’t even get angry about being spurned. Can other people help it if they just don’t find us appealing? We spiral into discouragement.
Look to the answer Paul received from God, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9a NIV). We often seem to take God’s love for granted, echoing our children, “You have to say that; you’re my mother.”
No, He is not required to say He loves us…but He does.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV).
He doesn’t just love us; he delights in us (Psalm 18:19), and that is more than enough.
Comment prompt: What comforts you during times of rejection?