“Did you see it?”
“See what?” I responded.
“Facebook. They posted pictures of their girls’ trip.”
“No, I haven’t been on Facebook today. But I’ll look now.”
Why did I look? It was right before bed, and with every swipe through the gallery, my heartache increased. It would be hours before I would finally cry myself to sleep.
They looked like they were having a blast; posing in front of hallmark places to commemorate their adventure, each of their faces plastered with a carefree smile.
I thought I had been one of them. But here I was, late on a Friday night at home in my bed, while they were together... probably laughing, storytelling, and secret sharing. I was not one of them after all. I was on the outside, looking in. I thought I had been a part of their “we” but, in reality, I was just “me.”
I have felt the sting of her bitterness more often than I care to admit.
Even as a child, I can recall how insignificant she made me feel — piercing my tiny heart, making me feel unwelcome and unwanted.
She was there with her icy-cold stare of dismissiveness when my neighbor friend couldn't play with me and her other friends at the same time. I was relegated to her leftover play time, when her other friends were busy with other things.
Rejection made me feel unworthy — even then.
Sadly, she and I have met face to face many times throughout my life. Sometimes, I’ve left our confrontations unscathed by her sharp stabs to my emotions; but there have been other times when I’ve limped away, seriously wounded.
Now, as an adult, I’ve witnessed her hurt those closest to me as well. One particular moment that has left an indelible mark on my heart was when I watched my daughter, Nora, go to battle with her.
It was a Sunday morning and I was helping my mother prepare the preschoolers for their upcoming Christmas program. As we worked through the montage of songs, Nora was holding hands with a friend, when another girl came into the mix. In that moment, the child who’d been holding Nora’s hand abruptly cast her hand aside, pushed her out of the way, and said she couldn’t stand there anymore. Then, this child went on to hold the new girl’s hand. I looked over and saw big tears pour out from Nora’s dark, chocolate-brown eyes and stream down her tiny face.
She struggled to find a spot where no one could see her cry, quickly trying to wipe her face with the back of her arm. I could see her lip quiver as she looked on to me for comfort and reassurance.
I had a front-row seat to the effect rejection was having on my child. I wanted to scream at her, “No! Not Nora too! Please leave her alone! She's only four; she can’t handle your wicked assault!”
Thankfully, Mimi (my mother) immediately stepped in, tenderly moved Nora, and swiftly (but gently) said to the other girl, “Nora didn’t want to hold your hand anyway.”
Then Mimi turned to Nora and said, “Here, you can hold her hand .” And the outstretched hand of a smiling, 5-year-old, Amelia, helped soften the blow of Nora’s hurt heart.
In those brief moments, I ached for my baby because Rejection stings at any age — whether you’re four, forty, or eighty-four.
Maybe you’ve never been left out of a trip, or cast aside for a seemingly better offer, but I am certain you’ve met rejection before.
Like me, you’re probably all too familiar with her. Maybe you’ve been looked over for a job, or your spouse left you for another. Or maybe your experience began before you left the womb — born to a mother or father who didn’t want you. Regardless of how she introduces herself to you, all of us will eventually experience the pain she inflicts.
Rejection may be a formidable foe, but she does not have to be the victor. Although we may be left with battle scars, these healed wounds are not without purpose.
In Japan, there is a pottery technique called Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”). It is the art of taking broken vessels and mending them with gold. The method sees breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to cover up and disguise. In fact, there is absolutely no attempt to hide the damage, and the repair is literally illuminated with gold. The vessel is restored, yet forever changed — having more value than before.
Isn’t that just like us?
In Exodus 15:26, God says, “I am the Lord who heals you.” In Hebrew, this is translated: “Jehovah Rapha” (רָפָא, rä·fä’) — the God who cures, heals, repairs, and thoroughly makes whole.
And Psalm 147:3 says this of the Lord, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Our God takes the fragmented pieces of our hearts and binds us up so our healing can take place. In our brokenness, Jehovah Rapha, God our Healer, can put us back together in a way that our scars tell a story.
Today, my mind traces over the fibrous connective tissue that has formed, enclosing Rejection’s wounds, and I realize there is no more pain. Now, when my thoughts brush over the raised, knotted scars that have healed, I have only a memory of the suffering that once was. But, when I think about those marks, I am reminded of Genesis 50:20. Today, I can boldly tell rejection, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
I have learnt that when I experience the acute pain from Rejection or hurts brought on by the hand of another, I need to ask the Lord to help me see this person as He does and for Him to remind my spirit that it’s not a fleshly battle. And then there are times when I have to acknowledge that I’ve hurt others too — both knowingly and unknowingly — because we are all sinners and we all offend (Romans 3:23-24). What sets us apart is our response to our offenses. Will we choose to move forward and extend grace to those who hurt us?
She is beautiful. She is kind. She is welcoming and accepting to all.
She is the free gift from God that no one earns or deserves.
She and her sweet friend, Mercy, join together to form the salve that fills in Rejection’s lacerations and puncture wounds, helping to bind our injuries. Grace, she’s the one that covers the hurts and reminds us that we have been forgiven of much, so we too should forgive others — even those who wield Rejection like a deadly weapon.
I think about my own journey with the Lord and how He has forgiven me of so much. I can recall a great deal of my past with shame and regret, but through His grace, mercy, and love — I am redeemed, justified, and made thoroughly whole. I deserve nothing but an eternity in hell. Yet, through Christ’s death on the cross, He took all of my sin, shame, regret, and that ugly girl, Rejection, and cast it all away as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12).
For all of my scars I am thankful.
For all of His grace, I am grateful.