I didn’t need to hear their words; their faces alone told me enough. I wasn’t measuring up.
It was in the weeks leading up to Christmas that I found myself in the midst of a rehearsal for our church musical. Though I had taken part in school plays before, this would be my first true musical. I hadn’t receive a speaking part, but I was absolutely delighted to have been chosen to play the part of a sheep. And not just any sheep . . . a singing and dancing sheep. (I can almost feel your envy as I write this!) I had always loved to sing, and even though I had not taken dance lessons, I felt that I was pretty good at dancing as well. It was with confidence and excitement that I headed into rehearsal.
However, it didn’t take long for that confidence and excitement to dwindle. I noticed other “sheep” gathering in small groups, whispering quietly and stealing glances my way. I sensed frustration in their eye rolls as we repeatedly went over the basic choreography. Doubt began to creep into my mind and the sting of rejection rose up in my throat. I didn’t measure up. Apparently, I wasn’t the amazing, dancing sheep I thought I was.
Rejection. Have you ever felt its sting? It happens when we don’t receive the approval or acceptance of others. This lack of approval or acceptance may be communicated through harsh words or negative body language. For example, my kids often make the most “delightful” faces when I ask them to complete a chore for me. Their rejection of my request and me is evident by the glares and eye rolls they send my way. Sometimes though, it’s our own assumptions or perceptions of a given situation that leave us feeling rejected. The rejection I felt as a dancing sheep was largely based upon the assumption that I was the topic of whispered conversations.
Regardless of how it is communicated, rejection cuts deep and the pain that comes from it gives birth to lies that we allow to settle deep within us. We give these lies permission to settle into our hearts, and what happens when a lie gets permission to get cozy? It quickly becomes our truth. That truth is what we use to define who we are as a woman, as a wife, and as a mama.
I was in my third year of teaching first grade when something happened that shook me to my core. I had a student that was struggling, and as the year went on, it was very evident to me that there was a deeper issue there. I arranged a meeting with the parents to discuss testing for a learning disability. Now, as a mama, I can look back and imagine how difficult walking into that meeting must have been for this student’s mom. But, at the time, I was completely unprepared for the anger and blame she threw my way. In her mind, I wasn’t trying to help. Her child’s struggles were completely my fault and a result of my inept teaching. That student did end up being diagnosed with a learning disability, but not before the lies that I was a failure, naive, and incapable had settled deep into my heart. Lies that I must admit are still taking up residence today Lies I believe must be true and therefore define who I am. Every time I sit down to write, I question God and ask Him if He’s sure there isn’t someone else more capable of doing this than me. I question the significance of my words and my ability to express my thoughts. What about you? What rejection have you faced? What lies have you given permission to settle into your heart, become your truth and define who you are?
Jennie Allen, says that all lies fall under three core beliefs we accept about ourselves: I am helpless, I am worthless, I am unlovable. I’m helpless. There is nothing I can do to change the path that lies before me. I’m worthless. I have nothing significant to offer this world. I’m unlovable. I’ve made too many mistakes. No one in their right mind would love me the way that I am. Jennie goes on to say that these lies, “shape our thinking, our emotions, and the way we respond to the world around us. They trap us in their cycle of distraction and distortion and pain, preventing us from recognizing the truth we should believe.” What is the truth we should believe?
The truth we believe comes from the very One who created us. The truth is found in His Word. Psalm 139 says,
“For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.”
Psalm 139:13-14 (VOICE)
What does it say that God did? He shaped you. He formed you. He molded you exactly as He intended down to the smallest detail. Those freckles on your face? God put them there. Your chin that looks exactly like your grandma’s? That was God. The sensitive heart you have for others. That’s a gift from God. Your ability to bake well, work with numbers, or work with children? That’s part of your DNA that God wove together. God intentionally created you just as you are and He loves every bit of you. This is what’s true.
Why do we struggle to believe it? Why do we struggle to believe that the face we see in the mirror every morning was intentional created and is loved beyond our wildest imagination? We struggle because we live in a broken, messed up world. We live in a world where at every turn we face an enemy who is determined to discourage us and make us feel less than we are. He knows that a woman who believes she is loved and created with purpose is dangerous. She’s dangerous because she walks through life confidently, using the giftings God has given her to love people well. She influences every life that cross her path and God works through her to draw others closer to Him. That scares the enemy.
What can we do to fight him? Lysa Terkeurst says, “The gravity of living in a sin-soaked world will always try to hold us back from living loved. But if we will remember to return often to our Instructor . . . our Creator . . . we will discover His loving hands still pulse to continue making us. Tweaking us. Molding us. Filling us. And daily completing the good work He began in us.”
I think it can become so easy to view our relationship with God as part of our checklist for the day. Went to church. Check. Read a few verses. Check. Prayed with the kids. Check. What would look like however, to intentionally be spending time with Him? What would it look like if we were to step back from our crazy schedules and were still before Him? What if we learned to recognize the sound of His heartbeat within our lives? What if we not just read the truth found in His Word, but let it soak in and become part of our daily living? What if we let Him fill our minds with truth instead of the world? What would it look like if we were to reconnect with our Creator?
Rejection tells us that we are unworthy, incapable, unloved . . . Love tells us that God doesn’t make mistakes, and He made no mistake when He created you. Remember that. Lysa says, “There is an abundant need in this world for your contributions to the kingdom . . . your thoughts and words and artistic expressions . . . your exact brand of beautiful.” Your exact brand of beautiful. That’s what you are. You are beautiful, you are loved, and you are needed. Lean hard into truth. Lean in and decide to rise above the limits this world tries to place on you. Lean into who God created you to be.
Allen, Jennie. Get Out of Your Head. Waterbrook. 2020.
Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rejected. Accessed 13 Oct. 2020.
Terkeurst, Lysa. Uninvited Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Nashville. Nelson Books. 2016.