I was pretty sure that when I turned 30, I would have acquired all the wisdom that life had to offer. Seriously, when you sit down with the older generation and they begin to tell their story, you are motivated to get on the ball and fly into destiny. Although you try not to compare yourself to others, you find yourself looking in the mirror and counting the blemishes that have yet to be removed. Nevertheless, the one thing I thought I would have conquered by now is how to deal with rejection.
I remember being seven and a new student at Rivera Elementary in Orlando. On my first day of school, I walked into class and sat right next to Justin (I don’t remember his last name). Being one of the four Black kids in an all-white school, I felt privileged to sit next to Justin. After all, he was very athletic, a creative writer, wonderful artist in art class, great swimmer and always managed to throw the ball to me at softball. I had the biggest crush on Justin so the day he smiled at me, it just made my day. I went home and wrote in my journal all my feelings about Justin.
From that day on, I longed to go to school. Days when Justin needed an extra pencil, he turned next to me and asked me for mine. Some days, he sat next to me at lunch and even though he didn’t say much his presence was all I wanted. When it was time for recess, I escaped to the swing set and Justin and I would take turns swinging each other back and forth. At this point, I believed these feelings inside this seven-year-old was mutual.
But one day, I walked into class and my world fell apart. Justin had requested his seat to be moved next to Mallory (yeah, I still remember her name). They became best friends by going to lunch together, hanging out at recess and he only threw the ball to her during softball. I later learned that she was his girlfriend. Justin never talked to me ever again and it’s like I never mattered. This was a rejection that life did not prepare me for but it happened.
Often times, when you are rejected, people are prone to tell you to “get over it” but how can you get over something that you cannot understand? Several people in the bible too experienced rejection like Leah, Joseph, Jonathan, Tamar, and even Jesus but their purpose and destiny was far beyond the pain they endured. Honestly, it’s hard to believe that there is purpose beyond pain because rejection is like eating broccoli for the first time, the bitter taste is hard to dissolve and stays on the tip of your tongue.
So, did I learn from Justin? Well, I thought I did but then I applied for thousands of jobs and the rejection letters came in dozens or the boy I loved walked down the aisle with someone else or my best friend decided to not invite me to her wedding or the guy who promised me the world dumped me because I was a virgin or the friend who I trusted unknowingly dismissed me from their life. It seemed like as the years went by, rejection rented a room in my apartment but never paid rent. Though I served rejection an eviction notice, it never left or was it supposed to leave at all?
Ultimately, rejection hurts after you’ve jumped into the water and then realized that the temperature was cooler than you imagined but I really thought I would have received my Master’s degree in that specialty by now. When I asked my mentor, how should I deal with rejection? He told me by knowing who you are in God then you are able to deal with rejection much better. Like Jesus, rejection will come but the things that use to hurt you won’t impact you the same anymore.