Rejection and loneliness is something that I have battled with all of my life. As a child nestled safe inside my mother’s womb, I couldn’t comprehend the outside forces that violently threatened my existence. As a young girl the sting of anger gushing from a man declaring repeatedly that I didn’t belong confused my innocent desires to be accepted and embraced. Going into the teenage years with no sense of who I was or where I belonged led to countless attempts to find myself in the wrong people and the wrong thing s. Being taunted over of my appearance, excluded from the social cliques, even to be looked down upon by the church because I didn’t have the correct religious clothing imbedded a warped truth that there was something wrong with me and I was unworthy of acceptance. Rejection became my constant companion and soon loneliness settled into my heart as a loyal friend.
Many years, numerous mistakes and immeasurable strength was put into searching for a person, a place, a job or position, anything that would deem me worthy. Yet in all my attempts and fleeting moments of satisfaction, the days of bliss would dwindle down and the nights of waking up feeling empty and alone would settle in again like a hibernating bear.
It wasn’t until April 10, 1994, at the age of 24 that my life finally took a turn for the best. In a small church, standing amidst a congregation of strangers, I came face to face with the one, like me, who had been despised and rejected himself. The Bible says He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins. But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. (Isaiah 53)
Without any hesitancy, I took hold of the nail pierced hands and fell into the outstretched arms of the one who gave his life to prove that I was worthy, accepted and loved. It has been an interesting 17 year journey. It hasn’t always been sunshine and mountain tops that’s for sure and many times I have let go of those hands, and ran from the warm embrace, yet He has never let me go. I have learned a lot about myself, and have experienced the healing of wounds that I thought were mine for existence. I have discovered that my worth lies in who He says that I am not what others do or think about me, and mainly , my worst enemy at times, my opinion of myself. My relationship with Him over the years has transformed me from a broken woman with a shattered heart who was unable to stand myself much less love others to a whole woman who likes myself (on most days – we won’t count the hormonal roller coaster rides!) with a heart that is able to love beyond any capacity I ever imagined.
I’m by far not immune to the old feelings coming and knocking on my door from time to time. Different things can send out smoke signals for them to come rushing in. Harsh words from a child you’ve worked so hard to please, careless actions from others, a memory that has crept its way back into my thoughts, a disturbing dream, all can cause the old familiar tune to strum it’s melody upon my heart. (I’m human myself and capable of making mistakes that may cause someone else that I love to feel the same way. Ugh! )
Just this week I found myself waking up to the chill of the uninvited presence. 5 am came way too early and the darkness wore a mask that enveloped my senses. I laid in bed crying out to God to help me not feel this way. The dread of going through the day with this heaviness weighed down my spirit. I needed an answer, a reassurance that He heard me.
It wasn’t long until I heard the comfort of His voice as he reminded me of the thief on the cross. Here was man who, for whatever reasons in his life, had made many mistakes which brought him to a fate that was sealed with doom. There is no mention of anyone standing in the crowd that day that had any compassion for this thief and I can only imagine the feelings of rejection and loneliness he was experiencing as he hung on the cross in front of the angry crowd. In a moment of despair, he cried out to Jesus, “Lord remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Simple words that shouted volumes of hope that one day he wouldn’t be alone. Jesus’s response wasn’t, “dude you must be crazy! You deserve what you’re getting,” or even “okay, sure I will do that but it may take a while.” Out of His own agony, Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” This man’s last breath was taken with the comfort and assurance that Jesus had not rejected him.
That same comfort given to the lowly thief over 2000 years ago flooded my room as the sun rose over the horizon. The weight on my soul was lifted and the promise of His ever-present love soothed every cell of my being. The truth spoken by Jeremiah of His mercies renewing themselves each morning penetrated the empty spaces and filled me up once again.