Facing Rejection

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Rejection stings.  No one likes to be rejected.  In the age of social media the pain of rejection knows no bounds.  I was reading a post on a popular Christian magazine’s Facebook page this morning.  We would love to think that only someone who agrees with the magazine would be posting comments on their page, that was hardly the truth.  Most of the comments were negative, pot stirrers, people who were running in with a quick cut to the jugular and then disappearing into internet obscurity.

Before social media, there were definitely people who were like this.  Mean girls who would reject your offer of friendship and then talk about you behind your back.  Today, the negative comments are thrown right in your face. You know every word they say about you.

Before social media,  you could plan a party and excitement would roll in as you received the phone calls of those who were RSVPing that they would be in attendance.  Now, you not only see the responses of those who have chosen not to attend but also what they chose to do with their time instead.  You feel rejected when a person would rather spend time at the beach than with you on your birthday.  You feel rejected when you see photos of your group of friends all having lunch together, and you were not invited.

Social media has even given rejection no accountability at all.  You can unfriend someone without having to tell them why the friendship is over.  A person can kick you out of a facebook group, without ever having to tell you what you did wrong.  You can be banned.  BANNED.  A term once applied to people who were bad news and thus banned from a certain store, restaurant, or event.  Now, any regular person can be banned from a group… for no reason at all, for no reason ever given.

And, the worst part about it…. you know that this has happened.  When you attempt to view their social media account.  Unfriended.  When you can’t even find the social media account. Banned.  You are left with unanswered questions… what did I do wrong?  I thought was being helpful?  Did someone misunderstand me?  Why didn’t they like me? 

It is easy to wallow in those questions, wondering why you have been rejected.  It some instances it can hurt as badly as someone rejecting you to your face, in other instances it may hurt worse because you don’t even know why and there is nothing you can do about it.

I learned a long time ago to stop running after those who can’t make time for you, and to focus on those who will.  We can too easily get wrapped up in being accepted by a particular person, group of friends, or even social media account… that we can forget about those who have always been by our side, supporting us, who have pursued us.

A new friend reminded me one day when I was lamenting over a rejections… “Gena, those are just not your people.”

So true.  Maybe it is the wisdom of age catching up with me, but I realize that I don’t have enough time or energy for those who are “not my people”.  And, I am learning to better recognize who truly are my people.  Who supports me.  Who can I trust.  Who allows me to be me vs. changing me to what they want me to be?  Who can allow me to grieve how I need to grieve?  Who treats me like an adult, a person, and not a project?  Who trusts that I am capable person vs. talking down to me like a child?

When you begin to set boundaries, identify who you want to bring into your circle… rejection begins to sting less.  I think, in part, because you stop inviting the pests into your sanctuary in the first place… and you are quick to get rid of the ones that slip by.

Doors and Pathways

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A friend recently posted on her Facebook page that when God is making your path straight, He may cut off access to the other paths we are not meant to be taking.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot, since I read it this morning.

We’ve all heard that cliche quote “When God closes a door, He opens a window”.  This almost implies a certainty that the Lord isn’t going to shut the door to an opportunity without giving you an better one… and that it’s going to be obvious.  Closed door, open window.

When I think of that illustration, I don’t think of opportunity.  I think of escape.  We escape out of windows, we don’t just willy nilly walk through them.  They are not intended as an entrance and exit to a building.  No one would approve a building made up of entirely windows.  You can’t even get approval on a building or home with just one door and only windows.  There is a requirement for second door.  If you tell me to climb through the window, you are telling me that I am escaping… or in the terms of a teenager sneaking away.

You could argue that I am stuck on semantics, and that it implies the same meaning as saying “Where God closes one door, He’ll open another.”  Even there, there is an implication that God will not close one door without giving you an obvious exit.  I have another friend who insists that God will not call you from something until He is ready to call you to something else.

As I ponder these opinions, I realize my issue wasn’t with the details of the illustration itself.  Semantics or not.  Rather, my issue is that these cliche quotes and ideas of always having an open door neglects the times that the Lord calls us into a season of the wandering in the wilderness.  In the OT story of the Israelites wandering the desert, we know that their destination was not immediately revealed to them.  Yes, they knew that they were aiming for something; but they had no idea of when or where that would unfold.  They just kept walking.  Trusting.  And complaining a bit too.

I think that is why my friend’s words this morning were rooted into my thoughts, because this illustration seems so much more realistic.  That the Lord may close a door, may close off pathways we were not meant tread upon… because He is carving a path before us.  The other doorway may not be open yet, it may not even be visible yet. By faith, I keep walking. One step at a time.  The old door fading in the distance.

Perhaps there are times where God closes the door, and puts us on a journey that separates us from the old because He is preparing us for the new.  There may be times in our lives that we need to be severed, where our roots are pruned.  A new home is waiting for us, but in this moment we must wait.

I purchased some cuttings from a beautiful tree to plant at my home.  When they arrived, there was not a root to be seen.  You see, when you sell cuttings off of this tree… first you cut or break off the parts that you intend to grow into new trees.  Then you let them sit, not in any soil… nor are they watered.  You let them dry for a period of time, before you replant or ship them.  My instructions were then to take these dried up sticks and put them in small pots of regular dirt.  No fertilizer, no water, no direct sun.  I was to basically ignore them until I began to see leaves opening up from the top.  Only then could I put them into a larger pot and begin to care for them.

I was not neglecting these plants, but actually giving them the space to they needed to form new roots.  NEW ROOTS.

I believe there are times where the Lord will pull you from one thing without giving you a new place to go… at least not right away.  Why?  Because, He is giving you new roots… roots that are formed IN HIM only.  Not the place you serve, the ministry you lead, etc.  Instead, you are pulled out of everything that is familiar and put into His hands.  He is going to ready you in this time for whatever it is He has in store for your future.

Some roots need to be severed.

Sometimes we need new roots.

Sometimes there are no open doors.

We know that we can’t go back from where we came, but until the Lord is ready to reveal the path He is foraging… we may need to spend sometime in the waiting room.  Instead of running around trying to find out which door is unlocked, which window to escape from… we need to sit and wait.  Then in His timing, a door will open, and you will hear a voice that says “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isa 30:21)

A Few Good Books

The books in this post have been provided to me from the publisher for the purpose of giving an honest review.  While the books were provided to me free of charge, the thoughts and opinions on these books are my own.

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The Bible is a really big, God sized, story of redemption from creation to revelation.  Among the pages are books, chapters, and verses that reveal this big story through small stories made up of Biblical heroes and tales of miracles.  We see free will, judgement, grace, and forgiveness unfold throughout the pages.  Our eyes are opened to The Gospel and hearts are pressed forward into The Great Commission.  As many times as we can slide our hand across the pages, and our eyes soak in every Word, there is a beautiful opportunity to learn from others who are in this same faith journey.  We go to services on the weekend, participate in small group Bible studies, attend conferences, and even watch sermons and speakers online.

We do this because we desire to understand more, learn more.  I was thrilled by The Good Book by Deron Spoo because it is a resource that I can put into my personal study library and revisit often.   Between the covers, Deron Spoo has explored forty major themes found in the Bible.  Spoo doesn’t just set us down to tell us what he thinks, but begins each theme on the foundations of the Scriptures in full content, not just a random verse or two.  Then he expounds upon the theme from the scripture and encourages personal reflection at the end of the chapter.  This isn’t just a book for reading, but a book for study, sharing, and for future reference.

I’d recommend this book for new believers who are trying to grapple with the entirety of the Bible; as well as seasoned believers who may enjoy a fresh perspective.

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I have had my hands on this book for a little bit, I wanted to do this book justice and held onto it until after the kids were out of school.  Rest is incredibly important, for our body and for our mind.  Also, for our soul.

As I have mentioned in the past on the blog, I have an autoimmune disease.  It can leave me feeling beat down and fatigued… even after a full night of sleep.  Part of getting a hold on my health was making decisions about what I would eat, how I would spend my energy, and the products I use on my body.  I needed to detox my body of all the bad things that could be getting in the way of my health.  This was an important step in healing my body so that I could do all that I wanted to with my life, my time, my energy.

Just like our bodies can be burdened by what we eat and drink, our heart and soul can be burdened by the sin of the world.  There are our own personal sins of days past that may haunt us, the sins of others which create anger and resentment; even the daily news can break our hearts for what is happening all around us.  If I want to improve my physical health, I must be mindful of what I eat and drink, put onto my body, and what I do with my body.  So much I take tender care with my heart and soul.  We can’t take care of the outside of the temple, and let the inside rot away or cave in under the burdens of the world.

Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray walk us through 40 days of detoxing our soul through devotions that remind us of how God sees us (as beloved) and what that means in our choices, our daily lives, our future dreams, and healing from the inside out.  Each day explores the theme for that day, The Word, coupled with prayers and reflections, and calls to action to reclaim our mental, spiritual, and physical selves.

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Remarkable Faith by Shauna Letellier is a fantastic book, truly.  Letellier explores those incidences in Biblical history where the faith of others caused Jesus to take pause.  These were people that remained unnamed and yet we talk about them to day.  We call her the “woman with the blood disorder”, and we call him the Roman Centurion.  There are others too, whom we know just by their affliction, pain, tragedy… and their display of remarkable faith.

I can’t recall reading a book from this perspective, where the focus was on the nameless people who had a faith that was stronger than their affliction; and that is so relevant today.  These are the true stories of people whom we could (and probably do) encounter in our churches every day, on the streets as we pass by, and even in the dynamics of our own families.  I think this would be a fantastic book for a small group, or even potentially a starting point for a sermon series.

I think of so many women, in particular, who feel unseen.  These nine people remind us that even those who names may be lost to history were far from unseen.  They were known by God who created them, known by the Savior who marveled at their faith

Happy Birthday to Me!

musing40It’s July, which means it is my birthday month.  I’m turning forty, which is usually one of those big deal birthdays where your friends and family make a big deal over how old you are getting.  I know I’ve been to and planned my fair share of these milestone parties.  I’ve listened to friends who have lamented over hitting this number, and witnessed those who have embraced it like a second wind of youth.  Forty is the new twenty, right?

As much as I have lived this number through others, shopped the party stores that have more than enough fortieth birthday supplies, and even years of input from television and movies… I don’t get it.  I’m trying to wrap my head around what makes forty such a big deal.  I thought maybe I would understand the why when it was actually happening to me.  Well, it is here and I still don’t see the big deal.

So, if you feel like sharing… leave a comment.  Was turning forty an exciting time for you, did you lament it, or was it not really a big deal at all?  For those who are long past forty, looking back at how you reacted to your fortieth… how do you feel about it now?

Center Stage

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It was nearly twenty five years ago, that I walked into a new theatre class.  The instructor had everyone begin physical warm ups, followed by vocal warm ups.  He began an exercise where we were supposed to move around the room, walking … running… skipping… dancing… any movement we chose, and he would pop up from behind us and ask us questions about ourselves.

What is your favorite color? 

Who do you love more your mother, or your father?

Why are you in this class?

What kind of car do you drive?

All very random.  An exercise to help us feel the ease of answering some questions versus the difficulty of others.  How did answering change the way we moved across the room as we answered?  How did answering change our body mannerisms, our vocal tone?  Then he asked this poor girl…

Why do you want to be an actress?

She replied:  I want to be famous.  I want people to know who I am.

He told her to leave his classroom, this class was for serious actors only.

I thought her answer said so very much more.  It spoke to me of a girl with insecurities, looking for validation in success.  Famous would mean that her work was good.  Famous would mean she was known, respected, seen.  Famous would mean that she was not being looked over any longer.  She was fragile. And yet, she was brave.  I believe a lot can be said for her honest answer, even if the teacher didn’t see it.  I saw it.

I have loved the theatre and performing as far back as I can remember.  It all began in a Kindergarten Circus.  We built costumes, putting on a show for our family members and other students.  It was amazing.  I received such accolades for my lion costume, my teacher took me around to the other teachers to show off my curly mane constructed from several shades of brown construction paper.  I was an excellent lion.  Years later, I was an excellent snobby heiress.  Many years later, I received my first newspaper review for a stunning performance… followed by one that identified me as hilarious.

As much as I have loved the on stage aspects of theatre, I have always had a special affinity for the backstage happenings.  Planning, staging, building sets, lighting design, costume construction, special effects make up.  I’ve directed more shows than I have been cast in, received recognition and awards for my work.  Yet, one of the most valuable things I’ve taken away from all of these experiences came from the moment I understood what that teacher really meant when he sent that student out of his classroom.

I can tell immediately when someone “belongs on the stage”.  There is something about them that feels natural, at home, on the stage.  I can tell when someone doesn’t belong too.  Sometimes, they were cast because they looked the part but lacked the talent.  Other times they wanted to be in the show for the attention, but lacked the commitment to the part.  I’ve even seen incredibly talented actors look so out of place on the stage simply because their passion was something incredibly different.

You can be good at something, but that doesn’t mean it is your passion or calling.  You can be terrible at something, but forced into that position to fill a void or because someone else thinks you are perfect for the role.  You can even thrust yourself into the fray because you think it will give you what you are looking for, but your attempts are misguided.  This student was told to leave the class because she was looking for attention and validation, and the teacher knew it would never happen.  He knew that she was throwing herself into the shark infested waters, hoping that her talent would save her.  He knew that throngs of people, critics, and the industry would eat her alive.

I thought he was cruel that day.  Now, I see him as being merciful.  As I think about her now, I remember we shared another class a few years later.  She was different, more confident in herself.  I’m not sure what happened after she walked out of that first class… but this was not the same girl.  If I had to take an educated guess, it would be that her motives changed.

Now I am in a different “industry”, filled with writers, speakers, and ministry leaders.  In the last six months, I have had multiple people tell me they feel called to writing, public speaking, etc.   I often find myself asking (in my head) as similar questions as my old teacher.

Why do you want to write?  Why do you want to speak at events, conferences?

Why are you moving toward center stage?

We must examine our own motives and desires.

Are we putting Christ center stage, or ourselves?

Are we sharing our words, opinions, perspectives or God’s truth?

Do we want people to look at us, see us, validate us?  Or, are we giving God the spotlight acting as His humble messenger?

If we enter a public arena with faulty motives, we are throwing ourselves in among the shark hoping that our gifts will save us from the feeding frenzy.  However, when our motives are in line with God’s desires then He is given center stage.  We don’t have to rely on our gifts to save us, because we have already been saved.  Our joy comes in sharing not our own selves with the world, but instead sharing the life changing power of Jesus Christ.

Unexpected Surprises

faithjamesspeakerI believe, that when you are fully present that you have the capacity to learn something from just about anyone.  It’s probably why I consider myself a life long learner, because it is just impossible to me that I could leave an encounter without a new thought or consideration.

I am, however, caught off guard when I pick up a nugget of gold that I can apply to an area of my life other than where it was intended.  This past weekend is a perfect example.

Working with a growing ministry means that I am often learning about things like branding, marketing, communications, etc.  It is important to have a grasp on the administrative and technical parts of the work.  I attended a workshop on branding and the speaker, Faith James, was sharing about how we represent our brand.  She said “You are the CEO of you! Brand yourself well.”

I was wondering how well I “brand myself” as a follower of Christ?

Do I walk in confidence of Him?

Do I speak with knowledge of Him?

Can I answer questions people ask about Him?

Am I energetic and excited about Him?

Do I represent Him will to the public?

Am I considered credible about Him?

Food for thought.

 

You Can Not Hold Back the Dawn

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 “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

Psalm 30:5 AMP 

From a 1959 sermon by Reverend Leslie D Weatherhead entitled: The Religion of the Dawn…

“There is a dawn answer for every situation we encounter.  We cannot pretend there is no night.  Nothing can be done to hasten the dawn.”  But, “you cannot hold back the dawn”

[Christianity] is a religion of unquenchable faith and hope and patience; unquenchable because it believes the permanent thing is light and the passing thing is darkness; that however long the night, whether it be in world affairs or the poignant private world of the human heart, the night will pass.  You can’t hold back the dawn.  All affairs, private and world-wide are in the hands of a God who is in complete and final control and who has decreed the entire conquest of all evil and the final emergence of indescribable good.

Reverend Leslie D Weatherhead

We may face the coming darkness, because we have the promise of a glorious dawn.