Risk Rejectionhttp://www.amylsullivan1.com. Week Three of getting out there and taking risks that frighten the hairs off our heads and, as if that wasn’t enough, then going public with it. If you haven’t read about my week one or two or the stories of the other ladies on this wonderfully terrifying journey (week one, week two), you’re missing out.
I’m going to be honest today—I’ve felt kind of not real with all the other women in this group talking about how their risks make them want to throw up or scream or cry or whatever women do when they get really, really nervous. Not in the sense of I haven’t been genuine about risking. Just in the sense of, “Hey, throwing up is overrated and besides, after three kids and numerous pets, I know darn well who has to clean that up.”
There’s something that happens after a certain age, I think, that makes women look at frightening circumstances in life and say, “Hmm, are you worth the energy I’m going to expend worrying about what’s going to happen here?” And the answer is almost universally ‘no.’ It’s purely a conservation of resources thing.
I’ve taken genuine risks the last two weeks. They have been scary. And I have sat around with that pit-of-the-stomach feeling we know so well that quietly nags at us– “What were you thinking? You know that person you contacted for your risk is at this moment showing your letter on a video screen to a conference room full of people and saying ‘This is a perfect example of one stupid thing not to do. Oh, wait. Make that many stupid things.’”
(Yes, I have been to enough writing conferences to have a healthy fear of everbeing made an example of “what not to do.”)
But though that stomach pit thing happens, when rejection does come, it doesn’t bother me that much anymore. I know now (although I don’t always practice what I know) that it isn’t personal. People have different agendas, different needs of the moment, and different callings. I put mine out there, and if it matches someone else’s, huzzah. But if not, moving on to the next thing.
Except this week has brought, instead of the risks and potential rejections I had planned, rejections I had not planned. Silences that felt like rejection. Brushing off of my feelings and opinions that felt like rejection. Careless slights from other people that have felt very much like rejections, even if their originators would never frame them as such.
That’s one thing about rejection—it can often be backhanded, making it much harder not to take personally and even more difficult to respond to. “Oh, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Right. That makes it all so much better.
This is the kind of rejection that doesn’t roll off so well into, “Moving on. Nothing to see here.” It’s the kind that is personal. And I handle it with not so much assurance. Read that, not well. At. All.
In several completely different situations this week, I’ve been tempted to decide, “I’m done. I don’t need this anymore. Call me when you’re going to be a positive part of my life.” Relationship rejection pulls up our fight or flight instinct, and this week it’s been tempting to do both. Tempting, but not healthy. Why not healthy, you ask? Why, thanks for asking. I’ll tell you.
For a long time, I’ve watched people post those pleasant, affirming saying on Facebook that go something like this:
And while I totally understand the idea—some of us have been deeply hurt by some pretty stinky people—I always want to scream just a little.
Do you have any idea what kind of a person it will make YOU to believe that?
Do you know what kind of a person you will become if you live like that?
Truth—God threw us messed up people together here for a reason. To help each other be less messed up. If we continually move on from people who hurt us, intentionally or just stupidly, we don’t become better people. We become shallow people. Fearful people. People who would rather build tidy walls around ourselves and decorate them with cute plaques than do the scary work of talking things through, facing rejection, forging forgiveness. Taking down the safe walls.
When it ispersonal? This risking rejection stuff hurts. It’s no coincidence that it all happens right when I’m on this RiskRejection journey. It’s getting personal. God’s asking what I’m going to do about it. He knows it’s in community that it matters most.
It’s also not at all a coincidence I read this this morning:
Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. (Luke 6 38)
Keep giving. Keep forgiving. Keep loving. Just keep . . . everything. No limits. No terms. No fears.
More Truth: If you are in relationship with me, I will hurt you. I will mess up. I will disappoint and ignore you and not even know it. But I will not run away from you. (Unless you’re wielding a large knife or a .45. Then, probably.)
Let’s do this community thing, and let’s handle this rejection thing, and let’s be people who aren’t afraid to go behind the pretty walls and nice sayings and become better people. Risk together.