Some of my most painful memories in life involve rejection -- specifically, rejection in a romantic relationship. We go in with so much hope, hoping to connect the deepest parts of us to the deepest parts of somebody else. And when that connection happens, it feels like magic. The other side of the coin, though, is that sometimes we open up a tender, vulnerable part of ourselves, only to be rejected … I’m convinced that nothing hurts more.
So what do we do with this rejection? How do we keep it from crushing us? And is there any way rejection can actually be a good thing?
I was talking to my dear friend Kait about this recently, and I just love the wisdom she shared. Kait is such a powerful encourager, and her personal story of rejection is one that can teach us all something.
Friend, if you’re here with a broken heart after being rejected, feel free to scroll right down to the heart of this post. But if you could use a reminder that you’re SO not alone in this, here’s a piece of Kait’s story:
Kait told me, “After letting go of a long-term relationship, I ended up in a toxic string of relationships. I felt so low. The lowest of lows. And I had no idea who I was. I felt like I’d wasted my time with all these guys. But it wasn’t a waste of time. You learn so much from everything in your life. None of it is wasted time, and it’s all about building our identity through it. I do believe God allows us to experience our lowest moments because we have to cling to Him. God’s love is the water we need for our parched souls.”
Rejection can make us feel so parched, right? So Kait took a break from dating. She dug deep into the Bible and her prayer time, rebuilding her identity according to how Jesus sees her -- loved and lovable, always and forever. And when she re-entered the dating world, she was stronger.
In 2017, she met this amazing guy. Their relationship was fun, thoughtful -- and centered on God. She truly thought she would marry him.
But then something happened that she never saw coming.
She told me, “He came over one day and said he wanted to chat about something. He expressed concerns about some things he had never shared before.”
Ouch. The fear of rejection was back again, stronger than ever.
So they could think, pray, and figure out if their relationship had a future, they decided to take a break for one week. And in that beautiful, painful week, Kait had a choice: She could let herself sink into fear and insecurity or she could be proactive and address the possibility of heartbreak.
She shares, “I knew I needed to step back and see the whole picture. Jesus taught me that if rejection was going to hit, I had tools to deal with it. In the past, rejection made me feel like I wasn’t worthy.”
But this time, she could see rejection differently. She knew it did not and would not define her. It didn’t mean she was unlovable. She could see (for the very first time) that often what looks like rejection is actually God’s protection and redirection toward something even better.
Friends, whether you’re afraid of future rejection or processing a fresh rejection of your own, here are three actions you can take right now to keep your eyes on the truth of your worth -- on who God is and who you are because of Him.
Don’t just think about this. Write it down! Make a list of the things you know to be true about God, yourself, and this situation. Plaster post-it notes to your mirror. Especially in confusing situations that can be so full of emotion, it’s important for us to cling to the truth.
When Kait was in the midst of the break with her boyfriend, she wrote a list of truths in her journal. She did this so she could immediately turn to it if the breakup happened. (In fact, she brought the journal with her for their conversation, keeping it close for comfort when he did ultimately end the relationship.) Here is what she wrote:
“How to Respond in Truth If Rejection Hits”
1. It’s not that you are not good enough. God’s love and plans for you supersede this rejection.
2. If this is what you thought was God’s best for you, His true best is going to blow your mind!
3. God is setting you apart for something greater.
4. This doesn’t mean this man does not love you. You are still loved and lovable.
The stronger we are in our identity in Jesus, the easier it is for us to see this rejection objectively. This rejection says nothing about your identity. It’s not about you being unworthy or not enough in any way. And the more we can remember that truth, the more we start to see that rejection is often God’s positive redirection. It’s often His nudge toward something better.
Seeing rejection in this way has allowed Kait to remain good friends with some of her exes. He didn’t reject her as a person, just as a future romantic partner. As Kait says, “If they aren’t into me, it’s okay! I’m glad I know because that’s not what I want. I want someone whose heart is ignited toward me.”
Friends, one of the great things that can come out of a relationship (even one that ends hurtfully or doesn’t work out the way we’d hoped) is that it’s a great chance to pause and revisit our must-have lists! Did you learn something important from this relationship? Do you have a better understanding of your unique needs and desires?
I know for me, each relationship taught me more about what I am looking for in a person, what’s important to me. It also showed me what I’m not willing to live without. Some of my dating rejections helped me realize that pursuit is one of my must-haves. If you’re not pursuing me, you’re not what I’m looking for in a person. Sometimes we forget that can be a requirement. Pursuit was on my list. And Carl pursued me so well.
He just teased me about this the other day, “Steph, I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with me.”
And that is so different from relationships when I felt I needed to be my shiniest, brightest self to make sure the guy didn’t leave.
Sweet friend, above all, know you are not alone. No matter how wounded your heart feels, no matter how deeply the rejection stings, it does not at all mean you are unworthy of love! Remember, this is a redirection, not the end. God is setting you apart for something big and wonderful. You are still whole and worthy of a man whose heart is ignited toward you! Friend, you are loved. You are lovable.