Rejection. We all face it at some point or another in our lives. Man, does it hurt! It stings and then goes deeper, into your very core. You begin to question your value, your worthiness and ask yourself "What's wrong with me?" This feeling just sits there--like this huge, but somehow heavy hole in your innermost being. Pretty soon, it makes you afraid to keep putting yourself out there. Your self esteem and self confidence take a nose dive as well. You start to question everything about yourself.
"Smile more! Look happy! Talk to people! Put yourself out there more! Fake it til you make it!"
I've heard those phrases more times than I care to admit and certainly more than I ever needed to hear them. They never helped. It just made me feel worse. Jesus didn't preach a "fake it til you make it" message. Yet, most of the time these phrases were coming from other Christians. Even those I considered "leaders" or authority on spiritual matters. Those words only did more damage. I was in a place where I was looking for answers, help, empathy, guidance, tools.... compassion and all I got was how badly my "attitude" effected others and that was why I didn't have friends and no one wanted to talk to me.
What if your life is such a colossal mess, with one crisis after another and you're doing good to just BE somewhere other than your bed or your couch? What if putting yourself out there is literally the monumental feat, at the time, of being in a different location other than your home address????? What if you used up all the physical, mental and emotional energy you could muster just to get yourself ready, your kids ready and make it from home to Point B?????
I'm not ashamed to say I've been in that place. Merely existing. My life as an adult has been terribly messy, with many crises, traumas and upheavals to my status quo that were not of my doing but were caused by someone else's actions. I didn't always handle them well. I wish I could say I had responded with grace, with calmness, with an ability to keep it together--but I'd be lying. I'm not sure anyone handles traumatic events with ease. They may put on the "fake it til you make it" face for the world but on the inside they are in immense emotional pain. I never did have much of a poker face and I'm done apologizing for it too. It can literally threaten your physical well being and health to shove down emotions that you need to deal with and process. If you keep shoving those hard emotions down, it breaks you.
"A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones" Proverbs 17:22
I've been very depressed, sad, grief stricken, betrayed and rejected over and over again. It has definitely left its scars and it has changed me. I can't count the number of times it was all I could do to get myself and my kids somewhere we needed to be. Once there, I felt like I had accomplished something HUGE for the day, but no one else knew that because no one asked me how I was doing or what was going on. I could not have forced a smile on my face even for money. I had no energy to do so. Have you ever been so down, that even smiling was just too much? That you needed to conserve what little energy you had in order to do what was absolutely necessary? I have. In those days, it was making sure I got up out of bed and took care of my kids. Those were my priorities, not sparing someone else from my pain and making sure all they saw was a smile on my face. Jesus meets us right we are, in the ugly, ugly messes of life. Christians are called to do the same for others, whether they are a Believer or not. The problem I see is that most people calling themselves followers of Christ are acting the least like him and choosing to forget about the pain and suffering He came to alleviate AND that He works THROUGH us. But only if we allow it.
Sufferers are often forgotten by the celebrators. People will choose to not hear, or even become tone deaf--hearing, but offering no help. Instead there is only judgement, condemnation and criticism. Human beings are better at inflicting pain on others than they are at enduring it, whether it's their own or someone else's. Humans would often rather hurt others, even someone already in pain, than to feel the hurt.
But everyone suffers from the blows of life.
Some allow it to destroy them.
Others learn from it and choose to grow. We don't allow our suffering to be in vain.
Whether we acknowledge it or choose to deny it, traumatic events WILL happen in our lives and the lives of every person we come in contact with over the course of living. Trauma causes a tremendous shaking in every aspect of life, things shift. The pain can be so deep, so consuming that many people will choose to never hope again, never dream again, never love again and certainly never take another chance that life could be better. They withdraw, isolate themselves, seeking safety and certainty.
When you meet someone like that, you have a chance to help them, to minister to, comfort, to encourage and to remind them of their value and worth. You have a chance to LISTEN. Most of the time, listening is what they really need. The human need to be HEARD is so great that is often associated with feeling loved.
You can be that last straw that breaks them and pushes them towards darkness. Just as it's a choice to let the trauma consume you, it's also a choice to help someone or not. You might be the person that they need right there, right then. And I'll tell you a little secret, if you find yourself with someone who is obviously hurting, chances are YOU are the person that has been sent to bring that element of human comfort and contact. So, quit looking around as if YOU are the one in need of saving. You will miss out on an opportunity to bless someone and be blessed. There is something very amazing about the feeling you get when you help someone out of a dark place. It's one the most rewarding experiences, next to giving birth, that I've ever experienced in my life.
You aren't here to ignore the suffering of others, to turn your back, close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and skip away singing "Lalalalalalala". You are here as an emissary of God's love, to help relieve the suffering of others, not add to it. We are to help each other realize our full potential and purpose. We are supposed to run the race together.
When I was at my darkest, there was not a single human being there for me. My pain was "too much" for them to bare. It was too uncomfortable, too intense, too messy. For a long time, I did not know what to do. I went through the motions of life but I was on auto-pilot most of the time. I turned off my pain in order to deal with life and in doing so, I also turned off what makes me human. Our emotions are part of who we are, placed in us by our Creator, God. If we are to believe that we our made in His image, then emotions are part of that image and they are modeled after HIS OWN EMOTIONS. Let that sink in.
God, our creator, probably experiences emotions on a whole different level from us. To be human is to experience everything that makes us human, and that includes emotions. The problem doesn't lie in having them, the problem is the lack of training, or teaching, on them and how to handle them from a biblical standpoint. Simple telling someone "Don't run your life by how you feel." is not enough instruction on how to deal with really tough situations, traumatic events, hurts and loss that we are all bound to experiences in our lives, often more than once.
I am no longer in that dark, lonely, desolate place in my mind. I found my way out, I'm nearly to the top. I still have some work to do on me. I still feel pretty lonely, in the natural, in dealing with the events of my life and what has brought me to this point, but in the spiritual, I've grown and have a closer relationship with God. I won't ever deny that some good things came out of my suffering but I do think that a better job can be done by Christians and Churches, as a whole to help people who are in a bad place, emotionally speaking. Obviously, if professional help is needed, then seek that. There is only so much a Pastor or a fellow Believer can do for someone in real crisis; I'm not suggesting that we should take the place of professional therapists/counselors when those are needed because we do need to know our limits BUT, we also need to stop ignoring the needs of those seeking answers. We need to stop expecting those who are hurting to make us feel better by not showing us their pain.
Something else I've learned from all of my struggles, is that I don't want anyone to ever feel as lonely, rejected, ignored and forgotten as I have felt, and still do at times. I found a passion that I either didn't know I had, or that grew from my own situation. If you are someone who is hurting and you need someone who will listen, remind you of your value, that you have a purpose, that this pain doesn't define you and who will help you find your way out... then please reach out! I can't promise to have all the answers, but I won't turn my back on you. I will also help you find resources in your area, whether you are local to me or not. You don't have to struggle alone.
P.S. Don't be afraid to reach out to someone who you know is going through a tough situation especially if they keep coming to mind. That is most likely the Holy Spirit prompting you to make contact, you have something they need or you will have it when you need it. I also know, all too well, that some people like to play the role of victim like it's their job. Still, don't be afraid, if you rely on the Holy Sprit, He will definitely tell you if you need to walk away, distance yourself or protect yourself from someone who just isn't ready for healing. There will always be people who might take advantage of you, just use common sense and your Helper as your guide.