Unbidden tears trickled down my face.
I was writing in a coffee shop, and a man said he would meet me as soon as he finished his business. Hours went by without hearing from him. And so I packed up my laptop and gave myself permission to sob all the way home.
After three years of widowhood, I thought I was ready to date and maybe even consider getting married again. A roller coaster came to a stop, and I boarded one of the cars. Over the next year or two, that carnival ride took me up and down and all around in loop-de-loops of rejection and indecision.
“I think I can do this.”
And then, “Um, no. This feels like I’m back in high school.”
There were those soaring moments of fun, followed by the dips into frustration and anxiety and scary red flags. (I say scary because I didn’t recognize them as such, and that’s alarming.)
I Felt Rejected
Later that year, I had the opportunity to meet a retired man who spent half his time in a third world country doing good. I told my matchmaking girlfriend that I was undecided about dating again. “But I’d love to interview him to tell his story,” I said.
He and I met for a couple hours at a local tea shop. It was easy conversation as I typed and he answered my questions. This man, with his generous and kind heart, was making a difference in the world.
After a few emails back and forth with edits on the article, I let him know his story was posted. And then I added: “Someday I’d love to see the operation on the Africa end … but only if I can be of help and not in the way.” It was my effort at keeping my heart open to see what, if anything, God might have in mind for a friendship with this man.
And then I hit SEND.
He responded later that evening: “Wow, you really nailed it! Thanks for the opportunity to get the story out. I think you would be blown away by the people there … someday maybe.”
Someday. Maybe. Which means probably not.
How Women React to Rejection
And so I did what so many of us women do when we (or our ideas) are rejected: I started laying the foundation for a brick wall around my heart. As a protective measure. That wall didn’t rise very tall before I came to my senses and removed the bricks, one at a time. This I know: The wisest thing is to keep our hearts open and available to God, and to the potential of someone else in the future.
And then another meddling—I mean—well-intentioned girlfriend encouraged me to meet a single male friend of hers. He and I enjoyed conversation over coffee and Chai tea, followed by a handful of fun dates. And then he called one early morning and, just like that, it was over. There was no full-on heartbreak, of course. But there was some slight bruising. Because rejection causes a woman to question whether who she is and what she has to offer carries any value.
“Dear Matchmaker,” I prayed, “I’m not asking that you make a match for me. I’m asking that you keep me from falling for a man who wouldn’t be your first and best choice for me. Because I am a susceptible woman—susceptible to male friendship and camaraderie and coffee dates and joking around and discussing deeper things. This is what I’ve been longing for.”
Relationships are so complicated. People are so complicated. People make relationships so complicated. If we could just remove people from the equation …
“Dear Matchmaker,” I prayed, “I’m not asking that you make a match for me. I’m asking that you keep me from falling for a man who wouldn’t be your first and best choice for me.”
There Is Hope After Rejection
Annie F. Downs, an author and podcaster, interviewed a young woman, Jenn Jett, whose husband asked for a divorce as she was beginning to launch a ministry, Camp Well. Jenn stood up in front of 40 women at the first Camp Well conference just a few weeks later, believing the lie that she was unqualified to be there. “I just leaned in and went, assuming it would be the one and only Camp Well.”
But God had other plans for Jenn’s heartbreak and uncertainty.
Jenn and the Camp Well staff—yes, there’s a full staff now—are passionate about creating space to gather the women who are dreamers and doers and entrepreneurs to help untangle the things that might be distorting their vision or creating burnout. From Jenn’s rejection grew this beautiful concept of women supporting women in a nurturing environment against the backdrop of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Now that Jenn was happily remarried, Annie asked, “What have you learned about yourself in this marriage that you didn’t know?”
“I am actually a good wife,” Jenn answered. “For 15 years, I really believed that I wasn’t lovable, that I wasn’t good at loving, that intimacy-wise I was broken. God has restored all that to me in this marriage. And it’s been really kind.”
Rejection Hurts, but It Can Lead to Something Better
As a writer, I’ve had multiple opportunities to experience rejection after submitting magazine articles and online web articles and contest entries and book proposals. With each rejected piece, this message was stamped upon my heart and soul: “You can’t write.”
Which wasn’t the truth. But it’s what I said to myself.
In time, I learned how to manage rejection. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting. It simply means I came to understand that I am called to write and that the particular literary agent, or publishing house, or magazine wasn’t a fit for my work. It means there’s something better for the article or book. Or there’s a better article or book to come out of the rejection.
It’s the same with relational dismissal. My slight bruising inflicted by a few different men was a good and perfect gift from God. It was Steve Maraboli who said, “Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.”
Take Heart, Here’s the Truth About Rejection
When rejection muscles its way in and tries to lie to us, here’s the truth: I am enough. You are enough. We are exactly who God created us to be. Our size and shape, our skin tone, the number of freckles, our eye color and hair texture—God made no mistakes with any of these assets. Our skills and abilities, our gifts and passions, there is nothing accidental about us. Everything is with intention. On purpose. With purpose.
If anyone rejects who you are or what you have to offer this world, then they were not the one for you or your heart, your discoveries, your designs. God has something better. God has someone better.
There are those who will appreciate you for who you are. They will value your music, your wisdom and insight, your leadership skills, your artistry, your kindness and love.
Wait for them, because they’re looking for you.
If anyone rejects who you are or what you have to offer this world, then they were not the one for you. God has something better. God has someone better.
Maybe you too have been on the receiving end of a man’s rejection. You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life on finding the right men to date and avoiding unnecessary heartbreak: Dating? What to Look for in a Man – 073