MISS MOOX + time


Rejection must be one of the most wounding experiences any human being can suffer. To be cast out by another human being, scorned, insulted, the possibility of a relationship spurned because somehow you are not good enough surely has to be the most painful emotion.

Rejection has a twin cousin, betrayal. Betrayal is the highest form of rejection: with the insidious twist that someone close to you, someone intimate with you, someone whom you believed loved you and cared for you, turns on you in hatred or abuse. The highest example is probably the spouse who cheats. It's worse than simple rejection because it carries with it the force of shock: I can't believe you're doing this to me, I thought you loved me, how could you treat me this way. It's a killer, emotionally and sometimes, literally.

All of us have experienced rejection in one form or another. Maybe it was on the playground, when we weren't chosen for the team. Or when the "cool" group at school wouldn't let us hang with them. Maybe our parents hated us or never thought we were good enough. My first conscious experience of rejection came as an eight-year-old at summer camp. A homeschooled oddity from a distinctly weird family, living in my own world because I had no group of peers to shape me, I was hated and ridiculed by the other girls. The entire week was an experience of rejection that left me wary of peer groups for years to come.

Later on, as a shy, awkward, depressed teenager, I felt rejected by those my own age whom I considered "cool". Painfully introverted and fearful, living in a small town where I didn't go to school, I had little opportunity to make friends. Boys were distinctly intimidating, though I'd hung out with them and played sports with them throughout most of my pre- and early-teen years. I felt ugly and unwanted, without the confidence to befriend others, though I longed for closeness.

But probably the deepest and ugliest form of rejection came from my father. A harsh, controlling and abusive man, he made me believe that I was worthless, never good enough to merit his approval, much less his love. He was distant and uninvolved part of the time, violently and irrationally angry the rest. I hated and feared him and at an age when I desperately longed for my father's love, his treatment closed my heart against him.

After I left home, for years this was put behind me. I was fortunate enough to fall in with Christians, go to a Christian college, be embraced by a warm and loving church (another story). But still I fenced my heart off from close involvement. I had few or no close friends to whom I divulged what was really going on inside me. The only person I trusted was the man who became my surrogate father, offering me the warmth and acceptance I'd always craved from my biological dad. I never allowed boys my own age to come too close. Although I had plenty of male friendships, whenever one showed signs of developing into something more, I put up the "No entry" signs so quickly that none of them had a chance. I was determined to protect myself, to keep my heart to myself so that I'd never hurt again. Close relationships, trust, meant pain, and I didn't want it.

But this summer, somehow, one of those boys managed to crash through those barriers. Do you believe in love at first sight? I felt a deep and instant connection to him, and somehow he slipped through. His confidence and attractiveness, coupled with reassurance that he loved me and wouldn't hurt me, intrigued my scarred and wounded heart enough to make me believe that maybe this was a chance. It's not that I didn't try to rebel against it; I did my best to push him away. But he persisted, and I believed him. More fool me? Maybe. But it was what in my heart of hearts I wanted, despite my resistance.

I know now it was meant to be. It was part of a greater purpose wielded by somebody far more powerful and more loving than that boy. He wanted to win my heart even more than that guy did, and was willing to do exactly what he had to do to accomplish it.

The relationship ended with the shock of betrayal. Hurt and astonished by something he did, and his refusal to apologize when confronted by it, I felt that I had no choice but to end it. I cried for days. Despite my certainty that I'd done the right thing, I called him a few days later to talk. I wanted to patch things up, I wanted to sort them out, I wanted to discuss getting back together. He didn't, didn't want to talk, finally became harsh and abusive and in one painful confrontation said words that still sting, told me he didn't even want to be friends and he never wanted to talk to me again.

I've written about it in earlier posts, but it had the effect of a verbal nuclear bomb. I don't give my heart easily, but when I do, I give it all, and despite the fact that I knew that we shouldn't be together, I still loved and cared for him. I'd hoped that if we couldn't be together as a couple, we could at least be friends. When somebody rejects that completely, and goes from vowing love to you to protesting hatred, cutting off the possibility of any kind of relationship, it's a vitriolic shock.

That episode got me to thinking. A lot. And ultimately it was used for a lot of good. But what it made me realize, which hit home with almost an equal force of shock as the event, was this:

Betrayal is probably the most painful of human emotions. But Jesus experienced it. One of his disciples, Judas, a man who'd followed and lived with him and served him and sat at his feet and apparently loved him, betrayed him. To death. Not only that, Peter, one of his closest friends and a member of the "inner three" of disciples, denied even knowing him in his final hour. Imagine being betrayed by a friend, given up to death, undergoing trial and torture, and yet another friend, one of your closest, denies acquaintance. Then Jesus went through the deepest darkness of rejection by his own Father as he carried the sins of the world. It must have been like acid thrown over his soul.

I realized that Jesus had shared in betrayal, and understood it, but not only that: I also realized that that is what I had done to him.

We're not used to thinking of God with emotions. We're not used to thinking of him as a person, who thinks and feels as we do. Much less are we used to thinking of our treatment of him as capable of affecting his emotions. Yet in the aftermath of my boyfriend's rejection, I understood: I had done the exact same thing to God.

I loved my boyfriend. I longed for relationship with him. I longed to patch up the problems, I longed to be close to him, I longed to make things right, and if we couldn't be together, at least to be friends. I genuinely wanted his welfare and hoped I could somehow be involved in his life.

But he wanted none of it. In fact, he ended up by hating me and pushing me out of his life altogether. He rejected even the possibility of a cordial relationship, wounding me deeply. None of my outreaches to him affected or changed his mind.

And I had done that to God. Finally, I understood.

God loved me. God longed for relationship with me. God kept on reaching out to me, showing me through people and circumstance his love for me. I knew he wanted to be close to me. I knew he wanted my surrender. I knew he wanted access to my heart. He wanted to befriend me, to know me intimately, for me to love him back and to long for his presence.

And I refused.

I shut God out. I did it consciously and willfully. I knew he was trying to break in and I kept him out. Due to past hurt, I didn't want to yield to protect myself. I hardened my heart and refused to give in to his advances. I hated him, accused him of ruining my life and deliberately hurting me, and I told him to "F--- off" more than once. I knew he was real, but I didn't want him.

After going through the same thing with my boyfriend, I finally understood. I understood the pain God must have felt as he reached out to me again and again and again and watched me slap his hand away every time.

I knew. And I never wanted to do it again.

He had loved me all along. Same as I loved that boy. He cared, and he never gave up.

I'm more thankful than I can ever be able to say. And he won, in the end.

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Relevant to: Betrayal + time