A little while ago, all my rejection baggage made an awful, embarrassing appearance...
There's this friend. We've been very close. Close enough that she knows most of my skeletons by name. She's heard most of the gory details. She's been one of my trusteds that I can share the worst, garbage-y, sinful stuff with, be really raw with, and still feel safe and loved. She knows my quirks, my weaknesses, and still thinks I'm funny and fun. Awesome, I know.
Well, for whatever reason, this friend has slowly but surely backed off. We've had the "I miss you. Where've you been?" conversation several times over the last year or so and there were valid reasons and assurances given. The last time we had that heart-to-heart I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that she was "breaking up" with me. Moving on. She had outgrown me or we'd grown apart or something. But then, I would say to myself anytime I thought that way,
"That's ridiculous. You both love each other. She's just busy. It doesn't mean anything. Stop being so needy!"Then, there was just no doubt about it. I went through an incredibly important, stressful time, a time when I really needed the support of my people... and she wasn't there. After a while, I reached out. I texted, called, left messages. Nothing. A couple of Instagram and Facebook "likes".
Here's the truth that took a while to fully formulate: After making all the excuses, blowing it off, delaying dealing with my feelings, and hoping I was just imagining being rejected, I had to finally acknowledge that I was sooo sad and shocked to have such a dear friend just drift away with no explanation. I was crushed. Genuine grief settled in. I was waking up in the middle of the night. I wasn't eating well. I was immediately weepy whenever she came to mind. I felt achy and tired and just sad all over.
If there's one thing I've learned from my husband, it's that chasing someone who doesn't want you only breeds their disdain, so I didn't chase. I just grieved and walked through it with the Lord.
Recently, though, there was a big event on my church campus. I study and write there regularly so I'd parked myself in the café and was about to jump on a two-hour video-conference with my work team. This meeting was just about to start when I realized,
Ohmygosh! I bet so-and-so is here! I'd better race home for the meeting because, good grief (literally!), I'm not ready to run into her and not be a basketcase... and looked up and there she was.By the time she was walking towards me, I realized there was no holding back and I was brimming with tears. We embraced. She said, "You look like you're about to cry..." and I gushed ridiculously, "I am about to cry. I am so sorry. I just miss you so much. I can't really talk about this right now. I just miss you so much." And, she made a hasty exit from the wild, weeping lady. Lawd-have-mercy, it was awful.
There are a few benchmark rejection episodes I've had to bring before the Lord and just beg Him to perform divine surgery on because they're so wretched and painful. I knew on the spot that this poor, dear woman wasn't responsible for all of this pain. Any more than a skier at the top of a mountain is responsible for the avalanche below...
She'd just accidentally tapped on God's loud-speaker in my life:
Laurie, whose approval, love, affection, attention, devotion, and commitment is going to give you worth, security, and value? Mine or man's? Who do you really need - other people or Me?For the next two hours, I was trapped on a video-call doing my best to not ugly-cry (as the occasional tear streamed down my face) and this dear woman was right out the window sitting with other friends -- really cool friends. More awful.
The thing is... This friend is a wonderful person. I love her. She loves Jesus, she's smart, funny, gregarious, multi-talented, capable, effervescent, godly, genuine, loving, and an all-around delightful person. She didn't do anything wrong. It wasn't her fault that her backing off instigated an avalanche of rejection baggage. That's all on me.
It's hard to walk through separation and divorce with someone. It's messy. Ugly. Painful. Scary. Heck, life in general is hard enough without adding the wreckage and grief of divorce!
So, I reasoned that I have to let go. With all the love in my heart. It's heartbreaking in part because I've had to let go of so much that I've dearly loved and valued these last few years. My backpack is light and my team of warriors is small.
Then, I kind of reevaluated and realized, no, I need to go further than that. I need to live with my palms open, not grasping onto anyone or anything. Just God alone. He's got me. He will never reject me. - Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, 1 Kings 8:57, 1 Chronicles 28:20, Psalm 37:28, Psalm 94:14, Isaiah 41:17, Isaiah 42:16, Hebrews 13:5
What does that mean exactly?
God's not ever going to back off of relationship with me. Or you. Never.
He's never going to choose someone else over you. He's never going to say He'll love you forever and then not love you forever. He's not going to drift away. He's not going to hang with the cool crowd and leave you alone and pathetic. He's going to be there through thick and thin no matter what you do.
Even when you're no longer convenient.
Even when you're messy.
Even when you're sick.
Of "no benefit" to Him.
Even when it's hard.
Really, really, really hard.
Even when no one else in the world does.
When you love someone, you run the risk of them not loving you back. Of them choosing another or others over you. Of them drifting away. Of them selling you out, betraying you. Leaving you high and dry. Of them not caring. Walking away. Shutting you out. Crushing you to smithereens.
During Lent I've been reading the New Testament along with countless people all across the globe. I started out listening in the early morning and reading the same portion in the afternoon. But, I've found that it's just not enough. I can't get enough of the Scriptures.
I can't get enough of Jesus.
The more I read the Word, the more I listen, the more I learn, the more I crave.And, it's this very issue: God, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, who knows all of my skeletons by name, who knows all the gory details, who is the One and only Trusted that I can share the worst, garbage-y, sinful stuff with, be really raw with, and still feel completely safe and 100% loved beyond my wildest hopes and dreams and even my ability to comprehend... He knows every single one of my quirks, my weaknesses, my sins, my weirdnesses, He knows the evil of my heart past, present, and future, and He still thinks I'm funny and fun and loves me. He wants and chases me. And you. Forever. And ever. And ever.
An unmerited avalanche of grace and love.
And, so, even though there's still grief and overwhelming ouchieness, it's ok. There's grace for the friend that walks away without explanation. There's grace in every single relationship lost. Because I've been given so much grace and such a ridiculous display of love from Jesus, how can I not release those whom I thought were with me for the long haul with all the love and forgiveness and good will in my heart?
Avalanche or no avalanche.
I've got Him. And He's got me.