“Take the helmet of Salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of Godâ€¦” Ephesians 6: 17 (NIV)
Shhh. Come close, I have a secret to share. Ready? Here it is. Not everyone likes me. Not a shocker? I didnâ€™t think so. Reality. Itâ€™s harsh. And as a recovering people pleaser, my skin isnâ€™t very thick. I know that it is trendy to be strong and blow away insults with a single confident puff followed by a quick hair toss, but thatâ€™s not me. And truth be told, I donâ€™t think that is suppose to be me either. My heart is tender. Nurturing is my nature.
While bundling a reptilian tough fabric around my feelings isnâ€™t Godâ€™s design for me, neither are my current methods for handling situations that leave me feeling vulnerable and unworthy. This past week, through several different circumstances, I felt as though God whispered in my ear, â€œWe are going to deal with the issue of rejection for once and for all.â€ When my gut reaction was to think Oh, no, I donâ€™t want to go there, He replied, â€œAngela, sweetheart, you live there. You need to get out of that run down shack for good. Now, pick up your chin and letâ€™s get moving.â€
And move we did. In fact, weâ€™re still moving and itâ€™s not a care free stroll along the beach. Itâ€™s a grueling climb on a frozen, rocky terrain. And I ache. From deep within, I ache. I have been lugging around tattered suitcases bursting with rejection for nearly as many years as I have been alive. Now is not the time to share them all with you, but here are a few:
- The teacher who made fun of me for being unable to see the chalk board from my seat in the back row.
- The classmates who taunted me.
- The boy who told me that I would never be more than second place.
- The best friend who tossed me aside when she felt that our friendship would halt her climb up the social ladder.
- The college professor who told me that my voice reminded him of a little girl trapped inside a tin box.
- The young man who broke my heart after giving me a list of reasons why he could never love me.
These are old wounds that have no place in my life. In fact, God, in His infinite and holy wisdom has already shown me the beauty that arose from those difficult blows. And that beauty, which includes my steadfast husband and two precious children, is stunning.
Those periods of rejection arenâ€™t something on which I frequently dwell. But they do crop up, especially when confronted with the reality in the old adage â€œYou canâ€™t please all of the people all of the time.â€ But I want to. And when I donâ€™tâ€¦I want to know why I failed.
I bet you thought I was never going to tie this into the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit did you? You know what? I didnâ€™t either until a few minutes ago. Here is what I am learning and let me just say at the risk of sounding like a loon, thirty minuets ago I was weeping and right now I am smiling because nothing, and I mean nothing, is better than the freedom that comes from truth.
If I am going to fight battles of the spiritual nature, I have got to get it through my head (hence the helmet) that my salvation is the key to victory. It is the victory. If I am worthy of the King of Kings, I am worthy of the time from any fellow earth dweller. If the only sinless man, the very son of God who bore a rejection like I have never known or will ever know, shed His pristine blood for me, then through Him and only through Him, I count. And not just a fraction.
And how do I know this? By yielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the very word of God. As my four-year-old told a little friend yesterday, â€œI know God loves everybody, itâ€™s in the Bible. Thatâ€™s Godâ€™s word and itâ€™s the whole truth!”
â€œI know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust himâ€”with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation. â€œ 1 Peter 1:6-9 (The Message)
Does this mean, Iâ€™ll never feel the sting of rejection again? Of course not. Iâ€™m human. I hurt. And no matter how hard I try not to, Iâ€™m going to rub some people the wrong way. There will be those who think Iâ€™m trivial, quirky, and down right weird. And just because Iâ€™m worthy of Prince Charlesâ€™ royal time, doesnâ€™t mean Iâ€™ll be invited to Buckingham palace.
But thatâ€™s OK because just as there was a broken road (thank you Rascall Flatts) that led me to my professor, there was a broken road that led our Lord to Calvary. And because of His love, the broken, rugged, road I now walk will one day lead me to a palace that no man has ever seen. And when I enter that glorious kingdom, I shall ache no more.