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Overcoming Rejection: What Good Can Come from It?

  • Kevin East
    Kevin East is the President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Texas. He formerly served Pine Cove Camps as their Executive Director of Ministries. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect… More
  • 2012 Jun 19

Let's be honest; life isn't fair.  We've all had those experiences of being rejected.  For some, it was simply boyfriends or girlfriends in years gone past.  But for others, the painful experiences cut much deeper.

When it comes to rejection, I've had my fair share.  If I counted how many girls in the past that have broken my heart, I'm sure I'd reach double digits.  Looking back, those memories are now "cute".    There is one time that sticks out more than the others.

I was a senior in high school and wanted to attend Baylor University.  My girlfriend decided to go there, and I wanted to become a "Bear" as well.  I applied.  Waited.  And then finally got a letter in the mail.  It began:

"Dear Kevin:

You have complimented Baylor University by your interest and application for admission, and we sincerely appreciate it.  your application has been given careful consideration by our Admissions Committee, but it was not approved." [Emphasis mine.]

I know that paragraph verbatim because once I got the letter, I framed it.  My reason?  It was one of the first times in my life I felt God's clear direction in my life.  Other friends of mine had been accepted, yet their grades weren't as good as mine.  But God's hand was on me, directing my steps.  Baylor was not for me.

As opposed to letting rejection simply crush our souls, let's consider how God uses it in our lives.

1. Rejection causes us to draw close to Him. Years ago, a pastor friend of mine asked a girl I knew this question: What if God led you into something for the sole reason of breaking your heart?   Would you be willing to follow Him?  She thought about it and then admitted she didn't think she would.

My pastor friend's point was that Christ's power is perfected in our weakness, not our strength.  When we go through rejection, we look for those stable areas in our lives.  For those who know God as their "Rock of refuge," they run to Him.

2. Rejection decreases the options. Many people get stalled out in life because they can't make a decision.  What job should they aim for?  Should they relocate cities?  What school should they look at for their kids?  When a door closes, that is a good thing.  One less option to worry about.

3. Rejection forces us to open our eyes.  Have you ever figured out the plans for your life, and sat back to watch them unfold, just the way you wanted them to?  Been there, done that.  And then rejection happens.  You are caught standing on your heels.  Rejection causes you to consider different possibilities, some of which you have never looked at before.  It might not be want you wanted - or even expected - but the Gospel is built on "plan B."

4. Rejection allows us to get clear perspective. I am amazed how often I realize I am standing on an escalator in life, just gliding through with little effort.  Life is unfolding before me, and I am going wherever it leads.  When I go through rejection, though, it allows me to see that the escalator is actually a treadmill, and I am in the middle of getting nowhere fast.

Once I understand that I can sit back, lick my wounds, and begin to pray through what God has in store for me.  Without the "wake up call" of rejection, I might continue drifting through life.  Years pass, and at some point I end up looking back on my life and seeing all the unfulfilled possibilities of my past.  Rejection can be the start button on a fresh pot of coffee, that causes our eyes to open and see a little more clearly.

Nobody wants to go through rejection.  I sure don't.  But I sure am glad I didn't go to Baylor.  There are millions of little roads I took after that letter arrived in my mailbox which got me to where I am today.  I look back at the faded letter now and smile that God is much bigger than I give Him credit for.

Plus, Baylor has never won a National Championship.  Geaux Tigers. (LSU Alumni)

Have you ever seen the good come from your experience of being rejected?

If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.