Maybe it’s not about you…
Week 5 of Cultivate Book Club Fall 2016
Chapters 7 & 8 of Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst
Recently I was rejected. It wasn’t this BIG blow up, rather the silent but deadly type. Slowly but surely I stopped receiving replies to my text messages, there was no more “hey let’s…” grab coffee, do yoga, go shopping… all the ways we used to connect. At first~ I thought it was just coincidence. They’re really busy with this project they have going on. Now it’s the holidays, Christmas~ everyone’s busy at Christmas right?! Spring break~ same, and now it’s summer. Traveling in the summer… that’s it!
BUT THEN… Good Ol’e Instagram. A truth teller of sorts! Ohhhh, hey… there they are with that friend. I guess they DO have time, they just don’t have time for ME! OHHH the sting of rejection.
I admit I gave it WAY to much space in my head.
Do any of you ever do this… you spend some much time thinking about the people that don’t want to be with you that you totally forget about and neglect all of the people who do? What even is this about us?!
Of course I did what any mature 40 something would do… I totally let it go. Never gave it a second thought. Moved on in complete peace. NO I DIDN’T.
I spun about it. Combed through our last few interactions and conversations. What did I say? Did I make a joke they took seriously? Was I too much? Not enough?
Finally I concluded that “so & so” is just better than me so of course it makes perfect sense that they had time for them and not me. It was because they were off having so much fun together every single day all day long (inferred of course from IG post) that there was no more room or space for me. I didn’t matter. I wasn’t ______________ enough (A. fun, B. smart, C. interesting, D. all of the above). It hurt, but of course I smiled and pretended it didn’t because I didn’t want to add needy and overly emotional to the list. AND then I pulled my heart back in… in to that safe place where I don’t let others see the real me. Bars up. Doors locked. Heart back in it’s safe place~in lockdown. When my heart’s in lockdown I can actually operate much better because I don’t feel at risk because it’s got it’s full body armor on. When my heart is in full body armor I am able to still be kind and have friendly exchanges, but I do not fully engage. I risk nothing, expect nothing, accept the loss.
AND… wouldn’t you know it~ here came one of those friendly exchanges when I least expected it. Here’s how this went…
Her: “Hey, do you have a minute to talk?”
Me: “Yes of course. What’s going on?” It honestly didn’t occur to me that this talk was going to be about us, I assumed it was going to be about how I could pray for her, or help her with something going on in her life because that’s what I do as the pastor’s wife… which I’M SO HAPPY TO DO because I love people and I have a heart for them, and even if we aren’t best friends I still care about what’s going on in their lives and want to help or pray in any way I can. Ok back to the story.
Her: “I owe you an apology”.
Me: “For what?” And I sincerely meant this because although I was hurt, she hadn’t technically done anything wrong. Not wanting to be friends isn’t something to apologize for. It’s not a crime, or a rule broken… it just is what it is.
Her: “I completely cut you off. Rejected you. Rejected our friendship”
Me: “I’m not mad, you don’t owe me an apology. It hurt and I was sad, but you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s OK if you don’t want to be friends with me. You have that right. it’s ok. ”
Her: “That’s the thing. I DID want to be friends. I DO. The thing is, the more we were becoming friends, the more I felt at risk. At risk that if we were friends, you have all these other friends, and I was afraid that you’d want to choose them over me. And I knew I just couldn’t handle the rejection.”
Me: “Wait. What?”
Her: “I’ve been rejected so many times in friendships before. I know how this goes, and so to protect myself I had to completely back out of our friendship before you had the chance to reject me.”
Me: “Wait, What?”
FOR MONTHS I’d made it all about ME! I’d played over everything I “might” have done or said wrong. Everything that wasn’t fun or special or good enough about me. All the reasons they’d had to, of course, not choose me. MONTHS! I did this for MONTHS! And you know what… NEVER, not one time did any of what she said occur to me in the dozens of scenarios that I’d played out in my mind, the conclusions I’d come to about myself or the situation, not did any of it involve HER being afraid of being rejected by ME. Her feeling not _______ enough. Her being sad. Wait. WHAT? I was so confused.
It had never even occurred to me the issues rooted in rejection that she was bringing to the table. Never. I only thought about me and mine. Of course this was all about ME. Except that it wasn’t. Not at all.
At first I felt relieved. But then I felt curious. Curious about other situations and circumstances and relational fall outs that I’ve experienced rejection in, I wondered if there were ever other times that maybe it also wasn’t all about ME? Other times I’d made it about me, made assumptions, pulled my heart back into safety, protected myself from being hurt, put on the body armor, let a relationship die… all for a lie I had created and believed when I made it about me.
And so here’s the thing, the thing I learned (or should I say~ the thing I’m learning)… if we’re going to cultivate the practice of living loved, we’re going to have to practice being curious too. Curious about other people. Curious about their stories, their background, their wiring. Curious about what they’re bringing to the table. We have to remember we’re not the only ones bringing our stuff to the situation.
I love how Lysa Terkerst says in chapter 8 of Uninvited that “relationships don’t come in packages of perfection, relationships come in packages of potential”. If we practice being real with ourselves then we already KNOW what we’re bringing to the table when it comes to friendship, what we too often forget is that the person sitting across from us at the table of friendship is also bringing their own fears of rejection, insecurity, imperfection, need for grace.
As our conversation went on, I feel like I got to know my friend somewhat for the first time despite the fact that we’ve sorta been friends for several years. She shared about her childhood and friendship interactions growing up, her family experiences, and how rejection has taught her that eventually you are always left. NONE of which had anything to do with ME. Go figure.
Hmmmm, SO… it’s not always about ME… There’s a new concept! And I’m guessing some of the rejection you’ve experienced wasn’t about you either. So be careful friends… careful about what conclusions you draw about yourself when you feel rejected. Conclusions that you aren’t ________ enough. Because when you do this you’re creating and believing a lie in regards to who you are and your worthiness of love and acceptance. We begin to veer off from who we are that we’ve decided isn’t ________ enough and begin trying to be whatever it is that we believe we need to be to be ________ enough to be picked, liked, popular, accepted, loved. We become an imposter version of ourselves and who we think we’re supposed to be instead of the real version of who we are. When we do this we’re polluting ourselves and our relationships, and cheating the world out of who God made us to be. The real version of who we are is exactly who this world needs to know.
I believed I wasn’t ______ enough for my friend. She believed she wasn’t ________ enough for me. We were both wrong. We now both understand that neither needs to be perfect, and that there’s so much potential between us as long as we live loved rather than rejected~ believing that what we bring to the table has more good than garbage, more potential than poison, more life than death because grace fills in the cracks. Grace for ourselves, grace for each other, grace from God.
Here’s what I want you to absorb this week, the statement I want you to hold on to…
“We can learn to live loved by recognizing that
the rejection we experience affects us but may not be about us.”
Live loved friends,
This week’s small group discussion & journal questions:
- What were your biggest takeaways from chapters 7 & 8?
- After seeing how Abigail responded to rejection, Is it possible that in some of the rejections you’ve experienced in the past that maybe the rejection had to do more with what was going on in that person than what wasn’t “good enough” about you?
- When an opportunity arises~ do you tend to be a person to de escalate or instigate conflict?
- If you can think of one, share a rejection experience that you can now see had more to do with THAT person’s past rejection experiences than to do with your current situation? Is there a lie about yourself you’ve held onto that you need to confess and let go in light of this new perspective?
- Read Proverbs 15:1. How has a soft answer from someone changed the course of your actions or your response in a tense situation?
- Spend some time praying together as you cultivate these truths into your lives.