"Breaking up is hard to do" the song says. At least that is what I have been told and seen in movie after movie. I did not date much before I met my husband. I actually think I was only on two dates ever unless you count those group dates in college where you find your roommate a date and then you go ice skating or on a scavenger hunt with a group of 20 other "couples" on their awkward date. Since my husband and I never broke up during our dating months, I don't have any experience with breaking up personally. But I have definitely had my fair share of rejection.
In high school, someone told someone else that I said something I never said. It was high school so there was no fact checking. It was like the French Revolution and all those people being sent to the guillotine without trials. I was cut off with one quick slice from that whole group of friends. I was rejected not only by the person I supposedly "hurt" but I was also rejected by all our mutual friends. As I have grown older I have experienced all forms of friendship rejection. From friends growing apart slowly over time, to a friend deciding you don't fit in their life anymore. I am certainly not innocent in this department. I am sure I have hurt many people as my life changed or my wanting to separate myself from someone because of reasons I was not willing to share. Whether it is a quick friendship break up or a friend slowly pulling away from me, it hurts. Knowing someone does not want to be my friend hurts. Even if time is the deciding factor, it still hurts to no longer be on someone's priority list.
I think for me though, my greatest rejection has come at the hands of the people who are supposed to always be there for you. The parents who raised you and are supposed to love you, care for you and make you a priority in their lives. As a child and as an adult, my parents have had other things get in the way of their parenting. Some were their own choices, some were beyond their ability to control, but either way, I was left behind or pushed aside or ignored. No matter the reason, parents ignoring you and your kids hurts.
Rejection hurts. I wish it didn't. I wish I could protect myself from the pain of rejection. I wish it didn't matter. I try to convince myself that I don't care anymore and for the most part I really am able to detach myself. But then the holidays come, gifts are discussed, phone calls are made to get together, and then it is January 8th and I am having to track down the hockey sticks someone has told me they were going to give the kids for Christmas. It sounds silly I know. They are just hockey sticks. Hockey sticks I was willing to go buy myself. But it isn't about the gifts or the traditional ornaments that came almost two weeks after the tree was taken down. It was about the boys who love looking at their ornaments and hanging them on the tree. It was about the boys who for some reason were not important enough to get them their gifts, which were purchased before Christmas, to them until weeks after Christmas. It is about knowing that grown ups were making choices to spend their time with lots of other people, doing lots of other things, instead of taking the time to give the gifts they asked me about and planned with me to my boys.
Rejection hurts and I don't like to hurt. But I am learning that really loving others opens me up to rejection. I used to protect myself by staying detached but that is not the life I want to live or the life God calls me to when He says,
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27I want to love my neighbor but I want to protect myself. I am not sure I can do both. And if I can't do both, then I think I know what I must do, even though I don't want to.
I think I must love my neighbor.