Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lessons Learned from Rejection


I wonder what episode(s) comes to your mind as I ask what are your first experiences with rejection? My memories start in Elementary School, when my “best friend” decided to dump me because he found a new “best friend” This happened so frequently I think of the game musical chairs when I think of the best friends of my youth. Nothing stayed the same for every long. The music plays as everyone circles the empty chairs. When the music stops everyone scrambles for a new seat. There was always one poor soul left standing when everyone else had a seat. There was moment of pain when everyone sitting stared at you as you left the game.  Sometimes in the world of best friend musical chairs, I was one who found a new seat, a new best friend, other times I was the one left standing alone, outside the group.

Fast-forward the clock to dating.  In this arena rejections were terribly painful. You take the risk to ask someone on a date and some women said no. Others who had trouble saying no, said yes, but never showed up. Och! It hurts. It causes you to withdraw and take less risks. Once you begin dating there is also the inevitable break ups, the ones initiated by you, and the ones initiated by the other person who you still like. Break ups always hurt.  I haven’t seen them, but now there are now apps you can download which that help you to break up.  I think I’d feel worse if someone used an app to break my heart. Maybe not, any form of rejections seriously hurts. We often make life time decisions based on our experiences with rejection. We can close off portions of heart, or choose not to trust or get involved with someone or some activity.

I’ve known may people who are what I refer to as “one shotters”. These are people who end relationships the very first time they feel crossed. It doesn’t matter that you’ve enjoyed decades of friendship. One misunderstanding and it’s over. You are thrown out like the trash, forever rejected.

I suspect whenever we face rejection we don’t simply feel the pain of the moment, I believe each new rejection brings on some familiar pain of past rejections, which is why rejection is so very painful

As a new author, I’m learning a lot about rejection. I foolishly thought that writing about a disease that affects 1 in 6 men, a disease that is diagnosed every 2.3 minutes, a disease that is the second leading cause of death for American men, would easily be a story the media would be interested in covering.  I thought our on-line website which is now visited by people around the world, and our book would make news. I was wrong. I couldn’t even get a response back from a number of reporters from my local newspaper the Modesto Bee.

Since we’ve written a faith-based book, I thought surely Christian Newspapers would be eager to print a story about our book and ministry. I’ve sent out many letters and press releases and have not heard from a single Christian Newspaper. This was an unpleasant and unexpected rejection.

The good news is, I no longer give up in the face of rejection. I’ve learned a very important lesson. That’s to move on, if one newspaper isn’t interested, keep searching, maybe I’ll find one that is. So with each rejection, I try to fine tune my approach, and try again. So in practical terms, what’s that look like? I say if the Modesto Bee isn’t interested, maybe the Sacramento Bee will be interested. If I receive a rejection there I’ll move on to another paper, perhaps the Fresno Bee. Before I run out of Bees I’ll turn to other newspapers as well.   Call me crazy, call me determined, but I’m not quitting in the face of rejection. I believe each of us need to look at the areas of our lives we’ve closed off or shut down as a result of being rejected.  We need to ask ourselves what we might do, what risks we’d take and what we’d accomplish if the fear of rejection was controlling and limiting our behavior.

God has a word for us about rejection and fear. Its found in: 1 John 4:17-18
  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
Allow God’s love to end the torment. Allow God’s love to end the fear. Allow God’s love to heal the areas of your life that’s been closed off, allow God’s love to make you fearless in the face of rejection. After all we learn in Rom 8:31
 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

So in my moments of discouragement, in the times I’m tempted to give up, I remember that no rejection no matter how painful no matter how life altering change the rejection brings about, as a child of the King,  His plan and purpose in my life and yours cannot and will not ever be defeated by rejection unless we give our permission and allow rejection to defeat us. May that never be true for me, and for you.
Rick Redner

Co-Author of I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?