Rejection, The Name of the Game?

This has kind of been my mantra as of late: One. That’s all I need. Just one offer.

In case you’re new or have been merely glossing over my entries for the past few years months, you probably should know that I’m applying to graduate programs, both Masters and Ph.D. level. And I’m going to level with you all, because I feel that you (my readers) deserve it and because I really need to get some of this “negative energy” off of my chest.

I’m actually kind of afraid.

And I’ll just lay out all the irrational fears right here, in plain view: I’m afraid that I’m not going to get in anywhere and work at a fast food joint or dead-end office job, living in my parents’ basement with no real intellectual stimulation or promise for the future. I’m afraid that if I don’t get into grad school, all the things that I want in life will never come to pass. I’m afraid that if I don’t get into grad school, I’m not smart enough. 

How’s that for irrational? When something is unknown or doesn’t seem like it’s going my way, I am so quick to jump to the worst case scenario. Since I’m being honest here, I’m going to admit that rejection, in any form, doesn’t sit well with me. Whether it’s in my personal or academic life, nothing makes me turn into a weeping ball of emo girl like hearing the word “no”. I don’t get angry, I don’t get bitter. I just get really mopey. I know. Mature, right?

And to get real, hearing “no” isn’t going to magically disappear throughout the course of my life. But in the way that most irrational fears are dispelled with the truth about the situation, I need to look to actual truth when faced with uncertainty, rejection, or fear. And yeah, I’m talking about scripture.

Matthew 6:25-34 is such a great reminder. Basically, it makes the comparison (and I’m paraphrasing) between nature and man. Now, I’m sure every one of you has enjoyed the beauty of flowers or marveled at various furry types of animals. They don’t “do” anything for their provision. Sure, squirrels bury nuts and birds build nests. But in the end, they are dependent on their creator to sustain them. The same (sorta) goes for flowers, trees, and other growing things. They are dependent on sunlight and rain to live. Again, they don’t “do” anything for their survival. So if God, in his perfect wisdom, can perfectly provide for these seemingly “insignificant” creatures, how much more will he take care of us? And if you’re a Christian, you’re not just God’s creation – you’re his child, co-heirs with Christ, bought with his blood, known before the world came into existence, created in his image.

But naturally, I like to forget that last part. I love to go about my day, oblivious to all the ways that the Lord is intervening in my life. I heard a quote once, from a source that I cannot remember, but it basically said, “In prayer, take “no’s” as God’s protection.” Over the years, I’ve been coming to grips with the word “no”. Instead of seeing a slammed door or a missed opportunity, I see God’s sovereignty. He is perfectly wise, perfectly able, perfectly benevolent. My job is not to sulk or treat God’s kindness like an unwanted present. I can not and will not throw a spiritual tantrum because I do not get what I want the most. Even if I’ve worked hard for it, even if I think I deserve it. Instead of looking to my own “laurels” or resting on some feeble thing that I have achieved in the past, I am told to seek first the Lord and his word.

Because I am a Christian, because I believe that Christ has purchased me with his blood, because I long for the rest of heaven and eternal communion with Jesus, I intellectually know that what happens here on Earth is a mere shadow compared to God’s glory. But like every single human that has ever walked this earth, I treat today like it’s the only thing that matters. When I think like this, hearing “no” becomes a deep ravine of sorrow, tears fall, and I shake off the joy of the gospel. Just like you train muscles in the gym and make your body stronger, I need to train my heart as it reacts to the sorrows and trials of this life. And how do I do that? Well, I… uh… seek God and his word first, put him first in all of my dealings – where he should have been all along.

So as I press on with my applications, I am reminded of the real hope that awaits me. No matter if I get accepted to every school (unlikely), a few, one, or zero, my joy in Christ will not fade. My love for the gospel will not magically flitter away because I did not get what I wanted. Because, when you think about it, Christ is sovereign over all, and that has some huge connotations for tomorrow.

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