Thursday, October 18, 2018

Hope in the Face of Rejection

by Emily Conrad

What if, those times we feel unseen and insignificant and easy to reject, something extremely significant is happening, unbeknownst to us?

Last month, I attended the ACFW conference, a huge gathering a Christian novelists. Though conferences can be a fantastic time of learning and connecting, there's also a lot of temptation to feel small, insignificant, and highly vulnerable to rejection.

Anyone who's been trying to make it in writing has experienced a lot of rejection. I imagine this is the same for those pursuing any dream. And I imagine we've all learned that we don't grow accustomed to the sting of rejection by simple experience.
Or maybe I should make this as personal as it is: rejection is not something I have grown comfortable with. I haven't automatically grown a thick skin.

Instead, my experience has led me to anticipate rejection before it happens. I know all the reasons I've been given a No before, and I begin to believe that all those reasons will inevitably lead everyone to say No.

Going into the conference, I worried about whether I could keep my disappointment in check if/when I faced rejection. Would I break down in tears in front of an agent who said, No, thanks?

With this question still unanswered somewhere in the back of my mind, I sat in one of the conference hotel's extravagant atriums. Not one, but at least three waterfalls gushed nearby, and the water of a fountain jumped and splashed next to me. And in this place, my Bible opened to Isaiah 49.

If you're not immediately familiar with that chapter, consider flipping to it now--the rest of this post will make a lot more sense.

Okay, have it open?

Like the prophet in Isaiah 49:4, I wondered if I've labored in vain and spent my time and energy on pursuits that won't pay off.

But Isaiah 49 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible, because it shows a God who has not rejected us. It shows a God who named our names and chose us (vs 1).

Those times we feel unseen and insignificant and hidden away? Those aren't by accident and they certainly are not wasted time. He'd polishing us into the arrows He's destined us to be (vs 2). We need this to fulfill our destiny in His kingdom.

Those times we feel rejectable and rejected, He declares that His purposes for our lives cannot be thwarted (vs 3). This won't always look glorious from our perspective. Just as verse 4 shows.

And yet, His light will go out, His salvation will reach to the end of the earth. He will use His servants for His glory, and we can have no greater aspiration. (Vs 6)

And I've found this to be true, as well: As we are tucked into those hiding places, we won't go thirsty. He will lead us. He'll guide us by streams of water.

There's something about sitting next to a literal fountain to make the promise of verse 10 all the more powerful.

They will not be hungry or thirsty;
the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them,
for one who has compassion on them will guide them;
he will lead them to springs of water.
Isaiah 49:10, NET

My God has done this for me. Jesus has done this for me. Literally that morning at the conference. Figuratively, each time I turn to Him.

Whatever rejection or acceptance I receive in writing or any other area of my life, I have not been rejected where it counts.

You have not been rejected where it counts, either. Jesus invites you to come. And if you've done that, then you are chosen.

Don't mistake those times of being hidden away as rejection. They are a time of preparation, sharpening, and polishing for your true mission. At the right time, He will let you fly like the polished arrow He's made you to be, one who will serve His purpose and bring Him glory as you were created to do.

No rejection can pluck you from His quiver of arrows. You are safe there, and shining with God-given purpose. You glint in the Son, and you will not miss His mark.

What if, those times we feel unseen and #insignificant, #Jesus is doing something extremely significant, unbeknownst to us? via @emilyrconrad #encouragement

Photo credits
Title image photo by Marc Schäfer on Unsplash,graphic created on
Pink roses photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Fountain at sunset photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

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Amanda Cox said...

I so relate to what you said about having recieved rejection and then bracing yourself for further rejection. Believing that you’ll be rejected for the same reasons as you have in times before. I have almost missed “yeses/moments of affirmation” because of preimptively expecting a “no” before taking the chance. I’ve made submissions assuming the answer would be the same as other rejections, and it turns out it might not be the case. Sometimes it is about finding that right fit. Especially in this subjective world of writing. So thankful for writer friends who talk me out of giving up on a project too soon!

KatieC said...

What a beautiful reminder. <3

Emily Conrad said...

You bring up a great point, Amanda, that if we start expecting rejection, we can shy away from pursuing projects God's called us to. Friends are such wonderful resources to keep us going--I know mine have helped to keep me going, too! Thanks for joining the conversation today!

Katie, thank you for stopping by!

Donna Schlachter said...

Thanks so much for the great reminder, Emily. And so beautifully said. Rejection always seems so personal --whether it's about a book, a hoped-for friendship, a potential spouse, a job -- or even simply getting cut off in traffic or snubbed at a gathering. Our enemy looks for ways to get in through the chinks in our armor, and we must remember: it's not us he is after, it's our witness, our testimony, and our service he wants to stop. He doesn't have to destroy us, just distract us with thoughts of inadequacy, insufficiency, or inability. But always more than adequate, more than sufficient, more than able. Let's lean on Him.

Emily Conrad said...

Amen, Donna! So well put! It does feel personal, and it's wise to remember who the real enemy is, and what he's really after. Thanks for that reminder. We're in the middle of a battle, but our Redeemer lives!

Mary A Felkins said...

I love that I'm safe in His quiver and glint in the Son - and will not miss His mark. Appreciate your sharing the difficulty of rejection. I don't think it is ever something we experience without difficulty but is easier to recover from with eyes set right back on the Lord.

Anne Carol said...

You always seem to write posts with messages I need to hear! This week I have felt unimportant and expendable, and it hurts. But God sees me and He has a purpose for me, and I know He'll provide for my needs. If I trust and embrace that truth, an air of peace hits me. Thanks for sharing, particularly that Scripture reference!

Emily Conrad said...

Happy to share, Anne! I love that passage! So glad the post came at a good time--God's great a timing :)

Emily Conrad said...

You're right, Mary! Rejection is much easier when we keep our focus on the Lord. Thanks so much for stopping by and joining the conversation.