The Mean Pair of Jeans

jeans

There will be circumstances when life slips you a note which makes you feel you are on an uninvited list.  It comes in many shapes and sizes.  But the hemline of rejection is sewn with hurt.  It wounds and makes deep shreds in your confidence and slays your trust…in everyone.

However, as depressing as it sounds, I’m learning more about how strengthening rejection truly can be.  Let me explain.  The chant in my mind used to sound like this….(I can hardly type the words.)

“No one likes you…you are fat….”  Childhood rhetoric.  Empty spaces where my soul longed for acceptance.

There are some hurts that take you a lifetime to outgrow.  Words from unkind kids can be horrible and mean.  It takes a time to heal from a few words at play.  If you are different, or slow, or unskilled, you are culled, separated, and segregated. It’s destructive.

Sometimes people just spew insensitively towards you and you got caught in the crossfire.  Or perhaps it was your finger on the gun that shot the verbal bullets.
No matter who or what, we all have hurts that pile up and make holes.  We live in a world where hate wounds without caring for the casualties.  If you have been rejected, you know all too well how it feels.  And you may not internalize it like I have, but harboring this kind of toxin inside is infectious.
The problem with a mean pair of jeans is when a hole is made a patch only covers up the hurt.
I can remember a time when some old rejection knocked on my heart as I stared at my crumpled pair of jeans on the bathroom floor.  All I needed was one ounce of courage to put them back on …again.  I needed a few seconds of thin bravery to make rejection go away.  I was afraid and I didn’t want it to put my self-esteem back on the emotional teeter-totter.
I prayed, “God, I know you haven’t rejected me.  These jeans, this size, neither define me.   So whether the jeans fit or not, God…I am yours.  No rejection from a crumpled pile of fabric can know me like you do.  May my self-esteem be found in You.”
I could go on and on about the many hallways of my 100+ pound weight loss journey and noticing God in those moments.  My point is when you are emotionally wounded there will be times when rejection will shake your stability.  
I haven’t finished my study of how to fully overcome rejection, but in remembering how God delivered me then helps me handle rejection now.  Haunting rejection can easily slip back into the deep crevices of your heart.  Without describing the landslide of emotions I held onto that day, I do know God comforted me in those moments.
Now, I’m learning to manage rejection and it’s offense appropriately and handle quickly.  I’m also learning to shield my mind and not let it penetrate my heart.  In doing so, I’ve realized a larger portion of joy in myself.  No longer will a “mean” pair of jeans define me as a person nor dictate my self-esteem.  I am more than a size and number to God.
God is not a one-dimensional Being.  He hasn’t created flat people who are measured in numbers, ages, nor years.  The beauty of God is the acceptance Jesus gives you through forgiveness.
You were made by a God who knows your name.  You were made by Love who knew your deficiencies when you are formed inside your mother’s womb.  You were created in such a way  He saw your potential and is cheering for you.  To think  God rejects the things He loves is a lie.
The sum of rejection and the toll it takes on our lives is still being told as people walk out their faith in freedom.  And as you realize freedom, there’s no going back.  The taste of liberation is full of joy no matter the size, weight or number.
I know too much about God to go back on His word. This encouragement brings joy in hurtful situations and when rejection feelings overwhelm me.  And rejection rests in His hands is hemmed by forgiveness and embraced by His love.
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Learning Joy In Rejection

giraffesdancing

I’ve told the story before about a giraffe named Gerald who dreams of being a dancer with the other animals in the jungle.  Gerald has the desire but his ability to dance like the others isn’t quite up to par.  His knees are crooked and his legs are thin.  All the other animals mock him when he approaches the jungle dance floor.  His swagger  (as they say in jungle-eeze) isn’t zig-zaging like the others.

Gerald took lessons, studied the moves, more grooves, and eventually developed his own style. One day, on jr.audition day, Gerald showed up prepared to zig and zag in a confident direction.  After many hours on the dirt floor, he perfected a secret move all his own and still wasn’t chosen.

As he lumbered off in a dejected fashion, the lonely lanky spotted giraffe felt rejection from his “wanna-be’s”.  Downcast, he met up with his cricket friend who chirped “Gerald, you just need a different song.” Gerald’s heart lightened a little as he took the cricket’s advice.  He retreated to his own little jungle corner to let his heart dance free.

Soon, Gerald was prancing and sashaying once again.

Suddenly, a crowd gathered in amazement and recognized Gerald could dance after all.  All he needed was his own little space be brave and bold, freedom to unleash his rhythm by the light of the moon.

It might seem strange to you to tell you I think about Gerald often.  I know how this kind of rejection feels.  What the story doesn’t tell you is Gerald had a lot of doubt going into dancing.  So much doubt he wanted to give up.  He wanted to do anything else instead of dancing.  Gerald also had a big heart to teach others to dance but he couldn’t lead out because he felt unqualified.

The story didn’t mention how Gerald was faithful to his craft.  There were lots of practices he only watched from the outlying and surrounding undergrowth as the other animals gracefully swayed.  Gerald watched in wonder at their magical skill.  He longed to be included and seen by them.  But shamefully, self-doubt kept coming against him.  Opposition came in the jeers and taunts of his so-called friends.  Provocation came from his inner critic.  He was discouraged and just wanted to give up.

Why does this story move me so much?  It has a happy ending like most children books do and Gerald found the courage to recover a dream.  For me, it also speaks of how we should never give up uncovering who God created us to be.  If you are honest with yourself, wouldn’t you admit you want to belong somehow?

The search for purpose sometimes leads a person to unexpected places.  Michael Hyatt says to do “what makes you cry” in life.  What I’ve found so far is dreams are full of hard work and lots of practice.  There’s lots of pieces to making a dream work.  There’s even more work to get someone to notice your dance in a jungle full of excellent dancers.

So why should we try?  If Micheal Hyatt were here now I would ask him, “What’s the point?”  It doesn’t matter if you are a musician or not, please watch Victor Wooten’s talk. His lessons about life, success, creativity, learning, passion, permission and smiling are profound.

In using my creative confidence, I still have some lessons to learn.  Like Gerald, my dance doesn’t look like others, but mine is a worthy and weighty move .  I have also learned to not lean on feelings but to dance anyway.  Taking action on an idea requires applied practice and a dedication to stay the course.  Dancing takes courage, skill, and ability.  It takes guts to put your best foot forward.  It’s risky, hard and you may lose.  But… you will never know discovery unless you try.  It’s never to late to be what you might have been.

What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.

Speaking metaphorically, life is a dance.  We all have a unique design made by a God without rival.  And when an incomparable God has placed His uniqueness within, it’s our best response to practice and sing in the octave He gave you.  There’s no two dancers the same, each are unique in every way.  And finally, God just loves it I show up for practice, even with my deficiencies.

So where are you in this dancer’s world?

Why are there so many haters?

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body,sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:5-8

What could have possibly been in his finished messages that caused such rejection?  Or was it that his true compassionate motives fell flat on the dead hearts of his friends?  Could it be that they couldn’t agree with what he was saying completely and rejected him instead of accepting him?  Maybe this pastor was way off base the normal customs or culture of his day.  Or perhaps, just maybe someone was jealous of him and just mishandled the situation.

In any case, they just didn’t know him.

I found out a fact about Vincent Van Gogh recently, you know the one, the well known artist that created many masterpieces that now hang in famous world art galleries.  I knew he was a troubled man and fought a long battle of depression.  But what I wasn’t aware of was that painting canvases wasn’t his first choice in careers.

He grew up with a passion for preaching, giving of himself and showing Christ to his world.  He aspired to be a minister.

“For  three years van Gogh single mindedly pursued his calling to the ministry, first as a student of theology and then as a missionary to the coal miners in the Belgian Borinage. Deeply moved by the poverty surrounding him, Van Gogh gave all his possessions, including most of his clothing, to the miners. Van Gogh admired Christ’s humility as a common laborer and “man of sorrows” whose life he tried to imitate. “Jesus Christ is the Master who can comfort and strengthen a man,” he wrote.”  (www.davidpaulkirkpatrick.com/2013)

Vincent van Gogh, 18

A member from his evangelical church council made an assessment about his actions and determined that his behavior was outrageous, borderline scandalous, and turned him into the higher church authorities.  In other words in today’s Francis Chan lingo, he had Crazy Love for those who had needs and went all David Platt Radical by giving it all away.  The mishandling of his actions and the incorrect assessments of his motivations literally changed his trajectory for a lack of support and encouragement from the church.  “Although van Gogh was successful in his ministry, the hierarchy of the Dutch Reformed Church rejected him, and at the end of 1879 he left the church, embittered and impoverished. “I wish they would only take me as I am, he confessed in a letter to his brother.”  (www.davidpaulkirkpatrick.com/2013)

I don’t know why this story is so shocking to me.  I’ve seen plenty of good Christians wounded by their own.  I have two words for you…“Stop it!”  While Van Gogh grew embittered with the lack of compassion by organized religion, he did not abandon God as the church had abandoned him. He wrote,” I think it a splendid saying of Victor Hugo’s, ‘Religions pass away, but God remains’.

Van Gogh left his occupation and went on to develop his talent as an artist.  But I dare to think this rejection had to deeply affect his future.  Rejection by comrades in the your circle of influence can do damage in more ways than you think.  And the long term affect if not dealt with properly is depression.

Honestly friends, aren’t we all looking for our place in this world?  Of all places that needs the most open of doors is that of the organized religious church.  With the public headlines today, my heart hurts at how many stones are hurled for speaking out for righteousness and truth.  And how unforgiving actions are fueled by anger and propelled by wounding words.

I dare say I am embarrassed when I hear about it.

Perhaps because I know that if we realized how much power our words have, we would use them wisely and think about what we say first and then decide if they should be spoken.  Perhaps, a bit of encouragement and getting to know the heart behind Van Gogh would have changed his ideas about religion.  Perhaps, he wouldn’t have sunk into a pit of depression that lead to an early suicidal death at the age of 37.  Perhaps, if we knew and accepted him for the brilliant talent that was inside of him, he could have changed us.

Perhaps.

Perhaps if we only loved people where they were, we would show people the love that covers a multitude of our own sins and casts out all our fears.  Perhaps, if we didn’t judge people so harshly and then cast them off as trash or used goods, this world would have more art.  Perhaps if we just loved people who are unlovable 24/7 and those hard to love abusers, well, perhaps if we saw them through the eyes of Jesus, and if we saw our own sin, perhaps we would be more forgiving.

Perhaps Van Gogh could have made a longer difference alive than giving into a depressing death.  Perhaps if we love like Jesus and lead with a heart of love instead of ugly pride we could influence more lives for the kingdom.

Where in the Bible does it say you have to be cleaned up before you come to Jesus?  Perhaps we should take a tip from the One who knows us better than we can know ourselves, AND died while we were yet sinners, to sort out the sin tally stuff.  Perhaps Jesus, my Savior is a better sorter of sin.

Perhaps we should use our freedom of speech for noticing the good instead of noticing the no-good in others.

Even when the message of Christ is rejected, and in a world where we are “disheartened by our religious institutions” we shouldn’t give up on the holiness and love found in God.  He never rejects and always reflects a pure love that has room for everyone.

Come just as you are…