Too Quiet

Rejection. I don’t think there is one human being on earth who has never been hurt by it. It comes in many forms, such as being passed over for a job, not getting into your dream college, being shunned by peers, being dumped by a significant other, self-rejection through low self-esteem/perception, etc. The list goes on and on. One way or another, we’ve all experienced it. It’s painful in all of its forms, and when we don’t deal with it appropriately, it manifests through us in toxic attitudes and behaviors that can derail our lives and the lives of others.

I had a blast during my time at Frostburg State University. In fact, I was more focused on fun than academics. More than anything, I was super captivated by greek life. I stumbled in and out of many frat and sorority parties, and I always LOVED the step shows. Above all, I was in love with the idea of being a part of something. I was always inspired by the letters on the jackets that represented initiation into a “family”  where only “certain people”  could make it “in”,  and I wanted to be “in“. The exclusivity of it was thrilling.

During my sophomore year, I don’t recall exactly how, but me and a couple of friends started getting invited to hang out with the guys from a fraternity on campus (no name dropping).  Of course I was like, “Yoooo!  They want us!”.  Now, obviously we (girls) couldn’t join the fraternity, but the fraternity had a sister group that served for the support and uplifting of the brothers.  They weren’t a sorority, but instead they were under the fraternity organization to uphold the mission and values, while supporting the brothers. At that time, I thought it was a privilege and honor to be invited to chill with them, but unfortunately I was a little too chill for their taste. 

Everyone from the fraternity seemed cool. Funny enough, one of the sisters under the fraternity would talk to me about Jesus. This was before I got saved. I remember she would suggest cleaner alternatives to my habitual use of profanity. She definitely had a positive influence on me. I guess she knew there was a calling on my life, but at that time my main focus was fun and getting into the greek life. We hung out with the frat folks quite a bit  – at their basketball games, house parties, and other events they hosted. My friends and I just knew they wanted us, but eventually the invites stopped, at least for me. 

I began noticing that my other two friends started doing things with the frat folks without me. Curious, I asked what was up and they gave really brief, unclear answers. I didn’t really think too much of it at first, but time began to pass and I remained excluded. I kept asking my two friends about us joining and then one of them came out and just told me. The two of them had already begun the initiation process. I still recall her exact words, “Don’t tell anyone we mentioned this to you, but they said you didn’t get in because you didn’t speak to people enough.” “ARE YOU SERIOUS?” was all I could ask. I was surprised. More so, I was hurt.

I really had no idea how or why they felt I didn’t talk enough when I socialized like everyone else at all the gatherings and events we were invited to – or at least I thought I did. I liked everyone and I thought they all liked me, but obviously they didn’t like me enough to invite me to join their organization. Looking in retrospect, I get it. Similar to a job opening, candidates are screened to see if their personality, character, etc. are a good fit for the organization.  Of course, the best matches get in. In the case with the fraternity, I just wasn’t a match. At the time I didn’t develop hard feelings toward anyone from the fraternity, but learning that I was basically “too quiet” for them definitely worsened my insecurities.

19-year-old me was far too concerned with what people thought and felt about me. Above all, I hated being labeled as quiet because to me quiet was uncool, lame, weak, etc., and I never wanted to be viewed as such. I also was no stranger to rejection, so this just threw salt in the wound. I wanted to be cool with everyone, and I wanted everyone to be cool with me. So, being rejected by the organization because I was too “quiet” definitely hurt and made me wish I was more “social” in the eyes of others. It was a pretty bad feeling, but one thing I have always loved about me is I don’t fake anything. Never have, never will. I was myself 100% with them. I’d rather be rejected for who I really am, than to be accepted for something that I am not. 

All throughout my 20s, the nasty root of rejection poisoned a lot in my life –  relationships, my ability to grow, etc. I was hurting people around me. Mostly, I was hurting myself. I got to a place where I recognized the poison in my mind and heart, and I knew I needed to really get honest with God by admitting all the hurt I had suppressed (including rejection from the frat organization) and really allow the Holy Spirit to deeply heal and purify me. As always, God is faithful.

As hard as it was at first, I confessed my pain in prayer, elaborating on painful experiences I hadn’t released. I also chose to forgive those who hurt me. I can’t explain the sweetness of God‘s peace and comfort that came over me during those intimate moments of honest confession. The main thing He revealed to me is that I needed to renew my mind (Romans 12:2). This was the only way I could overcome the many lies that plagued my mind and learn the good, pleasing and perfect will of God, which leaves no room for the concern of human opinion.  

I learned that my concern should not be on human praise and acceptance (1 Thessalonians 2:6) but on pleasing God (Colossians 3:1-3). I learned that I was perfectly imperfect, just like any other human being and NO ONE was in the position to appraise my personality, beauty, value, or any other parts of me. I learned that Christ is above EVERY name, power and authority, and if I am in Him, I am also above all those things (Ephesians 1:17-23; 2:6-10). I learned that my value and worth come from God. I learned that God‘s approval was the only approval that I should be concerned with. 

13 years later, I laugh when I think about the fraternity incident. I smile because of how far God has brought me. Reflecting upon his good and faithful healing power brings me overwhelming joy. It doesn’t hurt anymore because I am healed. The sting of rejection no longer has a hold on me. I’m free, and I’ve learned how to stay free. Looking in retrospect, most of the folks who dabbled in greek life were just like me – longing for acceptance and belonging. Funny enough, many of those same people are no longer even active in the organization. Also, I was told that I didn’t miss anything, except unwanted drama.

To clarify, I’m not bashing any fraternity or sorority. I’m sure greek life has been great to some, but the rejection that can come with it (along with any other form of rejection) can create painful wounds that need healing. For those who were too quiet, not cool enough, not cute enough, etc. just know God is extending the offer to the greatest initiation of all time – into the kingdom!  So accept HIS ACCEPTANCE and let him love you into wholeness. You will not regret it. 

Know who you are, and never forget it.

All Things New

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One of the Most important things I’ve learned along this journey called life is this: DO NOT ALLOW YOUR PAST TO HINDER YOUR FUTURE. JUST DON’T DO IT.  Don’t allow people or past experiences to stop you from progressing into the greater that’s to come. Don’t allow them to stop you from embracing the new. They just simply aren’t worth it. That’s why all through the Bible we are urged to forgive others, renew our minds, and move on – NOT LOOKING BACK.

Everyone on this planet has experienced some sort of trauma – physical, emotional, etc. We’ve all experienced the harsh sting of failures and disappointments. We’ve all been hurt by others in some way. Man, it’s so easy to grow callous, closed, and guarded as a result of experiencing trauma. I’ve definitely been there. It almost seems like human nature. Think about it. When you scrape your skin, your body immediately goes into “self preservation” or defense mode. A hardened scab begins to form as a PROTECTIVE AGENT to prevent additional germs, etc. from entering and further infecting the wound. But notice this – the scab TEMPORARILY forms to initiate the healing process. Once the wound heals, NEW SKIN forms and the scab falls off. Once healed, the body doesn’t need the hard, protective agent. If only it were this easy and quick to heal from emotional trauma.

Often times, painful experiences in life (failures, disappointments, regrets, betrayal, rejection, abuse, ridicule, etc.) create emotional wounds, and similar to how our physical bodies respond, we go into emotional “self preservation” or defense mode. We build up these thick layers of callouses and scabs to prevent anyone or anything else from inflicting further pain. Sometimes it takes years for us to heal and allow the callouses and scabs to fall off, with new skin beneath. On the other hand, some never heal. They live life at less than full potential and they go to the grave with decades old callouses and scabs. Just to know that beautiful new skin was waiting to form the entire time, but never did because of over-extended callouses and scabs. People, PLEASE don’t become the latter. You’ll be doing such a disservice to yourself, others, and God. Healing is a process, but make sure you progress through the process.

A wise woman once told me that the GREATEST revenge is success. The absolute best way to take revenge on all those past hurts and pains is to simply let go and move forward (Philippians 3:13). It’s a decision that only YOU can make. There is something toxic about constantly looking back into the negative past. Check out Genesis 19:16-26. God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but he chose to spare Lot and his family. They were urged to flee quickly and not look back. God had a plan for them – something much greater than what they had…but…Lot’s wife couldn’t resist the urge to look back, and as soon as she did, she turned into a pillar of salt – her future and destiny FORFEITED all because she looked back rather than looking forward.

Jesus is the MOST progressive person to ever had live on earth and through Him, we’re all made new. God loves us. He cares about us and everything that concerns us. He’s fully aware of our hurts and pain. He desperately wants us to trust Him to make everything new (Isaiah 43:19). God wants to heal our wounds, removing the callouses and scabs of yesteryear to form beautiful new skin. While the Creator of the universe has the power to do anything, He does require our participation in the healing process. In layman’s terms, we have to do our part. Healing, moving on, and embracing the new surely takes much purposeful effort.

To begin with, we need to be enlightened and rejuvenated through the power of God’s word (aka the Bible). Jesus took lashes so we can be healed and set free from all types of bondage (Isaiah 53:5)  His word is the TRUTH and the truth makes us free (John 8:32). This implies that FREEDOM is a condition, a state of being, and anyone can obtain it. That’s why Philippians 4:8 tells us to keep our minds fixed on what’s TRUE (first and above all), noble, right, purse, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. The more we focus on the things of God, the more we heal and our callouses and scabs fall off as beautiful new skin grows. Now, while healing and freedom can be obtained, we MUST be sure to MAINTAIN them so we don’t end up regressing (Galatians 5:1). Aside studying, applying, and meditating on the word of God, we really need to stay in PRAYER. So many folks sleep on prayer, but it is powerful and effective (James 5:16). Prayer changes things. Really. You have to keep your heart clean. FORGIVE. Ugh, the F-word. That word has made me cringe in the past and I’m sure I’m not alone. It can be hard…it is hard. But what’s even harder is walking around wounded, resentful, and toxic – wearing layers of ugly callouses and scabs. Blah. Who has time for that? It’s legit self-torture. LET GO. No amount of hurt, anger, disappointment, etc, is worth you forfeiting your destiny. Your life is not just about you. There are so many people out there you’re assigned to reach, touch, influence, uplift, encourage, etc. You deserve to be the best you and becoming the best you requires the decision to turn away from the old and walk into the new.

MOVE ON. LET THE PAST GO. Everything that was meant to hurt you will work out for your benefit (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28). Don’t let your past suffocate your future – please don’t. There’s a better version of you awaiting for you to become it. Everything new is waiting for you to trash the old. Make sure you run with a tribe of folks who are headed in the same direction as you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Love wins. Love heals wounds. Love removes callouses and scabs. Love makes new. Believe and trust God through it all. Forgive. Move on. Love. The ingredients to a new you and a new life.

Enjoy the upbeat MercyMe song below that’ll remind you of the new that awaits you 🙂