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.