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Holding the lies we tell ourselves captive
A reflection on rejection
Sometimes, you are blessed with feeling like you have things in the bag.
You warmed up, you trained, you prepared. It’s not cockiness or pride, but the confidence that comes with good preparation. And when the thing is over, you rest easy knowing that you put your heart and soul into it. That’s really all you can do.
One of my ongoing tasks as of late has been applying for jobs. In the midst of my searching, I found a contract position that fit a lot of the things that I was hoping for: flexibility, creativity, the opportunity to do something different from what I had been doing before.
As with any job application, I took the time to study the position, see where my own experience and skills lined up with the job, and tried to articulate what value I would bring to it. I applied and I did the interview, and from there I laid it all out on the table.
I remember telling myself and a few others that if this is what God wanted for me, then I wanted it too. Conversely, if He didn’t want it, then I didn’t want it, either.
These are the big statements that just roll off the tongue—but in reality, it would be a very difficult pill to swallow.
Judging by the title of this post, you may already guess that I ended up not getting the position.
Despite my best efforts, the team I interviewed with decided to go with someone else who had more experience. This is 100% fine, and if I were in their position, I also hire someone with more experience.
But rejection hurts.
After I received the rejection email I tried desperately to pray the following: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.”
Despite my grand attempt at total surrender to the will of God, I quickly found that “desperately” didn’t come close to describing how difficult it was to pray those words.
In my mind, I was trying to rationalize my way into surrender, reminding myself that God knows what He’s doing and perhaps He really doesn’t want me to have this position because He has something else in mind.
At the heart level, however, this rejection quickly spiralled into an all out attack on my self-worth.
I’ve been down the rejection road before, and with each passing rejection, it doesn’t get any easier. And yet, in this experience I noticed two things about myself that I had never done before.
The first is that I was consciously aware of the lies that I was entertaining—even if only for a few moments. In previous experiences of rejection, the lies that I told myself were seamless because they were in my voice: You’re not good enough, you’re not worth it, you always fail and you will never get better.
But this time around, there seemed to be a particular separation. Yes, I was hearing these lies, but suddenly it wasn’t me that was saying them to myself. It was indeed the evil one—AKA, the father of lies—who was trying to kick me while I was down.
The other thing that I found myself doing was that once I noticed the evil one lying to me, I turned to God in a way I had never done before. God, who is Truth, was the only voice I could really rely on in this moment. With that came peace and even joy in the fact that He does have everything under control.
While this didn’t automatically remove the sting of rejection, through these graces I was able to get off the Emotional Express™ and really lean into the truth of God’s continual promise for my life: That He wants only good things for me, and everything that He knows is good for me is infinitely more good than anything I could ever come up with.
St. Paul, in his second letter to the church in Corinth, talks about “taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5). God, in His infinite love for us, lets us say and think what we want to. Yet more often than not, we allow our voices—and subsequently the lies—drown out what God is really saying to us.
In those moments where we start to doubt or question or lie to ourselves and God, there’s an invitation here to seize those lies and offer them back to God. It’s kind of like looking at ourselves in the mirror and allowing God to be right there with us: We see ourselves in a certain way, but giving God the opportunity to tell us who He says we are to Him.
It is very easy to receive the praise and accolades of the world and believe those things make up who we truly are.
Conversely, the absence of that praise can lead us to believe that we are failures.
By taking those lies captive and bringing them to God who is Truth, we are reminded of the love He has for us and the ways in which He has cared for us and continues to care for us.
In all the moments of success, when we feel like we have things in the bag, may we remember first to glorify Him and thank Him for being with us there. In all the moments of rejection and failure, may we look to the one who was rejected first, who died for our sins as His greatest act of love and mercy for us.
When rejection hurts us the most, may we hold all lies captive and lay them at His feet. He is not afraid of the lies, and more importantly, He wants to transform them for us. May we find the strength and courage to go to Him first before anyone and anything else.
In Jesus Master,