“I need to thank you for saying ‘no’ to me.”
How often do you thank people for rejection? If you’re like me, I’m assuming never. Rejection is not something we thank people for. No one likes rejection, giving it or getting it. Being turned down, whether for a job or a date or anything else, is one of the worst feelings out there.
Rejection often leads me asking, “what is wrong with me?” or starting that dreaded list of “if” questions, “if I only did this..” or “what if I had said that…” All that only leads to doubt and confidence problems.
Lots of Rejection
Recently, I was given the task of finding a mentor for myself. My only real prerequisite was wanting my mentor to be a married woman. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?
The first woman I asked responded with such excitement and humility, I thought it was a done deal. But she requested time to pray over it and talk to her fiancé about it. I said of course, mostly thinking it was a formality and that God would absolutely confirm this mentoring relationship needed to happen. I was fairly disappointed when she sent me a text the next day saying she simply didn’t have the time to commit right now. Understandable, so I moved on to ask someone else.
I asked around the office (I work for a missions organization) to get some suggestions for more married, or almost married, woman to ask. Eventually, I was given three more names. I sought out each of these women, and each gave me a thoughtful, prayed-over, no.
The rejection was starting to sink in. No one had the time to dedicate to mentoring me. I guess I’ll just have to stick it to the man and not have a mentor this semester. The feeling of defeat seriously started to sink in.
“Why don’t you ask Rozy?” the self-proclaimed mama of the office asked me at lunch after I half-heartedly asked her if she had time in her schedule for me. I looked at her in disbelief. Rozy? Right, because one of the most sought after women I know is going to have time in her schedule for me! Ain’t no way. But Mama C persisted and told me to at least ask. “Fine, I’ll text her right now.” I pulled out my phone and stopped myself, asking someone to pour into your life isn’t something you do via text message.
I postponed asking Rozy all weekend. I contemplated every mode of communication. I can try to fool myself and say I was waiting to ask in person, but really that’s covering up the fact that I was too scared of being turned down yet again to ask at all.
Cue Monday morning when the whole office gathers for worship before starting the new work week. I wasn’t in the most amazing mood, but my heart was certainly happy to worship after running all those awful “if” questions through my head the entire weekend. At some point I looked around and who should walk in but Rozy. (You should know that I have seen Rozy at the office a grand total of two times outside of special events since starting here in September.) ….okay, God. I get the message. I need to ask Rozy. I didn’t feel like I could just walk up to her and ask in the middle of worship, though. I spent the rest of the time trying super hard not to make eye contact, but also not losing sight of her so I could ask her as soon as worship was done.
As worship ended, I spotted Rozy being ushered out (on the way to an important meeting, I assumed) but I called after her, got a hug, and asked before I chickened out, “Can I ask you something when you’re done with your meetings?” She said she would text me when she was available.
I tried not to be nervous for the next two and a half hours, but I desperately didn’t want to be rejected a fifth time. Eventually, the time came. I sat down with Rozy, did very little small talk (she sees through that stuff in a heartbeat), and came right out asking “would you be willing to disciple me this semester?” She asked me some follow up questions, told me her high expectations for a discipling relationship, and took the time to assess if we were a good fit.
Finally, I got a yes! And not just any yes, a yes from someone I never even considered being able to get a yes from.
The Best Yes
It took me five tries, but I finally got the best possible yes. It wasn’t until I was telling someone else about the crazy path I had to take to get to the yes that I realized how important those other four no’s were. If any one of those other women had said yes to me, I wouldn’t have been in a position to ask Rozy. Had my first attempt not ended in rejection, I wouldn’t have been close to having my expectations blown out of the water like God ended up doing.
A few days later, I saw the first woman I had asked. I looked her square in the eyes and said “Hey, thanks for saying no to me!” I told her the whole story and she was as excited and surprised at all God’s initial no’s too. Never in my life have I been so thankful for thinking so many people were rejecting me. Really, they weren’t rejecting me, but rather setting me up for the best possible acceptance, one so great I never even thought to set my sights so high.
Waiting for That Yes Despite More Rejections
We often can’t see what the best yes God has for us is—that’s what generally makes it such a great surprise when it does come. We set our sights low, keep our expectations manageable, that way the let downs don’t hurt as much. But I’ve learned to remember to be thankful for the rejections in my life, each of them is a closed door setting me up to find something so much better than I imagined.
It isn’t easy to remember that when you’re stuck in the middle of rejection and rejection, be it job related or relationships. But God has a purpose behind each no, each missed opportunity. More often than not, He doesn’t let us sneak peeks at the map He has drawn up for our lives, but we have to trust that His plans are so much better than ours.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time… 1 Peter 5:6
What rejections have you faced lately? Are there bullets you dodged you simply aren’t wanting to admit? It can be easier to sit in that pain, crying out for sympathy in all of the woe-is-me our generation loves so much, than to admit that decision might have been settling for something sub-par. Despite our disappointment, it’s high time we acknowledged that rejection can be good.