I dread walking through the doors of a building in a town I once called home. I now only enter through those doors when I am going back to visit that town, but I used to go through them several times every week. In those days of my manifold trips to this same building, I was well-known, and my services were often in demand. This was due to my having been blessed with talents that the organization housed within this building needed to utilize quite often. I could enter that building with confidence in those days. I didn’t have to deal with the dread of making my way through the front doors.
It’s a different story now. After I moved away from that town, I developed health issues that took the talents away. I stopped feeling useful, since I wasn’t in demand for a special skill set. And then, of course, in time I had to visit my former home and hometown. I went back through the doors into the building where I had once done so much work and been appreciated by so many people. However, this time people didn’t know what to make of me. They had compassion, but they also struggled to assess me, since I no longer had the capabilities I formerly possessed. In the presence of these friends, former fellow workers, and acquaintances I felt like less than a whole person. I felt the sting of rejection. And that building was only the start. I was due to feel those feelings many other places, with many other people.
There are so many reasons why people can end up feeling the same feelings that I felt. Over the years, I have seen more and more conditions and experiences that can make someone feel less than whole, or lead to rejection; the list includes sexual violation, poverty, losing a job, parental abuse, and coming home from war, just to name a few. If I had the space and the time, this whole post could be comprised of a list of reasons why the less-than-whole/rejection phenomenon might happen. Has this phenomenon occurred to you?
Certainly, in some instances, we are rejected for things that we can change. Sometimes we are simply rejected for our own choices. How to deal with such situations is certainly a quandary, but I believe it is a topic for another time. I’m thinking at the moment of situations where we can’t undo our fate. How should we respond when we can’t change the circumstances that have led to the feelings inside of us and the responses of other people? Can we ever feel whole again?
One thing we must realize is that, sadly, we cannot change the poor responses of other people. We can also never turn the clock back. We can never regain our health, our naïveté and blissful ignorance of potential threats around us, our childlike innocence, or the four weeks of vacation (plus seniority) that we once had. What we are able to do is change how we respond. We can change on the inside.
I have been through so many ups and downs. One significant “up” has been learning not to live or die based on what someone else thinks of me. I certainly should love those around me, especially those who are close to me. However, love does not stand by demanding someone’s full acceptance, or die of a broken heart if that acceptance cannot be gained. Love has to be “bigger” than that. Accepting that someone else might never fully accept us is indeed hard, and I don’t want to downplay that. Yet, overtime love progressively realizes that we are here on this earth for bigger purposes than just the acceptance that our hearts so often covet.
That sounds pretty tough, doesn’t it? Yet I found that, though it is an uphill battle, it has been freeing for me. And something else has been a significant progress in this journey I’ve been on. I have had to realize that, good as it may have been, and try as I might, I will never achieve the existence I had in the past. Part of my journey has been admitting that I am broken. But beyond that, I have also realized that I am new. Sure, I don’t have the talents I once had. But over the years, I have developed new interests, and new ideas. I’m not who I once was… I’m someone different. You know what? I think I am actually good with that!
All of this journey has helped me to find peace. Finally, this very week, I walked back through those daunting doors. And do you know what? When I got through them, I felt fine. Sure, there were a few moments of wishing I didn’t have my current health problems…but that’s not abnormal (acceptance doesn’t mean that I love pain!). The significant progress was that I felt content with who I was, and able to be at peace, no matter what other people might be thinking.
What you have experienced might be very different from my past. I don’t want to downplay your trials. Depending on what we’ve been through, we may need different levels of help, and even justice in this journey. But I think we can all experience good progress, especially when we realize a lot of peace comes when change starts happening inside of us. In addition, I believe that in the long run we will find rest once we begin to see that change that happens inside of us is often the type that makes the biggest difference.
Maybe you’re uncertain about how these internal changes can actually happen. Looking back, I know I definitely was (and sometimes still am!). I am reminded of some amazing and comforting words I often read: “Peace…that passes understanding will guard your heart.” Who doesn’t want peace that passes understanding? Where does one get such a thing? The place it is offered is in the Bible. God offers it to those who seek him with true hearts. You can read more about this peace in the “about” section of this blog. I will also include the names of a few resources I used in my own journey chasing after peace and healing on the inside. I hope you do find this peace, and true healing from whatever pain has occurred in your life.