Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Coach's List: Lessons Learned From Rejection

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.” - Psalm 56:8

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I looked over the list that was taped outside my high school baseball coach’s classroom.

Then I looked over it again. And then once more. Each time, my heart sank a little deeper until the reality sunk in: my name wasn’t on the list.

I was a freshman in high school, and I had made it my mission in life from Day One to make sure my name was on that list, which held the names of every player who made the school's baseball team.

I trained with the team during the fall and winter months, went to every practice, played in several exhibition games, had a decent tryout and did everything that was asked of me.

Now it was spring, and I was sure I would make the cut. Baseball season was right around the corner and I expected my name to show up on that list. It wasn’t. Many of my friends were on it, but not me.

I went home utterly feeling defeated and deflated, alternating between red-hot anger and deep-blue sadness, wondering what I had done wrong and what I could have done differently.

It was the first time I really, truly felt the sting of rejection. It wouldn’t be the last. And it never gets easier.

There’s no sugarcoating it — rejection stinks. It hurts. It feels like you got sucker-punched in the stomach and brings you down to your knees. It feels like you’ve failed. And because you failed, you feel like a complete and utter failure. In your head, everything you did leading up to whatever kind of rejection you received was for nothing.

Sometimes our dreams die. Sometimes our prayers don’t get answered — or don’t get answered the way we would have wanted them to. Sometimes we give it our all, we give it everything we’ve got, but it just doesn’t work out.

I’m not going to minimize the pain, anger and sadness that comes with rejection. It’s okay to feel hurt and angry and sad. It’s okay to mourn a loss. In the midst of your rejection and loss, God is still there. You might be angry with Him. You might be asking Him why He allowed it to happen. He might not answer right away. He might not answer at all. But God is there in the midst of your pain and mine.

Here are some things I've learned about God in the midst of rejection:


“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” - Psalm 34:18

You don’t have to go through rejection alone. Even though we might feel alone, God is still with us in our pain and in our rejection. He wants to comfort you while you’re still in pain. He wants to give you peace even as your mind struggles to understand why. He wants to provide healing for your wounds. We only need to cry out to Him.


“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” - 1 Peter 5:8

God is not indifferent to what you’re going through. He cares about your heart. He cares about your situation. He cares about you. And because He cares about you, you don’t have to try and hide what you’re going through from Him.

I love how the verse above says that we should cast all our anxiety on Him. It's tempting to internalize the pain and struggle that comes with rejection, but instead God wants us to cast all of that on Him.

God is not surprised by your emotions, and there a many examples in the Bible of people being raw before God in the midst of their pain. King David brought his emotions to the Lord in a raw and real way throughout Psalms. Job unleashed his feelings to God after he had lost everything. God can handle your emotions.  

Whatever you are feeling, cast it to God. He can handle your tears. Your pain. Your sadness. You don’t have to have it all together to come to Him.


“The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.” - Luke 22:61-62

No one understands what it means to be rejected like Jesus did. He can sympathize and empathize with us when we’ve been rejected because He was rejected Himself — often by the people who were closest to Him. Peter, one of His disciples, denied Him not once but three times during Jesus’s greatest hour of need, even though just hours before he swore he would never deny Him.

God is not a detached deity. He understands what you're dealing with and experiencing.


"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

No matter what kind of rejection you might have experienced in the past, present or future, God still accepts you. He still loves you. He still wants you. When we realize this truth and live it out in our daily lives, we can overcome any rejection we may encounter in this life. When we know that God accepts us, we don’t have to worry about rejection.

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