Risk of Rejection: Part of the Barefoot Way
Over and over in my life, I see how rejection was the loudest manifestation of fear. While I enjoy being different, I still want to be understood. While I enjoy being seen as an oddball, deep down I still want to be accepted. The fear was not related to being seen as "different" or "other," it was the fear that being different would alienate me from people I cared about because they could not handle it. When I applied to be a youth pastor, I felt so self-conscious of differences between me and the church I couldn't help but share, but I did so with great trepidation. When I lost that job because of theological differences, it hurt. At times, it felt like I was losing everything that mattered to me, even though this wasn't accurate. When the worst you can imagine happens to you (and it turns out not to be so bad), you find a way to move on or you sit and pout. I found a way to move on, and I learned that the risk of rejection is just a part of the Barefoot Way. Leaders of organizations can be tribal gatekeepers. If you are a threat to the status quo, of COURSE you risk being rejected! Whether this be, your ideas, your antics or simply being a fully expressed person instead of one of the sheeple . I am learning to become comfortable with rejection, comfortable with misunderstanding. This doesn't mean I don't seek to understand or seek to build common ground, but I cultivating a resilience to pandering to what people want, and instead focused on walking the road of authenticity. To do this, I must accept myself for who I am, right now. I must also embrace humility, recognizing my own ridiculousness and saving grace for the ridiculousness in others. And finally, I must embrace forgiveness. At my best moments, I hear Jesus saying, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do," when I look around and would otherwise be compelled to judge. The rejections we face personally may not be in and of themselves good, nor the behaviors of institutions benevolent--in fact they may be quite the opposite--yet we have the opportunity to free ourselves from bitterness and keep our footsteps light with the power of forgiveness. We will face rejection. It's going to happen. The question I posit to you is this: How will you courageously face your fears and embrace rejection as part of you being you?