Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
I remember the moment he said the words: “I’m sorry. I just don’t think we have the right connection.” Waves of inadequacy and shame swept like a riptide through that Chicago alley, leaving me struggling and gasping for air in the storm of his rejection. I didn’t breathe again that night. Really, I don’t think I breathed normally for months after he rejected me.
Swimming in uncertainty and insecurity, I picked myself apart for months, trying to find what it was about me that scared him away. Was I too much? Too loud? Too intense? I must have been too broken. Too boring. Maybe I wasn’t pretty enough. Maybe I wasn’t thin enough. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough. I just wasn’t….enough.
These questions turned into accusations. Accusations that had haunted me for years but now were amplified and imprinted on my brain with the stamp of his rejection. Rejection sinks its teeth into the soft, tender parts of our hearts, ripping open wounds and burrowing itself deeply within our insecurities, seemingly confirming that they are true. Rejection so easily becomes self-rejection.
Henri Nouwen says in Life of the Beloved, “I am constantly surprised at how quickly I give in to this temptation [of self-rejection]. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking: ‘Well, that proves once again that I am nobody.’ Instead of taking a critical look at the circumstances or trying to understand my own and others’ limitations, I tend to blame myself–not just for what I did, but for who I am. My dark side says: I am no good….I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned.”
His rejection was painful, but it was my own rejection of myself that ravaged me internally for months. External rejection is inevitable: in romantic relationships, in friendships, in work, in our families. Unfortunately we live in a cold, broken world that does not always recognize our belovedness. There are times we will be forgotten, rejected, abandoned and set aside.
But if we are anchored deeply in the life-giving soil of our Lord’s love, the cruel or indifferent actions of others won’t violently uproot us. We will see rejection as redirection rather than a definition of our identity.
Living in the reality of our belovedness is not easy though. Because of original sin, we have a natural propensity to doubt our innate value, our goodness. And most importantly, God’s goodness. Any rejection has the power to collapse us in on ourselves, throwing us into the throes of self-obsession and self-deprecation. Self-rejection is deadly. It isn’t easy but we have to fight everyday to trust we are loved. That we are deeply known and seen by the Creator of the earth, the seas, and the sky. That we are the Beloved. More prayer, more therapy, more supportive, holy community-whatever it takes to start living more deeply into your true identity-start doing/seeking it today.
For me, surrounding myself with women who loved me and saw and appreciated the God given goodness in me was incredibly healing. I also found a therapist who could help me uproot lies and heal wounds that had been oozing on my heart for years. And of course, sitting in the silence of prayer and receiving the Sacraments regularly helped me to slowly hear the voice of God who is constantly whispering: “You are worthy. You are loved. Jacque, you are my beloved.”
I’m not completely healed and whole yet. I still struggle with feeling as if I’m not enough. But I’m beginning to settle more comfortably in my identity, in the woman God made me to be. I’m beginning to peacefully sit in his love rather than grasping for the shiny counterfeit love around me. And when I fall, when I fail, I know I have safe, gentle arms to run back to. Because I am his beloved. And so are you.
My friends, the Lord has more for you than living a life of hating yourself. Of living in anything other than the truth: that you are the Beloved of Love himself.