Feelings of inadequacy and rejection are some of the most painful in human experience. And all of us have been acquainted with them. How we process them matters. Our disappointments don’t have to define us. This guest article is one that I asked my eldest daughter, Ashley, to write for me about a particular situation that occurred in her life during her sophomore year in Bible College. God used a big disappointment to do some deep work in her life that year. And she continues to enjoy the rewards of the relationships and lessons He provided during that time. You may not have experienced the exact same thing, but I’m sure you can relate to the idea of “not being chosen.” If you’re struggling right now, I hope this encourages you to stay centered in Him and believe that His plans are always for good. Ashley would want me to say that this pivotal point in her life opened the doors to beauty she wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. And it can do the same for you. – VQ
The Blessing of Not Being Chosen
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon late in August.
Both anticipation and anxiety coursed through the room. Tryouts for the Public Relations music groups were in full-swing. As I had just finished my first year of traveling in a PR group for the college, I figured I had a slight advantage due to my experience, and because of that, I was confident I would be chosen again. My name was called along with the names of several others.
We marched down the stairwell and into the audition room, sang one of the selected songs, then returned to the waiting room upstairs as the next list of names was called. This process continued for several hours, lasting most of the afternoon, and I had only been called down two or three times. While this fact slightly concerned me, I told myself that the Music Faculty had probably already decided which group they wanted to place me in and didn’t need to hear me sing anymore.
“Yeah, that’s probably why I haven’t been called again,” I thought as I tried to settle down in a corner of the room and read a book, trying to ignore the unsettling doubt I had in my thoughts. Finally, the afternoon ended, and we were all free to go. As I left the Music Hall that afternoon, I remember some of the Music Faculty almost avoiding me. They were polite but seemed troubled, like something was wrong. That didn’t help soothe my uneasiness, and I battled with that feeling for the rest of the night.
The names of the new Public Relations members were usually posted the same day as the auditions or the next. That was not the case this time. My fears were beginning to steepen. “What if I don’t make it into a group this year? How will I pay my school bill? What will people think of me?”
Two days or so after the auditions, the chair of the Music Division, Dr. Jana Pop, invited me into her office to talk with her and the Public Relations Director, Mr. Don Davison. I had a bad feeling about what our conversation was going to entail. Honestly, I didn’t want to go into that office. I didn’t want to face what I feared they were going to say, but when the time came, I walked into Dr. Jana’s office and sat down in one of the armchairs.
“You’ve probably guessed by now that you didn’t make it into a PR group this year,” Mr. Davison began.
He continued speaking, but I honestly don’t remember much of the conversation. My mind was reeling with the realization of what had just happened. Not being chosen for a PR group meant that my life would be drastically different than it was the previous year.
Everyone wants and likes to be chosen. It gives us a feeling of “being enough,” being “adequate.” We feel validated. We feel important. I’m not sure what it is about our human nature that drives us toward desiring to be chosen. Perhaps it’s a God-given desire. Perhaps it’s a culture-shaped desire. Whatever it is, it’s a very real thing, and something with which we all battle nearly every day. Maybe, like me, it’s wanting to be chosen as a member of a PR group. Maybe it’s wanting to be chosen for a school/community club, or maybe it’s wanting to be chosen by a certain group of people or a school sports team. Maybe it’s wanting to be chosen for a job promotion or college scholarship. Maybe it’s wanting to be chosen to sing the choir solo or play the leading role in the drama, or maybe it’s wanting a person to choose you as their “special someone.” Whether the situation is big or small, being chosen is a huge deal to us, and not being chosen can bring some hard realizations.
For me, not being chosen for a Public Relations group was devastating. Sadly, I had let being a PR member become my identity. Without my status as a PR member, I felt lost. I was confused and thought God was too. Nevertheless, not being chosen was one of the best gifts God has ever given me.
Mr. Davison ended our talk that afternoon by saying a prayer for me. I then quickly grabbed tissues to try to hide my tear-streaked face and headed out the office, trying to avoid eye contact with anyone in my path. Once in my room later that afternoon, I knelt by my bed and cried until I could cry no more. I remember asking aloud, “What are you doing, God? Why did you let this happen to me?”
The next several days were filled with many awkward moments for me. I felt judged by others because I hadn’t “made the cut.” I didn’t want to go anywhere in public because I was so embarrassed. It was during those days that God started some serious work on me.
When we aren’t chosen for a position or privilege that we think we deserve (and sometimes rightly do), it upsets our world. Not being chosen is difficult to accept, regardless of how many times before it’s happened. During our mourning of what could have been, we can easily become bitter at God for denying us something for which we have hoped, anticipated, and possibly prayed. However, if we do so, we will lose an opportunity to learn and experience the blessing of not being chosen.
Here are a few tips that helped me then and that I continue to learn for how to embrace the pain and value of not being chosen:
• Surround yourself with godly mentors.
• Lean on family and friends.
• Cheer on others.
• Stay close to God.
• Keep on living.
Surround yourself with godly mentors: God has designed us with a need for human relationships. As the saying goes, even The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Shortly after our first meeting in her office, Dr. Jana invited me back to help me process everything. We soon began meeting hourly every week to talk, and those meetings have turned into a beautiful mentoring relationship for which I thank God often. Not everyone will have a mentor; God has different plans for every person, but my advice to you is to seek out older men or women who have vibrant relationships with God and talk with them. Ask them about their experiences and what lessons they’ve learned. You will be amazed at their wisdom.
Lean on family and friends: Friends and family bring joy to our lives, especially on our rough days. When you’re facing the disappointment of a rejection, reach out to a good friend or family member and be vulnerable with him/her about what you’re experiencing. Talking out our feelings is strangely therapeutic; it releases repressed emotions. If you’re like me, being transparent with others is extremely difficult. I prefer to be viewed as “having it all together,” but the truth is, very rarely do I live that way. Those closest to us are the people who see us in the times when we don’t have a good grip on life and love us anyway. Lean hard on them, especially during those hard times when you need some extra “lovin’ on.”
Cheer on others: The evening the names of the new PR members were officially announced, I wanted to go hide somewhere and evade all human contact, especially with those who had been selected. I think that’s a natural human reaction. It goes against every self-defense mechanism we possess to go congratulate the ones who were chosen over us. Protecting ourselves feels safe and right. However, Romans 12:15 (ESV) states “Rejoice with those who rejoice . . .” God wants us to step out of our comfort zones to commend the success of others, even if we feel like the success should have been ours. In those moments, acknowledging the accomplishments and joys of others is one of the hardest things to do. It’s not easy, but it’s right.
Stay Close to God: When God doesn’t meet the expectations we have set, continuing to trust Him can be a challenge. As I wrote earlier, I asked God why, many times in fact. I just couldn’t understand what good He was trying to accomplish through my not being chosen. Sometimes, the pain of rejection or disappointment is so intense that people turn away from God and resolve to make their lives better on their own since God has seemingly forgotten them. Please don’t ever do that, for God truly is your closest companion. He sees your tears. David writes in Psalm 56:8 that God holds our tears in a bottle. He hurts when you hurt, but He knows the good awaiting you on the other side of the hurt. He can see the maturity that this disappointment will bring you. For now, it will sting, but keep leaning on His strength. He will bring you through.
Keep on Living: The mornings following a huge disappointment are toughies. They’re comparable to Monday mornings on depressants – there’s simply no motivation to do anything. We feel like curling up with our favorite blanket and shutting out the world with its cruelties. We want to bypass the awkward moments that will happen when good-intentioned friends ask us about that new position or scholarship for which we applied, and we must tell them that someone else received the position. We may feel worthless. I know I did. I couldn’t get my bearings on life. It was challenging for me to keep pushing through and see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, but eventually, I made it to the light and saw the beauty of the tunnel behind me. May I suggest that when you are feeling the wounds of not being chosen that you keep your normal routine going and continue plugging away at the tasks God has given you? God hasn’t given up on you. Your life isn’t over because of that disappointment. God still has incredible plans in store for you. Get up the next morning and prove it.
“Remember, brokenness shares a lot of company – there is nothing wrong with brokenness . . . it is in that moment that we find our restored self in Christ.” A dear friend wrote that to me two years ago, and it has resounded in my mind ever since. If we never have disappointments or feel the pain of not being chosen, we will never understand the beauty or comradery that comes from brokenness. Don’t despise your brokenness, your less-talented areas, your failures. Brokenness is actually a precious gift from our Creator. God has a miraculous way of taking our fragmented shards and transforming them into beautiful vessels of His grace that He can use to bless others around us if we allow Him.
So, friend, in those times when others are chosen over you, rather than sulking back into the shadows because of embarrassment or fear, embrace the blessing of not being chosen. You’ll be amazed at what God can do in your life because of it.