My story has been a lifelong story really. Because I have always had issues with rejection. As a kid, it felt like there was something wrong with me. Like there was something broken inside of me and I believed that I was different for that reason. I always felt like I was on the outside, never quite fitting in, always excluded. It felt like I didn't have any friends and particularly girls and teenage girls. They can be a little bit hot and cold; one moment they'll be your friend, the next they'll freeze you out. So that happened quite a lot to me throughout my schooling years. And it just destroyed me emotionally.
Coming into adulthood, I got very good at putting up walls. I had strategies in place to protect my heart from that rejection. If anybody ever said or did anything to even slightly trigger that fear in me, I would immediately put distance between us and that relationship. I wouldn't initiate anything, because if I initiated something and then the other person said no, that was just a huge rejection. I wouldn't host or do anything for my birthday or anything like that because I believed people wouldn't want to come. They'd just say no. In my spirit, I was craving that fellowship, that human connection with another person.
When I was out socially, I'd be seeing that happening but I wasn't experiencing it for myself. And so that only highlighted to me how lonely and alone I really was. It's one thing to feel lonely when you're by yourself. But it's another thing to feel lonely when you're in a room full of people. It's another thing entirely. It feels very much like a wound. Like a wound to your spirit. And so often I'd handle it quite well in the moment but then I would go home and fall apart. Sometimes it would be days. Sometimes it would be weeks where it felt like I'd just been shattered. And I had to slowly but surely pick up all the pieces of myself and glue myself back together so that I could face the world again.
One day I went to church and the sermon was on not letting your fears and insecurities stop you from stepping into the fullness of what God had for you. I remember sitting in the service and feeling like every word was a physical blow to my chest. I just knew that God was speaking to me and so I was sitting there remembering all these things that had happened to me. All these times I'd been hurt. All the woundedness that I carried began to rise up within me. It was like God ripped the bandage off this wound and it was festering underneath. It was nasty stuff. And there was so much bitterness there as well. It was so overwhelming. I just began to weep. I couldn't handle that much pain. I got out of the service as quickly as I could and went home. I went to my room and shut the door.
It was at that point that I just cried out to God and said, "God, I don't want to live like this anymore. I don't want to carry this rejection anymore." And straight away, He answered me. It was almost like words written across my mind. He said, "Just put it down." My eyes were opened and I realised that actually, I didn't have to carry it. I could put it down. I could just put it down and walk away and never look back. Straight away I could feel the weight just sliding off my shoulders. It was just the most incredible experience that I've ever had. I knew in that instant that He had healed me. He had set me free and I was gonna be a new person from that moment on.
Each day since that night has been like a new discovery of the new me. I have the ability now to be able to initiate things, to invite people around. I run a small group. Being set free has been so amazing in terms of being able to talk to my kids honestly about rejection. We talk about what that looks like and why they might be feeling a certain way. I can give them everyday evidence of the ability of Jesus to heal us and for them to see that difference in me and know that it can be for them as well. Often what we carry, our kids can pick up on. And I didn't want to see my kids struggling with the same things that I struggled with. Jesus is a healer of life. He came to break those chains and to set us free. And He did it for me and I believe He can do it for anyone who is willing to just lay it all down before Him.