"There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in."
—Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"
I’ve been rejected so many times, in so many ways, that I started to wonder what was wrong with me. It started early when my mom rejected motherhood (me) and chose alcohol instead. The unfortunate events seemed to never stop coming. I had to repeat several math courses throughout my education. I applied for jobs that I didn’t get, even after doing “all the right things” on top of going into debt in an effort to gain advanced degrees and training.
As I continued to age and mature, things didn’t seem to get better like the adults in my life promised me they would. What was I doing wrong? How come I always felt so far behind? How come I was never enough?
All of the rejection built a tenacious spirit in me, so I started investigating all of my failures. That’s when I began to notice a trend: almost always, rejection was protection! My biological mother was an alcoholic. It was safer for me not to be in her custody after she walked out on our family. The math classes I failed? That was due to a learning disability diagnosed when everything came to a head in college. Because I was really bad at certain subjects, the ones I was good at I excelled in. Like art: I spent hours drawing and getting lost in the dark room, because art never judged me. Now I get paid for my photography. And the jobs I never got? I found out later I avoided a toxic situation, or the company went bankrupt soon after my application date.
What I began to understand in my weary soul was that my God lives in the margins and witnesses to the broken-hearted. The pattern isn’t one of rejection, but of being held. That feeling of being held helped me incorporate the words “hold out for hope” into my daily prayer.
Now when I get rejected, I welcome the experience—for though it’s not always obvious initially, the truth always emerges sooner or later. When it does, all I can do is shake my head in thankfulness.
God of many names, remind us that the depths of despair have their breaking point, and the broken places make room for the light and love which surround us always.