Rejection II.

“Hi Friends!
Anyone interested in a Holiday Gift exchange? I don’t care where you live – you are welcome to join. I need 6 (or more) ladies of any age to participate in a secret sister gift exchange. You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to one secret sister and you will receive 6-36 in return!
Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the information! Please don’t ask to participate if you are not willing to spend the $10.”

When I first read this post on a friend’s Facebook wall, I got very excited. I wanted to participate because: A.) I love Christmas and B.) I love making new friends!

So for two things I love to be combined into one activity I had to do it. At first I was very excited to be a part of a secret sister gift exchange (I’ve always wanted to do one), and then I got the message from the person doing it.

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Turns out, that this “gift exchange” was a chain status. One person shares it, then they share it with 3 people, and then those three people share it with 3 people and on and on. While I was still excited to be a part of it, I felt a little less excited. I had thought that the gift exchange was going to be more organized and intentional, being between ladies who wanted to share intentional gifts instead of a chain status.*

After learning that I had to share the status on my wall to be a part of the gifting, I started to get nervous. I began thinking: “What if no one wants to participate with me?” “What if people think this is a dumb idea?” “I am sure all of my friends are already doing one from another friend on Facebook, why would they want to do mine?”

Then it hit me. This is another fear to tackle:

Rejection.

So to face this fear head on,  I decided to create my own gift exchange.

I posted a message, similar to the chain one, on my Facebook wall and sat waiting for the inevitable rejection of no one wanting to participate.

The response I received was wonderful. 5-6 lovely ladies in my life all wanted to participate, and even got excited when I mentioned that it was a bit different.They all wanted to be in a gift exchange and were excited at the chance to make new friends!

I was so excited to be a part of this little group; but also because I had put myself out there.

While this may not seem like a big feat of bravery or courage, for me it was. Just to put myself out there for the possibility of being rejected is a major stepping stone to overcoming some social insecurities I have experienced since I was a child.

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As No Fear November comes to an end, I am very pleased with how this month has gone. It was so difficult to face many of my fears and insecurities head-on; and I still have many more to tackle. However, once I made the decision to consciously face them, I began to grow bold in my decision, made new friendships, and found new things I enjoyed. I learned that I loved going to yoga classes and really want to dive more into my personal practice.  I had the opportunity to create a circle of new friends and encouragement through gift-giving by facing the possibility of rejection. I even gained more of a tolerance to possible rejections by doing little things throughout the days to get rejected on purpose.

I learned so much about how much I can handle; that I am much stronger than I choose to give myself credit for.

I hope to do this series again in the future!

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*Disclaimer: I like this idea! I am not dogging this at all.  I think it is great for sharing love and Christmas cheer! I am just personally just drawn to more intimate/intentional situations. I prefer intentional gift exchanges between a group of friends or potential friends instead of sharing the same status over and over to receive lots of gifts. I am fine with one. (Insert Introvert cliche)

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Apathy.

Loss. Destruction. Hurt. Fear. Agony. Distrust.

These are just a few of the emotions and realities that have come the past few days.

But fortunately for us Americans, we can soon forget all these things. There will be no one to remind us of these horrible events. The media will soon move forward, social media will spin into Christmas mode, and the thought of all of these events will be less than memories in our hyper, fast-paced, American minds.

We won’t have to worry about the Syrian refugees walking onto our soil in masses in search of help and care like European countries.

We won’t need to rebuild our cities and public entertainment centers destroyed by a suicide bomber.

We won’t have to try to rebuild thousands of years of history because of a massive earthquake literally ripping our culture from its foundation.

Our reality, as Americans, is that we will be more worried about cooking our huge meals for our families, finding the perfect gift for our loved ones, and we will continue to fight about who is the loudest candidate running for President. We will fall back into our habit of picking apart each other’s opinions, Facebook status’, and outward appearances. We will return to being jealous when a friend does well on a project, being angry about immigrants coming to our country, and looking down on those living in poverty. We will continue to fight each other to be the best, fastest, or most liked.

How can we claim a life of love, and yet give none of it- How can we claim a life of limitless opportunity, and not allow everyone the chance to experience it-

While we definitely have problems of our own, abandoning the plights of others seems incredibly selfish and small-minded. We see the struggles, fears, and life-threatening circumstances of those in other places everyday on the news, and yet can find a way to justify our forgetfulness and apathy. We want to help, as long as it doesn’t affect us. We think that the refugees need homes, but are unwilling to give them our own. We feel the sadness of the attacks in Paris, but the next day decide to fight about Facebook pictures.

How can we claim a life of love, and yet give none of it? How can we claim a life of limitless opportunity, and not allow people the chance to experience it?

Yes,Be a go getter (1)

I feel turmoil and anguish writing these words. Not out of fear, but of great sadness. The loss is so great; and yet all we can seem to muster is a Tweet that hopes those in need will find somewhere else to go.

But I am asking, if not to us, then where?

Why not us?

Friends who claim lives of love and peace in Jesus Christ: why are we so unwilling to help the helpless? Excluding our “rights” to freedom, liberty, and saving our economic system, is there a justifiable reason? Who are we to turn away the needy? Are we not instructed to give freely, even at the risk of our own safety?

Please know that I write these words with love and not judgement or anger. I write this blog to be a light in an ever-dark cyberspace. Sometimes that light comes out as encouragement. Other times that light must be truth. We must be aware of our fellow man in hurt and agony. We must show compassion and love to those in need.

Now is the time.

Much love. Much grace.

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“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

-Statue of Liberty

My Year Off from Titles

Before I go any further, I just want to say that absolutely none of this comes from a place of anger, bitterness, or regret. I have learned these lessons on my own because they were lessons I needed to be taught. I am not blaming, accusing, or hating on any person, group of people, or organization. This is just what I have learned and how I have grown from my experience.

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I have learned how to be strong. I have learned how to have the courage to keep going.

For the first three years of my college career I was in a whirlwind of activities. I was a part of several different school organizations, on leadership at my church, and also a leader in on-campus ministries. Not only did I participate on paper with titles, but all of my free time was consumed with leading others or being present every single time anyone asked me to be there. I would stay up all hours of the night, get up early, and sometimes miss my homework deadlines due to the amount of responsibility I had put upon myself.

By the middle of my Junior year I was flat out exhausted. I was tired. I was discouraged. I was burnt out. And it wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t being “filled” spiritually… I was in SO many Bible studies it is CRAZY. And I actually was learning from all of them. It was just that I felt the need for rest. Maybe instead of being at six (yes SIX) ministry related activities each WEEK, I needed to take time to rest in God’s presence. To remember why I had loved doing what I did.

And that is what I did. I had become too attached to the “Leader” label. I loved it. I loved hearing people say I was on leadership or was a team leader. I loved being super involved and having a voice. I loved fighting for my passion when others did not deem it important. But I loved it too much; I loved it more than the reason why I was doing these things. So with that, I pulled out all of my leadership and membership applications for my Senior year, ready and willing to see how God would use this last year of college for His glory.

This year has literally been the hardest year yet. Being a senior brings life change with harder classes (and then getting engaged…) and less time, and I felt it. So I tried to reach out. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried to love, encourage, or meet with people, things never worked out. I began to feel the loneliness.

I began noticing how since I had no label, I was not important. I knew nothing of events to go to until after they were over. I could never meet with the people I needed/wanted to. My community was lost. All because I let go of a title. Something I believed would be freeing and joyful and encouraging turned in to loneliness, sadness, and hurt.

I felt feelings of betrayal and being forgotten. I had wrapped my community up into one place, and it was shattered when I could no longer give as much of me as I had before.

These depressing thoughts loomed over me daily.

I could not escape the trap of loneliness that I thought was so unjustly cast upon me.

And in someways I am still dealing with these emotions. While this year is coming to an end, I have realized the purpose.

The Lord does not call me to a life of comfort.

The Lord does not call me to a life of popularity.

The Lord does not call me to a life of half-heartedness.

The Lord calls me to live a life that invests. A life that loves deeply. A life that encourages even when I am not being encouraged. A life of rejection. A life of being an outcast. A life of joy that only comes from Him.

See, I lost that when I was a part of these leadership teams. I loved being a part of the team so much that i would become surface level in my friendships.

I realized that even though it seems like it is, the church is not supposed to be a fraternity.

That is what my community was. Surface level. Giving to me only if I gave all I had. I felt that I had to have a certain personality to fit in. I had to wear certain clothes or say certain phrases to be included in these ministries. And I did these things. I changed to become like others. And that was what had burnt me out. I was being a different person that I was called to be.

God used these experiences to show me how far I had gone into my safety bubble. My little Christian bubble was so thick, I could not see outside of it. I could not see when people were hurting. I had to live a year of my life outside of the bubble. Make friends with those different than me. To feel the rejection and bitterness. To feel alone.

I don’t understand everything (obviously…). But I do feel more open. I feel more compassion to those outside of the selective ministry we have created. God is bigger than just that small group. He loves everyone.

What am I doing to share that?

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