21 Days of Posts – Day 4 – Rejection

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hello to all who have decided to follow along as I post for 21 days straight as part of our church fast. As you can see, each entry is numbered as a particular day, so if you are reading this and the title above doesn’t say Day 1, then you should stop now and go read from Day 1, or take a peek at Day 2 and pick a topic you are interested in. Thanks for being brave enough to join me.

Hello, lucky reader! This post, like yesterday’s, also has a point, but it comes after considerable confession. Welcome to my head again…

Every feel like those wads of paper in the picture above? They’ve been rejected, deemed unworthy to keep, not even as bad examples, just tossed out.

Rejection happens to everyone at some point in their life. Some of the most successful people on the planet have been rejected more times than they can count. I envy them.

I don’t envy them because they are successful. That’s not my problem. I envy them because they appear not to care they were rejected. They move through their lives with a positive tilt on their acceptance/”rejectance” meter, not because they haven’t been rejected, but because they overcame that to be…successful.

If you know me, you probably know I avoid confrontation at all costs. I hate confrontation. It makes my head spin and stomach queasy. I’ll accept poor service, bad food, bad deals, and more, just to avoid confrontation.

But there is one thing I hate worse than confrontation.You guessed it. It’s our topic of the day – rejection.

Every fiber of my being hates rejection and not just overt, intentional rejection (which is usually for a good reason). It’s the unintentional rejection that hurts even more. It’s the lack of enthusiasm for one of my ideas. It’s the “playing along so he’ll get it out of his system” rejection that crawls all over me and bruises my fragile ego. I’m not saying everyone has to agree with me all the time, far from it (and that would be a terrible thing to do), but reject me or my idea overtly and intentionally so I can at least be sure that is what is happening.

Because that is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? Those of us who hate rejection most likely are not rejected as much as we think we are. We imagine rejection by other people as the norm and assume it in every movement they make and everything they say, partially from past experience, partially from a lack of confidence in ourselves. That’s why including rejection in the building of a character in a novel is essential. Characters who haven’t been rejected, especially in a huge, impactful ways, haven’t suffered enough for most authors (or even some readers).

I know I sound certifiable at this point, but I promise it’s not so. When I concentrate and remember that there is someone who will never reject me (here comes the point!), that someone being Jesus, I am better able to let rejection, real or imagined, roll off my back like eggs off Teflon (wow, that’s an old reference – sorry). Jesus will never reject us if we come to him in repentance and commit to him (Psalm 94:14). It doesn’t matter what shape we are in at the time – hurting, angry, ashamed, or addicted (or all of these) – he will receive us with open arms, again and again and again.

Because we are real good at rejecting Jesus. When we choose our plans and our path over his plans and his path for us, we reject him, crumpling him up (as an idea in our head and heart) and tossing him away. It imagine it has to hurt him. Think about an exceptionally hurtful time you were rejected (just for a second) and imagine that happening over and over. That’s what I think Jesus feels every day from those who reject him, whether they do it maliciously or unthinkingly.

Rejection – it’s not just a character builder, it’s something I try to avoid. However, if we truly live the Christian life, we are guaranteed to be rejected (and hated) at some point. That’s scriptural – check out John 15:18-25.

Thanks for reading to the end! Check back tomorrow as I write about writing – what it means to me and what it allows me to do.

Photo Credit – Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

21 Days of Posts – Day 3 – Romance

Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hello to all who have decided to follow along as I post for 21 days straight as part of our church fast. As you can see, each entry is numbered as a particular day, so if you are reading this and the title above doesn’t say Day 1, then you should stop now and go read from Day 1, or take a peek at Day 2 and pick a topic you are interested in. Thanks for being brave enough to join me.

It’s Day 3 of my 21-day post sequence and I know many of you are wondering “is this just some kind of Internet confessional?” and are about to quit reading from either boredom or horror. Bear with me for this post, as it does have a point.

It is time to play some self-imposed “truth or dare”.

Want to know a big, ugly, weird, juicy, truth about me?

Sure you do…

I’m a heart-fluttering-weepy-falling-over-stupid romantic. Yep, I confess, that’s me. It will never, ever come up unless I bring it up, so here it is. Welcome to my hidden thoughts…

I’m a sucker for a good love song (The Cure’s Love Song or Dave Matthew’s You & Me are good examples), a sad break-up song (Liykke Li’s Possibility* and The Cure’s Apart both prime examples), various Nicholas Cage movies (The Family Man, It Could happen To You, City of Angels), some Nicholas Sparks books/movies, and even crazy stupid romances like Twilight (you are free to laugh hysterically at this point, if you didn’t start laughing at “Nicholas Cage”).

People like me love both the romances that make perfect sense and those that don’t. The real question is why are we drawn to contrivances such as impossible romances? Isn’t love and romance hard enough without fighting social norms, ridiculous twists of fate, and death itself? I would wager we (us romantics) have been fascinated with the impossible romances since even before Romeo and Juliet.

Which is why all kinds of people were drawn to Twilight…all three books and four movies. We’re drawn to stories where it seems impossible any peace or equilibrium can be found in a potential relationship. We’re particularly drawn to stories where a huge sacrifice must be made by one or the other romantic partner, or by both of them, to make the romance work. Twilight has this motif in spades. City of Angels also invokes this theme of ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of love. Sometimes it works out great, a la Twilight, sometimes not, as in City of Angels (oops, mini-spoiler).

We like to see the happy couple stay together forever after overcoming such adversity. Sometimes we get that glimpse, sometimes we don’t. It all depends on what idea the story creator wants us to take away from the story. Does the author want us to believe it is better to love deeply for only a brief moment in time after overcoming all odds, or does he want us to finish the story, or movie, with a perfect sense of “all is well” because the main couple fought and overcame <insert terrible adversity here>? Some would argue one is better than the other. I find them equally satisfying, if the author does their job correctly.

When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies of all time. I tell my wife that is “our” movie. Some couples have “their” song…we have “our” movie. The movie is about friends who eventually become lovers, who eventually marry, but along the way fight with every fiber of their being at various times to reach a different goal. The movie falls into the “leave the viewer happy” category, and not just for the main protagonists.

Other movies, like The NotebookThe Family Man, and City of Angels all show the work and/or sacrifice that went into the relationship, but leave the viewer, if not sad, at least a bit melancholy at the end. We see incredible devotion and love displayed by those in the relationship, and we see them happy, for a bit, then the movie shifts and moves on, just like time moves on.

I have to admit that romance as portrayed in books and movies is usually problematic. That’s part of what draw us to them. My favorite book/movie series to pick on, Twilight, has all kinds of problems and has been lambasted by critics for its glaring relationship issues (but I’ve read the entire series at least three times). Books and movies by Nicholas Sparks are so dependant on outlandish twists of fate that we all usually breathe easier because we don’t have to suffer through what his characters experience. But we still indulge in escaping to those fictional landscapes, if only to shake our heads at the characters as they struggle.

We haven’t even touched on one of the the most difficult aspects of most book and movie relationships, that of the “love triangle”, where gut-wrenching, heart-rending decisions have to be made by the characters involved. Sometimes the author will ease us out of that frightful tension with a unicorn-and-rainbow solution (see the Twilight series, from New Moon to Eclipse to Breaking Dawn), but sometimes they will not (see The Notebook and the decidedly unromantic Hunger Games series), and we have to vicariously experience the heartbreak and fallout from someone’s decision. At least it is vicarious, and not real.

Yes, love, romance and relationships are hard enough without crippling diseases, terrible accidents, and <gasp> vampires. Why do we subject ourselves to the fictional heartache? Don’t we have enough hurt to deal with? Maybe, but we get to experience, and then discard (sometimes with effort) the pain and suffering of another, and maybe, just maybe, experience a taste of unrepentant and wildly ridiculous romance without disrupting our real lives. Catharsis is a powerful tool and running ourselves through the wringer of fictional, impossible romance every now and then is probably healthy (but I’m no expert).

So what is the point, you ask? I remember; you were promised a point. The point is that as much as these crazy, impossible, fictional romances may appeal to (some) of us, the greatest, craziest, most possible of impossible love stories is that of our God desiring to be in communion with us, his children. This REAL love story has it all – a complete lack of equilibrium, an unimaginable sacrifice, even a happily-ever-after. It outshines all other love stories ever written. May the love of God wrap you up in complete contentment, or as complete as it can get on this earth, for the duration of the fast and beyond.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! I sincerely hope it was worth it to you and that you will continue to read along with my fasting journey.

*This song, I believe, was originally written as a break up song, but the sequence of scenes it is used with in New Moon make it even more wrenchingly impactful. I can’t listen to the song without hearing Bella’s desperate screams of emptiness. Stupid romantic…

Photo Credit – Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

21 Days of Posts – Day 2 – New Year’s To-Do List

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hello to all who have decided to follow along as I post for 21 days straight as part of our church fast. As you can see, each entry is numbered as a particular day, so if you are reading this and the title above doesn’t say Day 1, then you should stop now and go read from Day 1. Thanks for being brave enough to join me.

Welcome to Day 2 of 21 days of posts corresponding to the 21-day fast being observed at our church. Today, I am going to go into more detail about something I mentioned on Day 1 – my 2020 To-Do list.

I gave up on New Year’s resolutions about two decades ago and in the last few years I’ve turned to creating a To-Do list for the year. I admitted on Day 1 that my frustration was that my list never seemed to change much from year to year. In the interest of full transparency, here is my list for 2020. You may chuckle, laugh, and snicker as much as you like, I can’t hear it.

  1. Finish writing a book
  2. Sing more – at the college and at church
  3. Read more (a book a month)
  4. Take more vacation days (and use them effectively)
  5. Continue having daily devotions
  6. Pray even more
  7. Continue to teach my son to drive
  8. Go to even more parties and events
  9. Tell my wife I love her every day
  10. Talk with my mom more (at least once a week)
  11. Regularly communicate with my daughter
  12. Try something new every month
  13. Walk on the beach more (requires vacation – see #4)
  14. Post more blog entries (at least two a month)
  15. Build stuff
  16. Show love more
  17. Lose more weight (~205 would be nice)
  18. Walk/exercise more
  19. Continue to fix the house
  20. Chase the lion…

You see that some are interdependent (#4 and #13, for example), and others are redundant (#1 and #20, as explained on Day 1). Some have been there for four or more years, but there are a couple of new ones.

Item #15 is new. I want to build stuff. Woodworking, crafting, and “making” are all on my radar for this year and I hope to build both useful (having a definite purpose) and useless (having a more subjective purpose) things. I never used to want to create things, at least not since I quit building with Lego pieces. Now I want to make things to help and things to appreciate.

Item #16 is a variant of a previous year’s item. Saying this phrase out loud feels odd, like the words are supposed to be in that order, but that is the order I need them in. I don’t have a problem loving people, but I do have a problem with showing that love, so #16 is huge this year. I’ll explain in a later post, or posts, why #16 is so hard for me and maybe it will sound and feel familiar to you. If so, let me know and we can encourage each other to show love more.

Item #19 is new also, a direct result of buying a house and finding all of the things that need fixed. We knew when we bought it that there would be a long list of updates and repairs, but we’ve been surprised at least three times now. I’m kind of done with surprises with the house…I want to fix what I know is wrong/broken/messed up before discovering anything else.

All I know is that if I can do half of the things on this list, I believe I will feel like I accomplished something come January 2021, and maybe I can add some new items to the list. If I accomplish them all, then I believe I will feel as if I caught that lion…

 

Before I completely sign off for today, here is a fairly solid, numbered list of topics for each day. This way you can pick and choose which posts you want to read. Just imagine that each numbered entry says “day” in front of it.

  1. Jan. 5th – Discombobulation
  2. Jan. 6th – New Year’s To-Do List – you are here…
  3. Jan. 7th – Romance – Twilight vs the real thing
  4. Jan. 8th – Rejection
  5. Jan. 9th – Writing (in general)
  6. Jan. 10th – Hope
  7. Jan. 11th – Disappointment
  8. Jan. 12th – Why I write about relationships
  9. Jan. 13th – The Christian life – our plans vs God’s plans
  10. Jan. 14th – Why I like to listen to The Cure
  11. Jan. 15th – The Christian life – contentment
  12. Jan. 16th – Hurt
  13. Jan. 17th – Chasing the lion
  14. Jan. 18th – Why I like to listen to Marshmello
  15. Jan. 19th – Why I write about impossible decisions
  16. Jan. 20th – The church as a body
  17. Jan. 21st – Contributing talents to the church
  18. Jan. 22nd – Why I like to listen to Billie Eilish
  19. Jan. 23rd – Why I write about broken characters
  20. Jan. 24th – Connection between people
  21. Jan. 25th – The Christian life – learning and pruning

 

Photo credit – Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash