Updated: Apr 16, 2021
Rejection or Relentless Pursuit?
We all get those gifts we don't want.
Maybe you got a few of them this year.
If you're like me, they either get returned or added to the regift pile.
Or this year, a few things were added to my lovely, white elephant gift exchange bag.
Right before the holidays, I gathered with a small group of friends and mentors to have dinner and give gifts.
Before you think, "Aww, that's sweet." Well, first of all it was sweet. But, it's not what you are thinking.
These gifts were "special" - things we no longer wanted or needed. I took the "walk through your house and find the things you don't want anymore" instruction literally.
My gift was a large reusable shopping bag filled with random things like a planter (with a little dirt to give it character), a box of sparkling water minus one can because I didn't end up liking the flavor as much as I appreciated the colorful box, night cream because this version didn't play nice with my skin, an old frame and an ornament. A few samples of skin care were thrown in for good measure.
True, everyone gave things they had found at home, but I missed one important detail. These things were all NEW. Unopened.
Mine were mostly "gently used."
So yes, my gift was the unwanted gift this year. I knew it. We all knew it. Hysteria broke loose through the living room as the lucky recipient began pulling out one ridiculous item at a time.
I'll try to be more prepared next year. Or, on second thought, I may just keep the hysteria going.
Still to be determined...
Swipe Left, Swipe Right, Wait. Which Way Do I Swipe?!
Just the other day, I met up with a friend for dinner.
We shared fajitas and caught up on the unexpected events of our days. Somewhere between too many chips and salsa and sopapillas drenched in sugary sweetness (not dusted, drenched), we started talking about her online dating experience.
Remembering she just got back on the saddle this last week, I said, "Oh yeah! How's that going?!"
Her response brought an outpouring of laughter. If we were the sopapillas, laughter would be the icing. We were drenched! I'm sure we were making quite the scene in the somewhat empty restaurant (thanks to the pandemic).
I was hoping, and even expecting, to hear the casual response of one or two interests surfacing or maybe even the "Oh, I don't know. It still feels a little weird, but it's only the first week."
Instead, with pauses between every word, she said, "It is NOT going well. Actually, it couldn't be WORSE!"
It may seem merciless to laugh at this, but it's not. I promise, we'll get to that later.
The dating scene, it's not easy. Holidays make it harder. Add Covid to the mix and gosh, it's tough! Since I haven't stepped into the online dating scene myself, I was intrigued to hear more.
She continued, pulling out her phone to show me visuals of this gosh-awful experience. "Well, for starters, this guy hasn't asked me a single question until I didn't respond yesterday and then his first question to me was 'What's up?' So yeah... he's OUT."
We scrolled through the various chats, or lack thereof, which had taken place. One eligible bachelor thought it was best to provide two headshots of himself - one with a longer beard and another with a shorter beard, both with a smolder look in his eyes, as if to say, "Ladies, take your pick!"
So back to why we were laughing so hard at all of this... The weekend before when she mentioned she was going to try dating apps again, she also shared her prayer in all of this.
It's a simple yet powerful prayer.
"Lord, make this path clear to me. Bless this or give me no desire for it; may it never even get started if it's not what You have for me."
Now, sitting at a table with a basket of chips, salsa, and queso (free queso is an Oklahoma thing I can get on board with), we laughed at the way God has answered her prayer so poignantly.
It's not the response she wanted right now. She wanted someone to show interest, ask questions, and pursue her. Instead she got the unwanted gift of a lack of conversation, let alone a spark.
I share her pain because, although I have never tried online dating to this point, I have experienced the unwanted gift of singleness.
This Year was Tough!
I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. We've been through some major, life-altering experiences this year. From sickness to financial burdens to quarantine to having to close businesses and finding other ways to make ends meet, it's safe to say, this year was unwanted.
But, for me, it has proven to be the unwanted gift.
Starting 2020, I thought my life would be quite different right now. I thought 2020 would hold an engagement and even a wedding.
It did - several actually, but I wasn't the one wearing white.
And it's a good thing for both of us.
Just because he's great and she's great, it doesn't always mean they're great together.
Sometimes you wish you could hate the other person. That almost makes the heartbreak easier. Instead, I didn't hate him. But we knew this was the end of the road for us.
The trek from that road to the road I'm on now was like walking in the wilderness. But, as God likes to do, He used this season of wilderness in my life. He walked beside me and did not let the rejection wreck me. He showed me when I'm empty with nothing left to give, He is enough.
He led me to write down a single prayer - a prayer I was not enthusiastic to write or even say. I didn't think I'd have anything to say. My heart was sad, but, even more, it was numb with the sudden drop of everything I was holding onto and counting on.
I grabbed a plain white piece of paper and started writing. The next day, He led me to do the same. Then, the next. Oh yeah, and I should mention, this was all during quarantine. Great timing for a heartbreak. I meant that sarcastically - another unwanted experience God turned into a gift.
It was certainly not what I planned, but fast forward a few weeks and the prayers I wrote became my first book. Fast forward a few months and I broke out of my shell and fear of failure and fear of what everyone might think of me and started a blog.
So if you're enjoying reading these stories and whispers of my heart, you can thank God for that. It's all because of Him and for Him.
Fast forward a few more months and I get turned down from a well-known author's writing class. I would've thought this would surely be enough to crush me and cause me to stop believing in what God has laid on my heart, but it didn't. For some reason, it really didn't faze me. Yet again, He didn't let the rejection wreck me. Looking back, it had to be God's protection for me.
Fast forward a week or two, I hear about another opportunity with another well-known author, and I join Bob Goff's writing class!
For eight weeks, I've been pinching myself! I am learning how to write and prepare for publishing by the man who wrote Love Does, Everybody Always, and Dream Big!
I've had the pleasure of reading his books and listening to him speak, and now, it's been an absolute joy to be welcomed into his home (virtually, of course) and call him Coach. Y'all, I'm learning how to become a better writer from the man beneath the Boston Red Sox cap!
Someone pinch me, please!
It's a joy I may not have known had things worked out the way I had planned this time last year. Don't get me wrong. I believe God can use anything to lead us to do what He needs us to do. For me, He just happened to use heartbreak to get my attention. But had I not surrendered to that still small voice to start writing, I may have missed this opportunity He was preparing for me.
Ah, "pinch me" doesn't even begin to describe my surprise! God did not allow the first opportunity because He had something else in store for me. He needed me to grow as a storyteller and allow God's goodness to shine through. He wanted to prepare me for next steps in the publishing process. He wanted to encourage me to DREAM BIG.
It's been such an incredible gift. I've seen God lead me and teach me through every piece I've written thus far. I've felt closer to Him and seen Him more clearly than I have in my entire life.
I don't know what He has in store for me or for the writing He has laid so heavily upon my heart, but I believe these dreams are BIG! He's taken over the driver seat for my life and I'm along for the crazy, fun ride of a lifetime!
That's what surrender does.
Like my friend prayed, "Lord, make this path clear to me. Bless this or give me no desire for it; may it never even get started if it's not what You have for me."
I surrender what I want to You. I make you Lord of my life.
Whether it's our dating lives, our marriages, our families, our careers, our health, our passions and ambitions, or something else, let's pray this simple yet powerful prayer over it. Let's give it over to God and see what He can do through us!
2020 for me was a year of the unwanted gift of rejection that God turned into beauty and encouragement my soul desperately needed.
What has been your unwanted gift this year? The thing you didn't want but now see as God's relentless pursuit of your heart and provision for you? Can He really take something as messy as a pile of financial ruin from a lost business or as ugly as a divorce and make it into something beautiful?
Yes, that's what He does. That's who He is. He is our Redeemer. We just have to surrender it to Him and let Him be Lord of our lives and our hearts.
May we draw strength from surrender and joy as we remember the good things He does for us (even if unwanted at the time). May we find peace in His purpose for our lives and rest knowing He is in the driver seat - we don't have to know all the answers because He already does.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. - Psalm 103:2
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!