When the people who should love you don't.
The whole first day is like a bad dream.
Your tectonic plates have shifted, leaving a vast expanse of wild sea where there was solid land. Your world will be different from now on. You know that, but you can’t believe it.
You go through the rhythms in a daze. You make the meals. You drive the kids. You try to stand outside and get your bearings.
But all the while, your brain keeps going back over and over that terrible moment when you realized everything had changed.
Maybe there were words spoken. Maybe written.
"I’m done with you."
"I’m moving on."
"Leave me alone."
"You’re dead to me."
Cruel words. Words coming from a face that you thought you knew better.
When this happened to me, I remember the sensation of falling. Somehow my body felt the crash of my soul.
I had dreams that night of stumbling into an old, moss-covered well that tunneled thousands of feet down into the earth. As I plummeted into the darkness, faces emerged from the moss, faces of people I loved and trusted, faces that smiled at first then morphed into monsters.
It was like a death, but worse somehow. In a death, you get to keep the person you loved. Betrayal steals the past, stains it, destroys every memory.
You want to fight. You want to explain. You want to redo.
You want to retract the hope you once had so that the throbbing can stop.
But before the pain subsides, wave after wave of new consequences come.
A tape begins to self-construct as the enemy of your soul circles above death with a carrion’s cry.
“You are damaged.”
“If you had only been more...”
“God doesn’t see you. He doesn’t care. He won’t intervene…”
“This is how the whole world works. “
“Nobody is safe.”
“You are incompetent.”
“You are damaged goods.”
“This rejection defines you.”
“This rejection names you.”
When it happened to me, I got in my car and drove through tears, yelling and shaking. I had to go to the place it had happened, and I had to see with my own eyes. I had to feel the walls with my two hands.
I grieved so hard for so long. I was angry. I was disoriented. I was lost. I grasped for whatever would float.
They should have loved me better. And they should have loved you better, too.
I want you to know that rejection is unjust. You’re right to be shocked, right to be struggling to breathe.
There’s no shame in your knees buckling.
I also want you to know that this will become an opportunity. It will become an opportunity to stare your worst fears in the face and learn to stand your ground. This sorrow will not be wasted.
Truth you have recited with your lips, truth you have embraced with your mind, this is about to get real. You’re about to learn to walk in two worlds at once.You’re about to face the Balrog. You’re about to feel the hot wrath of hell. You’re about to find out how much your soul’s enemy hates you.
You’re also about to look behind the temple curtain and find that what you always hoped would hold firm is firm indeed.
Soon you’re going to hear the voice of God telling you what is true of you, and this time, that voice will sound different than it ever has sounded before. It won’t be muddled up by background noise--this time your world will grow still and dark, and He will whisper over you, “Let there be light.”
And there will be light, and that light will be good. I want you to believe the name he gives you when this happens. It will be a clean, strong name. It will be regal, and intimate, and bright.
His name for you will seem too good to be true because you will feel wrong, all wrong, and filthy, and ugly, and worn, and unwanted.
You will be tempted to let the pain of human rejection limit God's embrace, but listen to me—tell Him those lies that throw themselves up like arms before a blow—give Him the lethal words you are tempted to believe—and then be willing to hear beyond them.
Trust what He says, not what you feel.
When you have learned to recognize the voice of the Shepherd, I want you to go stand under an open sky with wind in your hair and the peace of God swelling up in your heart. Say, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away--then the Lord giveth again. Blessed be the name of the Lord, the God who sees me."
Blessed be the God who anoints your head with oil. Blessed be the God who lifts your chin and claims you as His own.
That is the end of your pain: love, and love, and love forever more. Lo, he is with you now and always, even to the ends of the loves of a bruised and battered earth.