3 ways standing TALL amidst disappointment and rejection helped heal me from depression
In the past 3 months, I received 4 rejection letters (for opportunities I had hoped for) and the 5th one took my breath away momentarily. This email came just as suddenly as the others had, as bad news usually does. As I waited for a yes or a no, I fully understood that it could go either way. I was as prepared as I could be, but disappointment still managed to overpower my confidence in God’s timing. The moments that I’d hope would be spent marveling at new beginnings were spent attempting not to break down in tears.
Life taught me, as I’m sure we can all agree, that when we are hurting –we drown our pain with something. Our natural response is far from thanking God for closing a door that we wanted to pry open. Our mind’s say: Let’s shop. Let’s drink. Let’s do drugs. Let’s have sex. Let’s scroll on social media. Let’s do something besides SIT in what we are feeling.
In other words, let me find something to do with what I feel that takes away the uncomfortableness of not feeling in control.
There was nothing more soul crushing than disappointment. Except maybe rejection.
Disappointment literally means the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.
I can not think of anything more disappointing than finding yourself living a life that you did not expect.
Except maybe stepping out on faith to create the life you believe that God has for you and then………NOTHING.
As I struggled to pull myself together, I realized that there was a detrimental truth hidden behind disappointment – This feeling was based off our expectations and our hopes. Which meant that whatever circumstance was causing the feeling of disappointment needed to be addressed.
Usually in my life, the disappointment quickly comes turns to rejection because UNMET expectations and hopes often felt like rejection in my heart. A closed door that God knows when to open– is for me in that moment–still closed. Until I learned to process that, the disappointment of different events in my life kept me in a violent cycle of depression.
It sounds quite simple, even as I type it out, but the mystery of acknowledging my feelings, hid from me for years. I never learned to process my feelings, and processing feelings that have been felt my entire life, from an adult’s perspective was hard for me. A toddler that falls and skins their knee gets soothed and gets reassurance from an adult that they will be fine. A teenager that doesn’t get asked to the dance or chosen on a team learns to be disappointed and still proceed in life. I missed these steps. I learned that negative emotions were to be avoided and when they were unavoidable, I was to find something that was external that would soothe them internally.
In my heart, I didn’t believe that I had the space to feel defeated, sad, disappointed, hopeless, weary, lonely, depressed or even discouraged.Life had taught me that, as a woman, I had to “press through, be strong and don’t let it get me down.” I do agree to a certain extent, that those are aspects of perseverance that have to be worked through. We MUST press through and be strong, but we MUST also acknowledge our feelings to God, who is the one who can help us through them.
In Psalm 69:3 , David says to the Lord: “I am worn out calling for help, My throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. “
In other words, “I am tired Lord. My voice is weak, I can not see you, I am looking for you and I can’t find you.”
In addition to seeing David’s words to the Lord it is important to note that in verse 13 David continues and says, “But I pray to you Lord, in the time of your favor, in your great Love o God, answer me with your pure salvation.”
David didn’t sit down and cry out to God and say “Why won’t you help me? I’m just going to quit. It’s hopeless.” David acknowledged how he felt (worn out, eyes failing) and then he acknowledged (I am praying to you, you are good, show me your favor)
There are too many potential problems that David could have been facing to name, but I am sure that the hopelessness that he felt was universal. I believe the woman who cannot conceive and my list of disappointments can on some levels relate to David’s problems as well.
But the difference in what I was doing and what David did was that in his disappointment and despair he expressed his feelings of hopelessness and unfulfilled expectations. To God and not his facebook page. To God- and not on twitter. To God-and not all of his co-workers.
Throughout all of the descriptions of what David lamented to God, he comes back in verse 16 and says, “answer me Lord, out of the goodness of your love, in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly for I am in trouble.”
My version sounds like this: Lord I know you can fix this? But, why won’t you? Please don’t let this situation take me out. I know you’re good. If you’re not going to fix it, then fix me! I don’t see how I am going to survive this. Help me see it your way so that I can see SOME good in it. I can’t see the good without your eyes.”
By the end of the psalm, David seems more hopeful and less unfulfilled.
And by the end of my prayers so do I.
And this is the foundation for freedom.
To stand tall in the face of disappointment is terrifying.
When you do it alone.
But to stand tall with God is empowering.
I decided to stand tall. And I told God how I felt.
I am lonely. I am tired. I thought that things would be different. I thought that there would be something tangible that I could do that would make my life easier than it is. I thought that there were pieces of my destiny that I could control. When I finally stopped wishing that I was born as someone else, I am left with this life that I must learn to love. Because as I love you, I begin to lean in to your perfect will—which in turn means learning to love the life that you gave me even if I don’t LOVE the circumstances of that life. It means praying when I am lonely instead of scrolling through my timeline or reminiscing on my ex. It means buying what I can afford, not what I want and being content with this season and having the blind faith that I won’t always be living paycheck to paycheck.
The Holy Spirit spoke into my heart and said, “Organize your clothes.”
“Wait, What? What does that have to do with my heart? I just poured it out to you.”
“Do something that needs to be done and that can be done.”
So I did, and although there was no profound moment where heaven met earth and my heart was healed, something did happen.
I began to find peace in my movements, each piece of clothing that I took off the pile, felt purposeful. As I began to sort the clothes, shirts here, underwear there, pants over here, I realized that I was moving, I was creating order in my bedroom. And it felt like it made sense. It felt like it was something that needed to be done and could be done.
This was the key to standing tall in the face of negative emotions (rejection, disappointment, fear) and being able to move past them. I went to God, and he gave me purposeful direction that helped me in that moment with what I was feeling.
This became the pattern over the next few weeks and below are 3 things that I learned during this season:
Expressing my feelings to God helped me process them – When we express our feelings to God, we give him the ability to help us through them. When we tell God that we feel empty, alone and scared, this gives him room to show us things/actions that can help us. Being encouraged by other believers is great, but only God can give revelation to as to HIS will for us. While I would have looked at organizing clothes as a mundane household task, God showed me that I was focusing on something that I could do in that moment and this helped me process my loneliness in that moment.
When I faced my feelings, they no longer had power over me – Once we face the fact about our feelings, they no longer have the power to disrupt our lives. Take for example, my disappointment about the rejection letters. Once I faced it, and let it all out, it no longer had the power to depress me 2 weeks later. I was able to tell myself, “hey this happened a few weeks ago, you expressed to God how you felt, you recognized that closed doors are God’s protection as well and through his leading , there are other endeavors that you are seeking to use your gifts and talents. This feeling is NOT from God!” And just like that I freed myself from thoughts of failure.
I began to understand that it was natural to have negative emotions. – When things happen that cause us to pause in pain, we must learn to deal with them. No one wants to talk about cancer, or car accidents, or financial difficulties that seem endless, or infertility or singleness or marriages that are cracked at the core, or death but these are issues of life. They are all inevitable, and even if they don’t happen to us, they happen to the ones we love. Or even to people we hear about in the news. Your daughter is my daughter, your sister is my sister. Your brother is my brother and so forth. We must all sit together on the stage of grief and express our disappointment in the uncertainty of life. We must all acknowledge that the aches of our soul can only be healed through Jesus Christ and the words that he gives us for application and direction.
Look, there is no formula to depression or life. There is no set of rules that tell us exactly what to do and when to do it, but there are secret treasures hidden in the wings of Jesus that are only accessible through prayer and application. I searched my entire brain looking for something to help the pain go away. I looked for something that would help it not hurt so bad and that would make it bearable. But God’s promises do not promise that we’ll barely make it through, they promise VICTORY. In all things. In all ways. I’ve prayed for this freedom for years before I received it. And maybe for me, I had to keep trying my own ways before I finally was able to stop running from it, to truly give it to the Lord.
My prayer is that regardless of our reasons for being in pain or depression for that matter, we learn to lean in to the pain just a little, so that we can allow God in his overwhelming power to free us from ourselves. I don’t think that I will ever LOVE pain. Or rejection. Or fear. Or disappointment. But I do believe that when I am faced with these feelings in life, I’ll remember that God is always near me, even as close as my skin, and that he has already showed me what to do. I’ll remember that David, a great man in God’s kingdom, fought the same battles that I’ve fought and he persevered because he knew that the victory was greater than the battle. And I’ll return to the Psalms or whichever book in the bible day to day to find this kind of knowledge.
So, while we may find ourselves in situations that we didn’t think we ever would, living lives we never thought we would live, we must understand that disappointment and rejection are mere pit stops on the way to living in full freedom. When we break down our emotions to discover what we are really feeling on the inside, we find God in the midst of it, where he has always been, waiting to help us find our way out.
God will finish the work that he began in you!