The first time a good friend “broke up” with me in middle school, I ran home crying to my mom.
She patiently listened as I detailed every aspect of our friendship, everything we said, everything that happened the last time we had a sleepover at her house. I spent hours agonizing over what I must have missed—some glaring sign I had ruined everything.
What did I do wrong? I asked my mom.
Nothing, honey. Sometimes people have their own reasons for being unkind to us.
I didn’t believe a word she said. Surely it was my fault! I must have said something that offended my once-friend. Or maybe she thought I wasn’t fun enough. Or she totally misunderstood something I said, and I could fix it if we just had a conversation.
Saying No to the Shame Spiral
I wish I could’ve fully embraced my mom’s wisdom in that moment. It would have saved me a lot of heartache and undue pressure. But I still struggle with blindsiding rejections.
In situations like my failed middle school friendship, I still hold onto the belief that—somehow—I did something wrong.
Do you ever feel this way? Like every painful situation that comes your way is your fault? Maybe your partner withdraws from you and you think, I am making them unhappy! Or your kid won’t open up to you about problems at school, and you wonder, Why won’t they talk to me? What am I not doing right?
If this is you, I feel for you. This is such a hard, exhausting way to live each day.
But there is hope! I felt a weight lift off my shoulders when I realized many of my questions were rooted in an unhealthy perspective of guilt and control. I felt like I should be able to control the outcome of situations, so I felt guilty when they didn’t turn out positively. But that isn’t how God works! Being “right” or “good” doesn’t mean you’ll avoid rejection, pain, or heartache.
Long to find a way out of this cycle of guilt? Take some time to meditate on these truths from God’s Word:
The Bible tells us that pain and rejection are a normal part of life. Bad things happen to us, even when we are being loving and kind.
I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world! — John 16:33 (GNTD)
You cannot control everything. But you can rest in the knowledge that God knows you, loves you, and will take care of you.
The Lord is near to those who are discouraged;
he saves those who have lost all hope.
Good people suffer many troubles,
but the Lord saves them from them all;
the Lord preserves them completely;
not one of their bones is broken. — Psalm 34:18-20 (GNTD)
It’s okay to fail—to miscommunicate, forget. You are only human. But God is bigger than any of your failures, and he loves you no matter what.
But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! — Romans 5:8 (GNTD)
Take some time to remember the gifts God instilled in you. Maybe you’re a gifted singer, teacher, basketball player. Think of all the ways God delights in you. Thank God for loving and guiding you every day.
The Lord your God is with you;
his power gives you victory.
The Lord will take delight in you,
and in his love he will give you new life.
He will sing and be joyful over you. — Zephaniah 3:17 (GNTD)
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