Is Rejection Divine Protection?

I heard that saying on a podcast today. Sara and Erin Foster, daughters of music legend, David Foster, are designers, investors, writers, and power entrepreneurs. They are also funny as all get out. The title of their podcast debut: “The World’s First Podcast,” should tell you all you know to know about their schtick.

This phrase they used—my first time hearing it: “rejection is divine protection,” intrigued me. Because in my life, I can honestly say the bum deals, disappointments, and heartbreaks have truly been my dodging of bullets. And since I am a person of faith, I have often attributed said dodging of bullets to being pivoted from certain disaster by a power much greater—and smarter—than myself.

The concept of the divine to someone else could mean a belief in the universe, in a deity belonging to certain religions, to God himself. But wherever you stake your claim of faith or don’t, have you ever thought about things in this way? This idea that the boyfriend dumping you protected you from a horrific divorce down the road. Or how the job you lost pushed you to pursue a different passion that has become lucrative and more fulfilling than you imagined. What about pursuing a life goal where you find yourself thwarted at every turn? Why do you ask? It’s a good goal, why is everything going wrong? Perhaps that divine protection is saving your behind from something bad you can’t see.

To believe in the idea of divine protection is faith. Why believe something bigger than yourself is looking out for you? To accept that is to acknowledge that you are cared for by something you can’t see. Seems kind of ridiculous. I get it.

But like I said if I take a few moments with myself and look back (you know, how hindsight is 20/20?) I can see it. The dumping by the ex-boyfriend who bummed me out for much too long my junior year of college, was divine protection, intervention, salvation—all of that. I’m 100% positive that had I had my foolish 20-year-old wish to wind up with him (sooooo stupid!), we’d either be miserable beyond compare, I would have serious mental issues, family dynamics would be absolute hell, and I would be a very, very different person. And that’s if we hadn’t divorced it. If we did divorce, God only knows how that might have panned out for me in terms of finances, mental health, motherhood. Oh, my goodness, I shudder.

So that one school year of being in a funk led me to develop myself spiritually and emotionally. I proceeded to waste time on another waste of time, where again, a bullet was dodged. At the time, of course, it did a bit of a number on my self-esteem. However, that divine protection kept me from going down another bad road where again my life would be in the crapper had that worked out for me the way I wanted it to at the time.

I think I’ll podcast a storytime about all that this weekend, so stay tuned (The WiloPod on Spotify and Apple). In the meantime, if you feel like you’ve been dealt with a series of failures, perhaps it’s time to get still with yourself and look hard. What you perceive as something not going your way could very well be that divine protection that 1. Has kept you from a danger you can’t conceive of and 2. Might just be the impetus you need to pursue the right dream, the right course of action, the right person, the right life—for you.

Think about that. Perhaps this current rejection, loss, or heartbreak is all about getting you to be exactly where you need to be.

Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

It’s Ok to Be Sad For as Long as You Need To

During the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college, I dated this guy that I fell hard for. It was a great summer. But when we returned to campus for Fall quarter, I was dumped at the end of our first week of classes. I was blindsided. He, I believe, saw some fresh new faces in his classes. Lest I sound like I’m still bitter 25 years later, I’m not. Things 100% turned out as they should for a few years after that, I married my soul mate, and what I thought was love with this other dude, was not once I met my husband and found out what real love was.

But back then, oh boy did it sting. I was never the type of girl who had lots of dates and lots of options. I truly didn’t enjoy the game that went along with being a single co-ed. All I ever wanted was my person. When one is 19-turning-20 in a relationship, it’s all too easy to get swept up in thinking about “the one.” What gets dangerous is when in your naiveté you don’t see the total picture, ignore the subtle warning, and especially in the context of being Christian, think you can pray all problems away. So, in retrospect, the dumping was God saving me from my foolishness and while it hurt, it was the right thing for me.

That said, I was gutted. At the start of a new quarter, now I had to hold it together on a small campus where bumping into him was highly likely and highly unwanted. I cried nearly every day for the first couple of weeks. I had never felt so low as I did then and it’s very true—first loves can be brutal.

I’d start to feel better about things and try to feign that I was cool when I’d see him. The reality was my stomach was in knots and my heart would be pounding out of my chest when we crossed paths. But I thought (foolishly so), that perhaps in creating a friendship and playing it very cool on the surface, he’d soon see what a dumb mistake he made in letting me go. Oh… I shuddered just writing that.

But then I’d see him talking to some girl and I’d be bummed all over again. It didn’t help that there no one else on campus to shift my attention to—no pleasant diversions to be found. I got to a point of normalcy for the most part, by winter break. Then we went on a trip overseas and I came back to find out he was dating someone! And kill me—she was in my Tuesday/Thursday 1 p.m. class! I found out because I saw them driving back to campus after lunch one of those days and then I noticed girlfriend was always late to class. Can you imagine trying to concentrate on the coursework then?

It tripped up my sadness—and anger now—all over again.

My family was sympathetic for about one week after the breakup. But when my tears kept going for weeks after, any compassion quickly soured to irritation and indifference. Thus, I made sure to shut down at home. It was not a safe place to feel my feels. My girlfriends were sweet and understanding through the more than eight months it took me to finally be over the whole thing, but I know I tried them.

The thing is, while it is hard for friends and family to deal with someone dealing with grief, sadness, and all that comes with it, the timetable of that is not their call to make. I dearly wished I could have shut off the hurt valve and rallied on to enjoy college life for whatever else it had to offer. But my soul was a sensitive one—especially at age 20—and it was as if I had no control over the waves that would wash over me.

I did what I was supposed to do: stayed busy, focused on good friends, worked out, trying new things, etc. But deep down, I was very much still licking my wounds. When you think about the fact that our relationship was just months, I should have been feeling better rather quickly, right? Not so.

One of the sweetest encouragements given to me in those gloomy days (my junior year was a bust, y’all), was a note from my best friend’s mom. I still remember what she said in her flowery and beautiful penmanship. “Emotions will come in waves, give an ear to them as they come.” At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what that meant. I wanted to feel better. I didn’t want to hurt. I didn’t want anyone mad at me for being such a pile of Eeyore-level malaise all the time. But what she was trying to tell me was that to heal, you must ride out each wave of grief as it comes, but what you don’t realize is happening is that each wave is moving you forward.

I’ve reflected on that note so much since. We don’t have control over the sadness that ensues when we lose someone or something important to us. But we don’t need to fight the waves when they come. Allow them and let the feelings out as they need to. Give them an ear and let them wash through and out. You aren’t staying stagnant in your hurt, you are working your hurt out.

To family and friends that think someone is taking too long (in their opinion) for a person to “get over” whatever they are mourning, either support them with kindness or shut your mouth. While it is important to look out for our hurting people to make sure they are not going into darker depression or deeper issues (and if they are, help them get help), your most important role is to be a soft place on which to land for them. That’s all.

And if you are mourning a loss right now, keep taking steps forward at the pace that feels comfortable to you. Don’t fight your emotions, but give them the space they require, knowing that while the pain of loss will always be there, it does progressively get easier, and easier.

And you are not alone. 🙂

Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash

Let Down by Your Faith Leaders?

I got a news alert this morning that a lead pastor of one of the Hillsong campuses was busted in a sex scandal. Not the first of this kind of crisis to rock the megachurch monolith.

The late world-renowned evangelist and Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias went to his eternal rest under a cloud of suspicion regarding sexual misconduct. Allegations have not only multiplied since he passed but have been corroborated. Turns out, while he brought the message of Christ to the masses, he existed in a very different world than we thought.

The evangelical Christian church. Praising God, filling mega-churches, supporting missions around the world. Trump worshippers, anti-maskers, and vaxxers, extending love to everyone as long as they fit a very specific profile.

What do you do when your faith leaders turn out to be anything but faithful people? What happens to your faith when the people you’ve looked up to as leaders, mentors, and examples show you just how very human they are?

The answer for many is to leave the entire thing. Rid oneself of the toxicity and hypocrisy of it all. Flee from the piety of the dishonest and never look back. It makes sense.

When people of faith who profess to live a life of Godliness live secret lives of anything but, a lot of folks are going to get hurt. Departing from the mess that is sometimes organized religion is logical to anyone who has suffered a crisis of faith as a result of the incredible letdown that occurs when things like this happen. I get it.

But here’s something to remember. The church is made of people. People are the church. And people screw up. Christ is not the church. He is above all of it. He does not screw up. When those whose very humanity—riddled with all their faults and shortcomings—reveal how very lost they truly are, it’s not Christ that is the problem.

My very bold statement: Christ and the church are not one and the same. So, when the church and its human leaders let you down, the fault lies not on Christ. If anything, He is the only good that will ever be found in all of it. Human beings are flawed. Christ is not.

The blunder of many believers, of people of faith, lies in exalting humans to being on par with Christ. Unconsciously or not, that is always a grave error. I have heard of pastors referred to as men and women of God, which is to sometimes elevate flawed humans to quasi-deities. So very wrong and blasphemous. Men and women work for God; they are not, in any way, working in the same realm as Him.

So, what does all this mean? The pastors and spiritual leaders who have lied, cheated, and abused while hidden behind a pulpit are as culpable and subject to accountability as any person. And they must be held up to their wrongdoing. It is Christ’s mercy and forgiveness that any redemption can be found.

But they don’t hold the keys to transformative faith, to a walk with Christ. That is entirely between an individual and Jesus Christ himself. The flaws and failures of the clergy, teachers, and the entire movement itself are on the people. Christ is the one that can be trusted, always, in any situation.

Persons hurt by the pain inflicted within church walls are often right to leave it to find the safety, integrity, and dignity they deserve. But departing from Christ entirely isn’t where it’s at. If anything, He’s the one completely capable of healing you.

Your walk through life doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor, even if your faith background has let you down. Humans are flawed little specks in the big scheme of things. Bet the ranch on Someone much, much bigger … and completely trustworthy.

Content Creation and Responsibility

Years ago, the concept of making a video or writing a blog, or recording a podcast wasn’t considered the best practice in terms of effective persuasion and marketing. How things have changed.

I fully fess up to trying new products based on the product reviews of someone on YouTube or reading about it on a blog. When I’m considering a purchase of basically anything from the mundane to the important, the first place I’ll start at Google and dive down the rabbit hole to content creators sharing their thoughts on whatever it is I’m considering buying at the time. I’ll try a product at a special deal when it pops up on my Instagram feed, I will save memes that inspire me and make me think—often sharing them with someone who would appreciate it.

I devote a block of time at the end of my workday to watch Tik Tok because I’ve found it to highly educational in addition to entertaining. Indeed, important ideas about politics, social justice, activism, and education have found a place to influence others on an app that first spawned a million dance interpretations. For me, as much as I appreciate entertainment value in digital content, their ability to provide new perspectives and food for thought is what has fascinated me, especially in the last couple of years.

But while finding new recipes, other people who share similar viewpoints, and innocent videos that do nothing more than provide laughter seem innocent, we are well aware of how easily the tide can turn.

One post that just hits wrong, and the wave of popularity and trustworthiness attached to leading influencers can evaporate in heartbeat. But the issues are about so much more than branding gone awry. Content creators have power. And with power comes great responsibility.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately—while I’m far from being a creator that is on anyone’s radar, someone in my small following surely gets something from what I put out. So, it’s entirely up to me to influence what it is that person is getting. I can depress someone. I can make someone laugh. I can encourage someone. I can give someone something to think about. I can build someone up, or I could potentially tear them down.

What I have appreciated most about blogging is that this little corner of the world is my place for sharing my thoughts. And for anyone who knows me well enough, they know I don’t mince words. When I’m feeling righteous indignation about a topic, I’ll spout off. I know what is in my heart, but perhaps others don’t. Do I come off like someone who really cares or am I just ranting? There’s a thin line between the two.

It is important to remember that when creating content to be shared with the public, it is important to be true to yourself, to be authentic. People smell fakes a mile away, so putting on pretenses is a foolish errand to go on. But remember and remind yourself of this audience—whatever the size—and acknowledge the power you have to do good or make things worse.

Knowledge is power. Content creators wield immense power in the knowledge they are supplying. Be wise. Be empathetic. Share well.

Photos by S O C I A L . C U T and dusan jovic on Unsplash

Justice Served?

I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said. “But it is accountability, which is the first step toward justice.”*

Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd last year, by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes was found guilty of all three charges brought against him today. And a lot of people around the world breathed a collective sigh of relief.

For all the progress that has been made in civil rights over the last 50 years, it is evident that so much more work lies ahead of us. Daunté Wright’s murder just days ago is a testament to that fact. The last four years under a Donald Trump presidency have, if anything, exemplified to great effect the ugliness of systemic racism and ignorance that continues to poison the United States of America to this day.

But many well-meaning folks were just not sure a jury would convict a white police officer of killing a black man—even now in 2021. They are not off base in thinking that.

The verdict today has given relief to the family of George Floyd, renewed hope that perhaps the trajectory of justice will now arc forward in the history of this country and race relations. But as Minnesota AG Ellison said, “justice implies true restoration” and if we all know one thing: we are not there yet.

But accountability is supremely important and as Ellison added, is the first step toward justice. We got that today. Accountability. Truth. Evidence. The defense could not find a leg to stand on in the face of the most damning witness there could have been: Darnella Frazier’s video. Had that courageous young woman not had the gumption to record this crime, which was witnessed by many, Derek Chauvin might have walked free and easy today.

Had that happened, God help us. Tonight would have been a night where the collective anguish and righteous indignation of Americans who are not blinded by racism would have exploded in a way no one needs right now. We breathe sighs of relief tonight that that anger has been quelled, however temporary. And we breathe a sigh of relief because the law was carried out and it was necessary.

But there was another life that was wasted today. Derek Chauvin’s actions have robbed him of his freedom and the life he will never regain. No one knows the true motive of the man’s heart the day he took the God-given breath of life from another human being. But he had a choice—as we always do—to be better. To do better. To offer mercy. In taking the life of another who was of no threat to him, Chauvin said no. And that’s on him.

George Floyd was not a perfect man. But whatever he was in the eyes of the people who knew him best, the public who both mourned him and questioned him, or the racists that will always cry, “they should have complied,” he didn’t deserve to die.

Nothing will bring Floyd back to the people who loved him. And now Derek Chauvin will live out his days under the very same denial of liberty and possibility as those he sought to fight when he was on the outside. On top. As a man in blue.

Lives can change when facing their days of reckoning. And maybe it will be so for Chauvin. We can only hope.

For hope is what we were given today, and it’s just the shot of energy we need to stay in the fight.

Black Lives Matter

*https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/derek-chauvin-verdict-reached-trial-over-george-floyd-s-death-n1264565

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash