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