by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.
When I was a kid I experienced personal rejection for the very first time. My family lived in a blue collar suburb of Minneapolis and I had a close friend whose name was Mike. Mike and I did everything together for years. We'd walk to and from school together; we'd spend time at each other's homes together; we'd ride our bicycles together; we'd get into trouble together; we did everything together. And then when I was in the 3rd and 4th grades my parents decided to send my brother, sister and I to a parochial school.
I seen less and less of Mike during those two years. My parents finally came to realize they could no longer afford private school anymore for the three of us and sent us back to the public schools when I was in the 5th grade. By that time Mike had changed for the worse. And then out of the blue he just stopped talking to me. In fact, he went from being my best friend to my worst enemy. I was devastated as I'd never experienced personal rejection before and I didn't know how to deal with it. It was like I'd been stabbed in the heart!
Ever since that time, I've experienced personal rejection far to many times throughout my life. Yet I keep opening myself up to others in hopes that I'll form genuine friendships.
Someone once wrote, "To laugh is to risk appearing the fool; to weep is to risk appearing sentimental; to reach out to another is to risk involvement; to expose your feelings is to risk exposing yourself; to place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule; but risks must be taken because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing; the person who risks nothing does nothing and has nothing and is nothing; he may avoid suffering and sorrow but he simply cannot learn to feel and to grow and to love and to live; chained by his certitudes he is a slave; only the person who risks is truly free!"
When you risk loving you have at least a fifty-fifty chance of winning: those are better odds than you'd get with the lottery. Love makes us vulnerable to rejection just like I experienced with my friend Mike when I was a kid and have experienced numerous times throughout my life. Most of us learn to erect barriers so others can't hurt us. Many times in my life I've done this too. But ultimately you must risk if you don't want to go through life being lonely.
Sadly, you risk even when you get married. You think you have someone you can finally trust and expose your real self to just to discover years latter they've rejected you. How sad.
I don't have an answer as to how to filter the good people from the bad people who'll reject you and hurt you. I wish I did. The only advice I can give is this: God will never reject you. So concentrate your efforts on building a positive relationship with Him, and He'll guid you to good people who won't reject you. People who are willing to risk loving like you.
And I think the best place to find other good people is to spend time where good people go: in a church, temple, or other place of worship; in a twelve-step program; in a volunteer group; a fraternity of like minded people; the list is endless, but you get the idea. Good people are found in good places.
Stop worrying that others may reject you; just keep on loving despite the risk. The bottom line though is that love is a risk and if you don't risk love then you'll miss out on life and all the joys that life can bring.