Thursday, July 10, 2008

175 Rejections

Rejected. To be deemed not worthy. It's a painful word. In devotions this week my mind recalled a pretty painful series of rejections in my life...

Since I was a young boy I knew I would be a college science professor. High school and grad school only confirmed that impression. It was what I was ideally suited for, and I looked forward to it. On finishing up I applied for faculty positions at about 30 schools. Only one interview and no offers. Eek! Well that hurt. I guess I need a broader net. I did a post-doc fellowship for a year, applied to 50 more... and got one interview and no offers. Ok, this is really starting to hurt. I was really starting to doubt my 'life calling'. God came through in a big way (that's a story for later) and landed me a dream job as a research professor in Boston. Several years later it was time to start applying again, now with real experience and 30 scientific publications under my belt. Over the course of the next 2-3 years I applied to almost 100 more schools, had just a single interview and... not one offer. Especially for someone living and working in a system totally driven by performance and success, these rejections were absolutely crushing. They weren't just rejecting my skills, they were rejecting me, who I was, my life dream. I may be a little dense, but I finally got the picture: this is what they mean by a closed door.

I applied, just as a trial balloon, for three non-academic positions. I got three interviews, and three excellent offers?! Dreading the switch to industry and leaving the ivory tower, I joined a small company doing applied math and software development. After just six months my view had turned around 180 degrees. I love my job! What I truly love is learning and problem solving (perfect match for a VP of Research and Development), not boldly going where no man has gone before, asking visionary questions and discovering things no one else has known (a great attitude for an academic scientist). So despite the failure and rejection, it has led me (He has led me) to an even better future, to my adoptive family, to my church family, to a place far beyond my wildest dreams.

I wasn't alone in being rejected, and although painful, it's not bad or a sign of God turning His back on you. Jesus himself was "despised and rejected" (Isaiah 53:3). He knew this in advance but did not turn away - the stone the builders rejected would become the capstone (Mark 8:31, Mark 12:10, I Peter 2:7).

If you're feeling the pain of rejection right now, know that all of us go through this, even Jesus. Look for your significance not in your performance or in the approval of others, but in the fact that God loves you so much he went to the cross and died for you.

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