We had just finished one of our high school a cappella singing group concerts where I had sung with my all ladies’ group called the Polyphonic Musical Sweeties (yes, it is abbreviated to PMS intentionally, and NO, I was not involved in selecting the group’s name!), and I was eager to see what would be happening after the show. Usually a bunch of us would go to IHOP or Denny’s and hang out there until we were kicked out, or we might gather at a friend’s house until curfews came around. I enjoyed those nights and had been anticipating this one for a while, maybe because there were some cute boys involved or something.
Well, when I looked to find friends after the concert, no one was around. It appeared that they had stealthily left the school without my awareness. Their departure was so quick and unnoticed that it seemed unfathomable; it had to have been planned in advance in such a way that did not include me. Baffled and on the verge of tears, I headed home. There weren’t cell phones when I was in high school, so I couldn’t send frantic texts asking people where they had disappeared to and why I had not been included in the outing.
As I climbed into bed and started to let the tears flow, I noticed a little note from my mom on my night table. My memory is simply that it said “Good night, dear child”. Earlier for some reason my mom had felt inspired to share a quote with me from Mary Baker Eddy’s writings that says this: “Beloved children, the world has need of you, — and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world. What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!” (Miscellany, p. 110).
When my mom had shared this quote, it had not meant much to me. But somehow that night I took great comfort in her little note referring to me as “dear child”. I rested well and got up the next day still confused by the previous night’s experience but not as hurt by it. Later a friend called me and filled me in. Apparently there had been a plan in place for a while among some of my friends to drop acid that night after the concert. It had been my friend’s first experience with this drug, and it was a very unpleasant and even scary night for her and a few of the others who had “bad trips”. They hadn’t invited me because they knew I wouldn’t have participated. They were right, though I will admit at first I still felt a little rejected by their simply not wanting me present.
I don’t think I gave my mom the details of the night before, but I mentioned briefly to her that I had been uninvited to an outing. And my recollection is that she said, “Man’s rejection is sometimes God’s protection.” In this case how true that was.
Wow, has that simple sentence stuck with me! Perhaps some people go through life without experiencing much rejection. That has not been the case for me. I went on shortly after that experience to study theater in college. Rejection central! In the large drama program I attended there were very few opportunities to perform on the main stage. And of course the audition experience necessarily includes rejection. And with men….ha! If I had a quarter for every man who has said something to the effect of “I really like you, but [fill in the blank]” or who has said he would call and proceeded to drop off the face of the earth, I could park all day in Harvard Square.
When we are making an effort to maintain childlike innocence and “uncontaminated lives”, it is inevitable that we will experience rejection. The world does not freely accept such efforts. And yet, as Eddy says “the world has need” of people to make these efforts. And sometimes even when we don’t feel we are making these efforts to the best of our ability, we will still be rejected. And we may come to find at those times when we felt rejected, we truly were being protected from something we never could have known about until later.
Those moments of rejection are never fun. But there is great comfort in tucking yourself up in the warmth of a Father-Mother God who says every moment, “I will never reject you, dear child. You are forever Mine.” And, the quicker we let go of the pain over feelings of rejection, the sooner we might discover the great things that Love has prepared just for us.