I am on a quest. I am on a quest to become immune to caring about what other people think of me. The trick is getting there without becoming hardened and bitter. This is trickier than you might think.
In the last year and a half or so, I have made some decisions that many people around me don't like. I have decided to stay committed to some things while more than half the people involved in those same things have decided to leave. I have based my decision to remain loyal completely and purely out of conviction that this is where the Lord is leading.
Those who decided to leave, I am certain, would say that they left based on the Lord's leading in their own lives. Not one person left as a direct result of me. Yet, for some reason, some people who have left have decided that this means we can no longer be friends; based on this one decision. I have not done nor said anything to anyone that would be a legitimate reason for de-friending me.
(As a side-note: it is amazing how being de-friended from someone on Facebook has just as much sting of rejection as being told straight to your face. Who ever would have thought a social-network site would have that kind of power?)
Some who have left have slandered and criticized on their way out. I have been caught up in the cross-hairs of some of the accusations thrown about.
In all of this I have done my best to treat everyone inovlved with the same love, honor, respect, kindness and compassion as I did before anyone ever decided to leave. I haven't done it perfectly, but I have tried. For the most part people have responded in kind, after perhaps an initial period of awkwardness while friendships are "renegotiated" in new settings or environments.
For some who have left, however, I have been completely and utterly rejected. I literally had someone who used to be a friend turn around and walk out of a store after seeing me there.
After almost a year and half of this, the sting of this has started to fade. I actually call this victory. I am learning to care more about what the Lord has to say about all of this and me than any person. Just because I am rejected by people, even people who were once close to me, does not mean I am rejected by the Lord.
This, to be quite honest, has been a hard lesson for an overcoming people-pleaser like me. It has been absolute death to me in my past to be rejected and scorned. I have in my past done almost everything possible to avoid this. So, to stand firm and tall and be able to declare that I am right with the one person it matters to and that is all that matters, is huge victory to me.
I am, however, noticing that the draw to become hardened and bitter is a strong one. The desire to swing in the complete opposite direction from where I have been and into bondage of another sort is one that I have to actively fight.
There are days when I succeed and I know the same loving, mother's heart, nurturing, kind woman who was always there remains. But, there are other days when I feel the numbness and hardness creep in around the edges of that same heart.
This is what I have to guard my heart from! It is the well-spring of life and I want to LIVE! I want to live a life ABUNDANT, not a life so fearful of rejection that it cannot be found beneath layers of protection and walls. I want my heart hidden in CHRIST so that anyone who wants to find it, must look to Him first.