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Living with rejection

Living with rejection

Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt

This sounds like a really serious column, doesn’t it? I mean, “Living With Rejection” is a pretty weighty title, right? But this column is not about serious rejection. It’s not about the rejection of a parent or a spouse or a rebellious child. I fully acknowledge that those experiences are not to be taken lightly. No. This is about regular ol’ everyday “find the humor in it later” rejection.  
The first rejection I remember happened in the third grade. I sent Bill Houston the famous “I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no” note. Yes, I provided crooked little boxes next to the yes and the no so there would be no confusion. And there wasn’t any confusion. A big fat no written with a blue ink pen.
In the fourth grade, undeterred by relational failures of the past, I sent Terry Smith the “I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no” note. Yes, I made sure there were crooked little boxes next to the yes and the no so that there would be no confusion. And once again, there was no confusion. The answer was no written with a red ink pen. I should have tried the “give him my chocolate pudding at lunch” approach. But that kind of wisdom and insight was yet to surface in my young life. A few months later, I foolishly sent the note to David Grant. (I know. Clearly, my parents gave me a false sense of personal esteem and tenacity.) Go ahead. Take a guess. He even used a thick purple marker to make sure I got the “no” message loud and clear. And I did get the message. 1973 was just a really bad year for big, loud, funny, outspoken girls in red, white and blue striped pant suits. Whew! I couldn’t seem to get a break.
Those were not my last rejections. I sat the bench on the basketball team (even though I was a head taller than the other girls). I didn’t make the high school drill team. Tim Gilbert dated me a few times in high school until he realized his heart belonged to my best friend. I never got the lead in the school play. I didn’t graduate valedictorian or “Top Ten” or even top 10 percent (or top 40 percent). I wasn’t voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” Most of my high school teachers wouldn’t even remember my name. The bag boy at Kroger didn’t even want to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with me. Ever been there?
But by God’s grace, those rejections didn’t define my adulthood. Perhaps they even molded it for the better. In fact, I know they did. Now, at the age of 47, I feel like that little fourth-grade girl again. I wrote my first novel this year and I’m sending out notes asking literary agents all over the United States to want it. I realize it’s a long shot. And so far, everyone has checked the “no” box. But that’s OK. I’m not defined by rejection and you shouldn’t be either. So if you’re swimming in a sea of rejection today, just take a deep breath and keep paddling. Bill and Terry and David and Tim … well, you get the picture … all rejected me. But one glorious day a wonderful man named Philip found me. God tends to save the best for last.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website,

Published in The Messenger 8.31.11


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