October 24, 2010
I have been thinking this week about one pattern of change that sometimes results from the human experience of being unchosen.
Being unchosen happens in life with painful regularity. In the sanctuary of my office, I listen as wounded survivors remember: unchosen as a child ("They wished I'd never been born and told me so."); unchosen by peers(no friends, no date for the prom). Then, as an adult, unchosen for promotion, unchosen for friendship, for parenthood, unchosen for participation in the world of work and play inhabited by the beautiful 'chosen' ones; unchosen for parental approval, unchosen for the cherished role of wife; unchosen sexually as husband--people who, judged from outer appearance, are making their life journey successfully, but who inwardly view themselves as unchosen at a hundred human points of hunger for love, respect, and affirmation.
Most of us can recount at least one experience of "unchoosing" that has left a legacy of shame and remembered pain. However, we are often less aware of the ways in which such moments of "unchoosing" shape our present sense of ourselves, and alter the risks and relationships we presently choose.
Without conscious awareness, we sometimes begin to structure our lives protectively. We are "out of town" the week of the class reunion. We are "not interested" in submitting a proposal in a competitive bid for grant money. We are "too busy" to participate in a grassroots neighborhood organization.
We position ourselves quietly and carefully. We take few chances that expose us to the possibility of further "unchoosing." Better to be out of town and miss the renewal of relationships than risk becoming the unchosen wallflower at the class reunion. Better to appear disinterested than to author a proposal not chosen by the review committee. Safer to limit community participation than risk the embarrassment of never being considered a candidate for office.
Such protective actions are seldom obvious, and their consequences rarely acknowledged. We do not often count the cost of lost opportunities in relationships and creativity that result from our effort to protect ourselves. Learning to think productively about old injuries and our resulting efforts to stay safe is not an easy task.
However, for those of us who incorporate our faith as a foundational part of our emotional well-being, there is a paradoxical place from which we can begin the journey toward healing. We can face our "unchoseness" straightforwardly and place it in the amazing context of our being chosen as God's loved one. The emotional meaning of those experiences in which we were NOT chosen, however painful and real they may remain, are changed when placed in the perspective that, just as we were--and as we are--God choses us in Christ, and indeed, has done so since before the foundation of the world. [Eph.1:3-4]
A client who had struggled with many painful issues of rejection in her life came to view God's choice of her as one of the foundational truths of her identity. When she terminated her work with me, she brought me a gift, a lframed piece of needlepoint that continues to hang near my desk. It reads:
He called me.
it was no extravaganza;
earth scarcely noticed.
Yet, I've been told
that beyond the galaxies
a fanfare broke out
when I said "Yes" to Him
and took His name.
Feeling unchosen? It often helps to think again seeing yourself from the perspective of God's choice of you.
Thinking with you about the meaning His choice gives our lives.
See you next week,