One of the hardest things to do in this life is deal with rejection. Sadly, we face that possibility on a regular basis. Whether it’s applying to a particular school or for a particular job, submitting a novel to a publisher, making art available to the public, giving a speech, asking someone out on a date…. rejection is a potential result that must be considered.

Sometimes rejection is a good thing. We may not be qualified for a particular job, and getting it would be bad for us and/or others. We may not be the right kind of person for a particular work or school environment, and rejection is doing both us and them a favor. The masterpiece we have written may require extensive rewriting before it will sell, or we may have picked the wrong publisher for the genre or style of our writing, prompting us to rework it or seek out a more appropriate publisher.

Sometimes rejection is a bad thing. Someone may actively wish to keep us from a particular job out of hatred or envy. People may refuse to associate with someone for an unjust reason.

Unjust rejection must be acknowledged as a fact of life. That is not to say it should be excused or accepted. But there is a difference between acknowledging that something exists, and accepting that thing as good.

By expecting that we will at times be faced with unjust rejection, we make ourselves better able to deal with it when it happens. It still hurts, of course. But it’s easier to respond to unjust rejection with grace, when we do not treat its existence with shock and dismay.

Jesus gave us the example to follow when we are unjustly rejected. He called sinners away from sin, but not all sinners wanted to listen. He offered eternal life to the world, but not all of the world wants it. When confronted by the angry and violent rejection of most of the Jewish leaders of his time, he accepted it and allowed it to bring about his suffering and death. He did this not because he enjoyed suffering and death, but because it was only through that suffering and death he was able to bring about salvation. He loves us enough to allow himself to be subjected to that, for our sake.

When we find ourselves unjustly rejected, we can turn to Jesus for comfort. If it’s a just rejection, we must accept that we need to change. And if it’s an unjust rejection, we must accept that it is others who need to change. But our job is not to make them change, for such change cannot be coerced. It can only come from within. Our job is to, as Saint Padre Pio used to say, pray, hope, and not worry. We must pray for them, hope for their conversion, and not worry about whether or not it happens.

On the plus side, the pain we feel in rejection is, like all the pain and suffering in this world, temporary. Or at least it can be if we will let it go. If we hold onto it, then we will carry it with us beyond death and will never be able to find peace and comfort. If, on the other hand, we let it go, then we leave it behind at our death and it can never torment us again.

I pray that I am able to do that at the end of my own time here on earth.