“Hey, guys! If you want to sit with us, we’ll be sitting in the back of the cafeteria.”
I smiled and turned to leave after I invited a couple new friends to join me and my college roommate for dinner. We walked over to a table, sat down, and waited for them to arrive. But only one of the girls came over to join us.
Where’s Reagan*? I thought, searching the cafeteria to see where she was.
I noticed her face somewhere in the sea of people, but I couldn’t tell where she had gone. All I knew was that she wasn’t sitting with me. And that hurt.
How could she have ignored my offer? Why did she reject my invitation? Why hadn’t she joined our table?
Not My First Rejection
Friends, this wasn’t the first time I had been rejected by someone I had considered a potential friend. I had basically been ignored by a group of my friends in middle school and later neglected by other friends during my senior year of high school. I have faced rejection many times, and I am sure you have, too.
But that doesn’t give us a reason to hold a grudge.
Oh, I get it—you feel like you’ve been stabbed in the back. You’ve been rejected one too many times. You’ve been betrayed by one too many “friends.” I understand completely.
Yes, cliques are annoying. They leave us feeling worthless and insignificant and unloved.
Yes, the popularity chase is frustrating. No one else seems to recognize that it only leads to fickle friendships.
Yes, real friendships are hard. They require patience and hard work.
But no matter how many times you’ve been hurt, ignored, or rejected, you aren’t exempt from choosing forgiveness.
It’s Not Easy, but It’s Worth It
Yes, I said choose. That means forgiveness isn’t a feeling; it’s a choice. It’s a conscious decision to do the right thing and let go of the grudge.
Not because it’s easy. Not because the other person deserves it. Not even because you might feel better after you do.
Forgive because Jesus forgave you. It wasn’t based on a feeling or an emotion He had. Jesus chose—yes, consciously chose—to forgive us.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
Please don’t read past this verse or skip to the end of this post. Instead, let this truth soak in. Understand what it means for you.
Friends, Jesus didn’t decide to love us once we had decided to love Him back. He didn’t decide to love us once we had confessed our rejection. He decided to love us before we were even born…millennia before we realized what a mess we had made.
Forgiving the messy people in our lives is no different. Forgiveness is not about waiting until the rejectors recognize that they have hurt us (because they might never recognize it). Forgiveness is not about waiting until the rejectors ask for our forgiveness (because they might never ask). It’s about deciding to love by choosing forgiveness, just like Christ did.
*Name has been changed.