It is the season of acceptance letters and rejection letters for a whole host of students. Seniors are finding out if they have been accepted to the grad school of choice, or if that first, dream job is coming their way. Underclass students are learning if they will be awarded the internship or summer job that they hope will add that extra boost to their experience that will make them the most desirable candidate down the road. Faculty and staff members who have children who are seniors in high school, we are discovering, with our children, if they will be moving on next fall to that school that is at the top of their list.
It is the season of acceptance letters and rejection letters. Amid this time, there is much rejoicing! There is great joy in celebrating with one another when that for which we have hoped and prepared comes to pass. There is not much that is more delightful for me than walking into the Helge Center and having a student say, “Pastor Char, guess what? I got in.”
But this is also a season of disappointment: there is great sadness when hopes and dreams are met with a letter that includes, “we regret to inform you.” My heart feels the heaviness when the words are, “I got rejected.” And though helping to redirect and think with students about new or different plans is certainly part of my calling, this sadness weighs heavily.
It is the season of acceptance letters and rejection letters. In this particular season, thoughts of a good friend come to mind. Once upon a time, several years ago now, there was a job that I really wanted. It was the job that I thought would have been my dream job, the one for which I had longed and prayed, the one for which I thought I was uniquely suited. My experience was right. My passions were right. My connections were right. But then that letter came that I did not expect. “We regret to inform you…”
When that rejection came, I was devastated. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what I had done wrong. I felt like perhaps I had misread, or misjudged my own credentials, gifts, and skills, and I was not at all sure where I would go next.
In my disappointment, I poured my heart out to a friend. He listened patiently, thoughtfully, and then wrote me a letter that included these words. “When something keeps you from taking the path preferred, perhaps there is something on the path that you would rather not meet.” I read those words countless times. I printed them off and attached them to my computer. I committed them to memory, and said them over, and over again to myself.
“When something keeps you from taking the path preferred, perhaps there is something on the path that you would rather not meet.”
Those words helped me see beyond the disappointment of the moment. They helped me recognize that I was not the best suited candidate at that moment for that job. They helped me understand that the job I so wanted was not the right fit for me, nor was I the right fit for it. They helped me open my eyes and look again for where God wanted me to be.
I have returned to those words often over the years. They have come to mind not just amid jobs that have not materialized, but also amid other life experiences that did not turn out like I had hoped. In those times, I have been reminded that even when things do not turn out like we want, even when we find ourselves traversing something other than the preferred path, God has a way of moving us to the places and circumstances where God wants us to be. In all of that, I have constantly been reminded, that God is faithful — amid joys and disappointments, hopes fulfilled and detours that send us in unexpected directions. And that, dear ones, is worth remembering.
So, in this season of acceptance letters and rejection letters, whether you find yourself on the receiving end of one of those missives or in relationship with others who are receiving them, may the ever faithfulness of God buoy you up, fill you with hope, and give you strength for the journey.
Feb. 21, 2018
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Dr. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.