I Gave Her the Number to the Rejection Hotline

Our son graduated college last May and is spending the year as a youth intern at a church here in town, so he’s living with us rather than trying to make his extremely meager salary cover a rent payment every month.* We’re thrilled because frankly he’s a ton of fun to have around.

The Rejection Hotline

He went to the store last Saturday to pick up a gallon of chocolate milk. As he went through the checkout line the young woman commented at length about the milk, how much she loved chocolate milk, how wonderful chocolate milk was, the joys of chocolate milk. Our son said he went into monosyllabic mode so as not to encourage her into further rhapsody on all things chocolate milk.

I said it may not have been the milk she was really taken with, and suggested half-seriously that perhaps she wanted his phone number. He looked at me with a smirk and said, “Yeah, but I gave her the number to the rejection hotline.”

It turns out there is such a thing. He said there is a website with a list of phone numbers for various area codes so that if someone is bugging you for your number you can hand this one over. If they call it, apparently there’s a message along the lines of “The person who gave you this number didn’t want to hand over their real number. Sorry, but you’ve reached The Rejection Hotline.”**

When Rejection is Part of Redemption

I got to thinking about how God didn’t hand me the number to The Rejection Hotline. But then I wondered if it’s ever OK to reject something and this passage came to mind:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:7-8.)

It is because of God’s acceptance that we are able to walk with God and resist the devil, to reject him. And there’s no need for a Rejection Hotline. We resist and Satan flees.

I saw this rejection and flight scenario work out in my life just yesterday. A blog friend, Ellen Painter Dollar, wrote on a very delicate topic and some comments were less than appreciative. In fact, some went so far as to question her motives for even choosing to write on the subject. She got savaged by one commenter in particular.

As some of you may suspect, I have a protective streak in me; you should have seen it coming out when I read those unfair and at times vicious criticisms. I wanted to blast them! But I didn’t. After all, Ellen’s been blogging a long time and has repeatedly proven that she can handle these types of situations very effectively and irenically. So I resisted the urge.

And then I noticed a curious thing. The urge to blast was no longer there. In its place I found an urge to engage constructively, and I tried to do so. Whether I was successful or not is up to whoever reads the comments, but I know that I was free of the urge to blast some poor person who is probably going through a rough patch and certainly doesn’t need me to make it any worse. It was as if Satan had fled from me at the moment of resisting him. And according to James, he did.

I am so glad that God works in me to give me the ability to do what needs doing.

Sometimes that includes a little rejection.

***

Have you seen the devil flee when you’ve resisted him? What does that look like?

***

*If you want to read about our daughter, check out yesterday’s post.

**He assured me he didn’t really hand over any number, real or fake. We can all breathe a little easier.

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16 Responses to I Gave Her the Number to the Rejection Hotline

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    Great practical application of your lesson, Tim. I love how you reveal the spiritual reflections you have, how they bring you to God’s Word, and then immediately have practical application. It does help me to remember the truth that you are conveying and then see the opportunities God provides.

  2. Sarah says:

    I’m drawn to read the other’s blog post… and so I shall. Thank you! And yes, when our tempers calm and sanity is restored, we view the world from such a higher place! Here’s to hi-rise perspectives!

    • Tim says:

      I hope you like Ellen’s blog, Sarah. She is one of the most challenging writers I visit regularly. She can get raw and tender and insightful and clever all in the same post sometimes.

  3. Jeannie says:

    So many threads here! I had to read the EPD post to which you referred (though your actual link didn’t seem to work for some reason) and that got all kinds of thoughts & feelings flowing. And the Rejection Hotline thing — that’s so funny. The idea of rejecting the impulse to strike out really fits for me today, though. My son’s home from school with a cough: he’s sick enough not to be able to go to school but not enough to dampen his naughty impulses (he’s coming off an anticonvulsant drug & is way more hyper). So he’s turning on the bathtub taps & flushing the toilet at the same time, pressing random buttons on the TV & dvd player, dropping non-flushable objects into the toilet … AAAGGGH. I, however, am going to surf the net with a Zen-like complacency and refuse to respond with anger. To paraphrase a friend who marked a student paper on Paradise Lost containing an unfortunate typo: “Get thee behind me, Stan.”

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for the heads-up on the broken link, Jeannie. I got that fixed.

      And about Stan, I wrote that typo in this article in the first draft. Good thing I saw it, because spell check would have been no help on that one.

      Hope your complacency overcomes your son’s impulsiveness. Talk about two competing trends!

  4. Mary Anne says:

    “Resist the devil and he will flee from you . . .”

    What this passage doesn’t tell you is that he usually tries again in less than ten seconds. *sigh*

    • Tim says:

      I know. When it comes to the rejection hotline analogy, Satan would just crumple up our note and say, “But I want to come back to your place now!” Good thing the Holy Spirit is our ever-present Escort.

  5. Ellen says:

    Tim – I am so very grateful for that protective impulse of yours. I want you to know that I don’t take it for granted, though I do feel emboldened to take on hard stuff on my blog knowing that “cheers Tim” along with a few other loyal readers will have my back. Your insight here is lovely and wise. You teach me something every time you write, here or in your blog comments. I am grateful for you!

    • Tim says:

      Ellen, you tend to take on not just the hard stuff but stuff that can be downright toxic if not handled properly. How you do it and do it so constructively is a marvel. Like today’s post on Jewish theology and reproductive technology – you hit it out of the park with that one! I am so glad to see what God is doing through you on your blog.

      Cheers,
      Tim

  6. I love the imagery… harshly rejecting Satan’s attempts to get us to treat others harshly… good thoughts. =)

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Elena. I remember a Twilight Zone episode where a character told Satan to get lost, and Satan fled – unwillingly but without hesitation. It was an apt example of this whole concept.

  7. Yes, I know that hotline. It’s pretty funny to call and listen to. I’m impressed that he had the number memorized. I’ve never used it – I think I usually legitimately had a boyfriend all the time, so that was always my excuse (but that’s a topic for another time, another day, and probably another blog).

  8. michellevl says:

    Some of the worst rejections I’ve faced have been the most formative experiences of my life. Of course, it is only in retrospect that God’s work in the face of a slammed door is apparent to me. I am hoping that as I get older, I’ll be able to draw on that perspective so I don’t sulk about the no/exclusion/slammed door quite as long, and can trust that God is at work for my good and his glory.

    • Tim says:

      So true, Michelle. It’s hard to see a slammed door as part of God’s providence when my nose is still smarting from getting banged against it. Perspective always seems to come later for me too.

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