Posted by: thebylog | March 28, 2005


I have not had a lot of disappointment in my life. I think I’ve commented before that for whatever reason God has seen to shower me with lots of good things and not many bad. Most of the non-relational hard things thatI’ve gone through have been of my own doing, not “providence.”

Two college basketball teams played a classic of a basketball game in the NCAA’s Elite Eight last night. The University of Arizona blitzed Illinois midway through the second half and led by 15 points with just four minutes remaining. Illinois, however, staged a furious and improbable comeback to send the game into overtime, holding on to win in the extra session.

Granted, this is simply a game, but in the direct aftermath of such an intense competition, the awful feelings of knowing you had a trip to the college game’s biggest stage well within your grasp – all they had to do was not mess it up! – and you blew it, that feels like someone’s punched you in the stomach and you can’t do anything about it.

This, in a way, is a trivial example, but a person could cite any number of other examples of people who have failed, in some form, to get something that they really wanted or expected. Recently, I’ve had to deal with disappointment, not in an I-lost-a-family-member sort of way, but in a my-ego-hurts-because-I-was-expecting-more sort of way. Different, but being rejected hurts.

Since disappointment touches all of us at some point on our journeys, probably everyone reading this can identify with me. Some of you have had disappointments so great that being rejected by a particular graduate school seems laughable. Yet the feeling is, at some level, the same, as is the way we must deal with it.

It bruises my ego. I thought I was good enough to get into these schools and I though by my record/feedback from people that might know, that I had a good chance. But for Berkeley and MIT, at least, I wasn’t good enough. Ok. Fine. But it takes me a little to get over it.

It might be surfacing some pride issues as well, in an area I know I must be careful in. I’ve known for some times the dangers in putting too many of my self-identity eggs in the academic basket. It doesn’t seem like I’ve ever been able to completely come to grips with this issue, though I don’t know if that says there’s something there on the altar of my heart that needs to be sacrificed or not.

But one result of these circumstances may be that instead of growing in its importance in my estimation, my academic life may be kept in better perspective. And think of all the ways these rejections will have a positive impact in my life. I’ll be more humble. I will grow through the adversity of disappointment. I will rely more on God – hopefully. My mother will be happy that I’m close to Mennonites instead of tucked away in “bastions of liberalism”. I won’t have to make a gut-wrenching choice (it’s essentially being made for me, and note to Tom: I haven’t heard from Purdue). In fact, this may be God speaking very clearly to me. The ol’ “take-away-most-all-the-options-so-the-chances-you-miss-my-leading-are-minimized” trick … Ok, God, I gotcha.



  1. You named the struggle perfectly: too many “my self-identity eggs in the academic basket.” I don’t like it that most of my motivators (basically all extrinsic motivators) to excel in my field are secular. Any connections between excellent “performance” and glorifying God, I personally need to make. Sometimes I forget.

  2. Hey, I’m sorry you didn’t get accepted to a couple of the schools. Their programs are probably stupid anyway! 🙂 No really, it’s not a nice feeling to be rejected when you feel you gave your best, but I’m sure there’s a plan in it. And who knows, you may have much better opportunities at the schools in which you were accepted.


  3. I’m Sorry By.And you are so right.
    Rejection in any form is no fun.
    You wanna give me afew wise lines about dealing with rejection from a Family member?
    Because that’s what I’ve been dealing with.
    If this wasn’t great big publically read thing I’d say alot more about it.Just Me,

  4. How does one deal with any sort of rejection and still maintain a “positive” self-image and still see themselves the way that God intended them to see themselves? I don’t have any answers to this question that hits every human heart in some form or another. There have been many times in my life when I’ve just needed a friend’s shoulder to cry on and they have needed mine.
    One gets angry in response to the rejection, then guilt usually follows because we, as humans, think that anger in any form is wrong and sinful. But is there not a time, when one simply has to run into the arms of their Master and allow him to carry you through the hurts and disappointments? I hope that pouring out my heart a bit hasn’t hurt anyone. Jewel

  5. I wouldn’t assume that you weren’t accepted because you’re not “good enough”. Maybe the admissions committee honestly thought their program wouldn’t be a good match for you, not because of any lack of academic excellence on your part but for other reasons like your career goals, interests, values, etc.

    I appreciate your analysis of the part God is very possibly playing in your grad school search. Keep up the good focus!

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