For most of my High School life, I tried desperately to be what I thought others wanted me to be in the unsuccessful pursuit of being accepted. When I became a Christian in the last year of High School all of this changed. I worked out that I was miserable trying to be someone I was not. From that point I made the resolution to be the unique person I believed God had made me to be. I reasoned that if people didn't like me then at least I could know who I really was.
As I started being outrageously myself, something strange happened - people started to really like me. People became interested in what I had to offer. I had my downs as well as my ups, but for the first time in my life I truly felt human. This new lease of life continued into my first year of university as I entered into a world of seemingly limitless possibilities. There was no person to which I would and could not relate to and no stranger to whom I would not introduce myself. For someone who was naturally quite introverted, this was no small achievement.
As tends to happen through one's university years, towards the latter half of 2001 I fell in love and plunged head-first into a relationship, giving it the same kind of intense energy as I gave everything and everyone else. Things seemed to be going swimmingly well until New Years Day on 2002, when without warning, the relationship ended abruptly. Things started to fall apart. It wasn't so much the fact that the relationship had ended or that I had been rejected - it was the manner of the break-up. I certainly don't blame the person involved for choosing to break-up with me and I don't think that she wasn't being malicious, but the method used was really ill-considered and inconsiderate.
This was to be a major turning point in my life. More subconsciously than anything else, I shut up shop. I shut down. This worked so successfully I eventually stopped feeling pain. I stopped feeling anything. For almost five years afterwards. During this time I was involved in a series of relationship in which I felt very little connection with the other person. My grandmother died, but I felt nothing. I felt no real joy towards activities I previously enjoyed.
I'm not entirely sure what has changed, but in the last six months I have started to feel again. My self-imposed shackles have fallen off. I've started to feel human again. I am slightly more wary, slightly battle-scarred, but I am starting to feel that connection with the person I truly am. The person I always was. Whereas for so long I could only see in monochrome, I am starting to see the full brightness of the colour spectrum. Where there was only cold and dark before, there is warmth and light seeping in to the very core of my being.
Over the last few weeks I have faced (sometimes loving, sometimes not so loving) rejection from a few different sources: people, job interviewers, institutions. And for the first time in ages I began to hurt. Really hurt. It was in a sense a surreal feeling - while I remembered being in pain, I had almost forgotten what it had felt like. As you might have imagined, I've been feeling pretty lonely during the last week. But as a sat in my room on Saturday night, I began to feel hope. This pain I was feeling showed me that I was still human. My heart was still beating and blood was still flowing through my veins. I have learnt that there is only one thing worse than feeling the sting of pain and rejection and that is to feel nothing at all. In a small way I began to feel united to the rest of humanity and its common experience. I thought about those who have suffered divorce, those who have lost loved ones prematurely and those who suffer the pain of rejection from society on an everyday basis - people who have all suffered at least a hundred times more than I have. I hope their heart is still beating. I hope their blood is still flowing. I hope they haven't given up on being human.
My thoughts then turned to my Exemplar, Jesus. Was he ever more human than when he wept tears of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane as he awaited his imminent fate? Was he ever more human than when the nails of hate were driven mercilessly through his wrists? Was he ever more human than when he cried out in agony after being forsaken by all those he loved and even His very own Father? No, no, and a thousand times no! He was never more radiant, more glorious in his humanity.
And yet, he was never more divine ...