Originally posted on the SONKA Blog.
Last year, Taylor Swift released the album 1989. One of the songs on the album, “Shake it Off,” focuses on the ridicule she receives from the public and press. The negativity and rejection piles up for anyone, and through hearing this song, we know that many of us go through rejection and negativity. Swift said regarding the message of the song “I’ve learned a pretty tough lesson that people can say whatever they want about us at any time, and we cannot control that. The only thing we can control is our reaction to that.”
Some of us are very good at shaking off negativity and rejection. Others of us hold on to the dirt that we’ve collected. Between broken friendships, love relationships, job rejections, and every other type of rejection possible, we hold on to the pain way too long. It affects our self-esteem and our hope for the future. We are too focused on being the best, being perfect, and making others happy that we hold onto negativity well too long.
Jesus got rejected. I’m sure that’s not new to most of us, but sometimes we need to say it out loud. He was rejected when talking about the good news of God’s love. He was rejected when he talked about how we should love our neighbors. He was rejected by those who knew him best as a young child.
When we read the Matthew 10:5-14 text, we see Jesus giving instruction to his crew about how to share the good news. Jesus reminds them that there will be rejection. By telling them to “shake off the dust from (their) feet” he’s telling them to move on, not take this rejection personally or let it affect them deeply. Like Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Jesus is basically reminding them “It’s hard, it’s sad, but shake it off and move on. The dust will weigh us down in ways that won’t allow us move forward, so shake it off.”
There is no doubt that all of us will get rejected in some capacity in our lives. And some of us will want to take it personally. But sometimes we need to distance ourselves from the rejection and treat it as disposable as dust.
I believe it helps us to know that even Jesus understood rejection. He understood the pain that came with having people dislike him, deny him, or try to kill him. Through Christ, God completely understands when we feel low after a rejection. And God knows how difficult it is to shake it off when the rejection is so fresh on our souls.
We may face bullies at school, in the workplace, by friends, or by crushes. We may have been turned down from a job or opportunity that we really wanted. We will undoubtedly fail at something – like a driver’s test or any sort of exam. It can be our nature to want to dwell on that rejection or failure for a long time.
Rejection will hurt, and it will take time to grieve the opportunities and people lost. But when we hold onto them too long or too intensely, it affects our physical and emotional health. We start to lose self-esteem and hope. Sometimes, people do drastic things in that time of pain. And it may be hard to really accept that life will improve.
That’s what shaking the dust off your feet means: accepting that it gets better. There is good right around the corner for all of us. We each deserve good things to happen, love, and acceptance because all of us are made in God’s image. By shaking the dust off of our feet and our hearts, we embrace the God of new beginnings.