Sunday, 23 June 2019

Rejected



Father Ignatius came out of the Sacristy after Mass and found Sharon still in church with her little three years old daughter Petra. They were standing by the Statue of Our Lady trying to light a candle.

“Are you still here Sharon?” he asked, “how are you these days?”

He must have touched a raw nerve because tears started building up in Sharon’s eyes as she said, “We’re well Father … doing as best we can."

Father Ignatius sat on the first pew and little Petra left her mother and came running to him, handing him her toy bear.

“That’s a lovely bear” said the priest taking it from her hands, “what is his name?”

“John …” said Petra enthusiastically as she climbed on the pew and sat next to the priest. “John, you and me can now pray together …” she added, as her mother a few feet away knelt down by the statue for private prayers.

Sharon was a single mother. Her husband left her for another woman just after Petra’s birth and has not been seen since. Eventually, having no news whatsoever of her run-away husband, she divorced him in the civil court and brought up her little child as best as she could on Social Security Benefits.

After a few moments of silent prayers she joined the priest and picked up her daughter on her lap.

“I’ve been trying to get a part-time job …” she said, “nothing much, just a few hours a week to supplement my benefits and to become a little independent …”

“That’s good …” replied Father Ignatius gently.

“There’s just no work available …” she said, “I can’t go full-time because I have no one to look after Petra … and part-time work is either not available or is too far from home requiring two bus rides to get there.”

Father Ignatius said nothing as he prayed silently and handed the toy back to the child.

“I feel such a failure …” continued Sharon, “my life seems to be in a rut and stuck in failure … I’ve been rejected by my husband … rejected by my family who live too far away to care … and rejected by every employer in town and society in general …”

At this moment, almost by coincidence, the little girl on her lap said, “I love you Mama …”

“Well … you’ve certainly not been rejected by Petra …” said Father Ignatius quietly as Sharon kissed the child on the head.

“And I know you haven’t been rejected by Jesus either …” he continued.

Sharon smiled weakly.

“Rejection is very hard …” said the priest, “and we do sometimes feel as if we’re of no value or worth to others. But that is not always the case Sharon.

“We’re all valuable in the eyes of God, and we all have a contribution to make … you are very valuable to your little daughter who relies on you for everything.

“It’s good that you’re trying to find a job; and I feel deeply for you at what you see as rejection from employers.

“Rejection does not mean failure.

“Sometimes rejection provides you with clarity on where to go next. You say you’ve tried the local factories, and the electric company and the gas works for some clerical work …

“Perhaps your future does not lie there … I can’t say where just now … but maybe God is leading you somewhere else.

“For now it could be that you’re exactly in the right place where you’re supposed to be … and God wants you to spend your time looking after Petra.

“Sometimes He answers us by saying ‘Wait … not now … stay where you are and trust Me’; … do you see what I mean?”

“I understand …” Sharon replied smiling weakly again.

“I shall pray for you Sharon …” continued Father Ignatius.

“And now … would you mind doing me a favor please?”

“Yes Father …” she said.

“I’m having some trouble with the new speakers and microphone they installed in church recently. I wish to test the acoustics in here.

“Would you mind going to the lectern and read something from the Bible over there. Take Petra with you.”

Sharon walked to the lectern child in hand.

“Just read anything … I’ll stand over here” said the priest.

Sharon opened the Bible and read the first passage at the top of the page.

“That’s good …” said the priest, “wait a bit until I walk over there a little further back … now read again …”

She followed his instructions.

“The speakers here sound OK … I’ll go right back by the statue of St Peter … when I get there could you read again please.”

Sharon waited until Father Ignatius walked slowly to the end of the church by the exit door and then started reading the Bible.

He raised his hand in the air to stop her then walked slowly to the front once again.

“As clear as a bell …” he said, “I can hear your every word very clearly despite my old age … and if I can hear you, I’m sure everyone else can.”

She smiled.

“Sharon … we do need readers for Mass on Sunday. It’s really not fair to rely on just the same readers every week. You should really consider adding your name to the readers’ rota to help us out a bit.”

“But … I can’t read …” she exclaimed as she picked up her daughter tugging at her dress.

“You seem to have done OK just now … just think about it,” replied Father Ignatius, “you don’t have to decide right now …”

Sharon did think about it; and eventually she did join the readers list and did read on Sundays at Mass.

A few months later she also managed to get a junior clerical job working part-time at the local Catholic school leaving her child at the pre-school playgroup while she worked.

20 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful piece of writing Victor.
    I love everything about it.
    That was me back in the 1960's.
    I had two children, my son was 5 years old and my daughter was two years old.
    I was on welfare and searching for a place to live and a job with two small children.
    I never lost my faith in God and He never lost His faith in me.
    I found a job and a small two bedroom apartment.
    Then later I found love again and my second husband and I have been married 48 years and we also had a son and a daughter.

    I love happy endings :)

    God's Blessings to You~

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful heart-wrenching story, Jan. Starting from all the difficulties you had, you trusted God, and you tried your best for your children. To bring them up in safety and comfort and to look after them. God approved of your efforts and helped you. Congratulations on your 48 years with your second husband and your expanded family. May you all be happy together for many more years.

      God bless you and yours, Jan.

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  2. What an inspiring story, Victor! You absolutely made my Sunday. Blessings, my friend!

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    1. A number of my Fr Ignatius stories are based on an element of truth, Martha.

      God bless you and your family.

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  3. Wonderful story, Victor. Faith and patience are very important.

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    1. Indeed Bill. One must never give up faith.

      God bless you and yours.

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  4. Rejection/abandonment by a spouse/father IS really,'very hard'; and, most especially when a similar 'rejection' also comes from The Church, its priests, & its professed believers! I've experienced both -- as the 'child' of an abandoned mother, and as a 'spouse' with children of my own! Sure wish that my mother and I could have known a priest like 'Fr. Ignatius'at the time! It took me more than 30 years to find one. His name was Fr. Bob Bedard; and I am eternally grateful for having met, and known him!!

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    1. You are right about church rejection, (at times). I have been fortunate to have known a number of kind priests. Father Ignatius's character in my books and stories is modelled on them.

      God bless you and yours, Suzanne.

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  5. Wonderful! For the better part of a year, I've answered numerous ads for part-time clerical work -- to no avail. My head knows I'm well qualified, but my heart still considers it rejection. Thank you for this timely lesson!

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    1. I understand and sympathise with what you say, Mevely. When we are turned down for a job, or a promotion, we feel rejected, unwanted, not good enough. But this is not always really so. There are many times when we are perhaps over-qualified for the job in question. Where the employer is concerned that the applicant will not stay long in the job and will leave; meaning they'll have to recruit all over again.

      I have spent many years in Human Resources and have interviewed many applicants for jobs, or for promotions. Very often we felt we had capable "best" candidates which did not get the job because "the job did not fit them". Nothing wrong with the candidate - but the job is the wrong one for them.

      If the USA is anything like the UK; here in Britain it is very difficult to get a job. Even qualified University graduates are either unemployed or getting jobs like waiters, serving coffee and so on until something better comes up. In the meantime, they are getting older, saddled with University debts, and it is almost as if their lives are on hold.

      Remember also, you are never rejected in the eyes of God. We are all "winners" and suitable in His eyes, because there are no rejects from God's production line when He created us. He knows when and why we don't get a job we've applied for. Perhaps He wants something else for us. Or maybe we are in the right place for Him right now ... for example, (just guessing), in your case He wants you not to work and be in the Bible study group where you are serving Him better. I don't know ... just guessing. But I do know that He loves you and cares for you and for your happiness.

      God bless you, Mevely. Praying for you.

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    2. Thank you for sharing perspective from 'the other side.' I've much to ponder!

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    3. Thank you, Mevely. I shall pray for you right now.

      God bless.

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  6. All in God's timing. : )
    How wonderful to KNOW that God never rejects us.
    Thank you for your words of encouragement about the sale of my house!!

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    1. We should always trust God. Praying for you and yours Happyone.

      God bless.

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  7. Hi Victor,
    Yes, sometimes rejection from being rejected can lead to a sense of inferiority, This is why it is important to encourage a person that you might feel is in this situation. When I was in school I considered it important to stand up for those who were being bullied.
    Nice story Victor, I always like happy endings.

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    1. So glad you liked this Fr Ignatius story, Brenda.

      God bless.

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