When God Says “No”

I know in my head that God has a plan for my life and that He works all things out for the good of those who love Him. However, knowing this and actually living it out are not quite the same. My trust issues run deep and God doesn’t always get the exception He deserves even though He has proved Himself to me time and time again. I just like to be in control of things, even if it leads me to disaster (as it has done more than once). Giving up that right, even to God who I know is infinitely wiser and more capable than I am, isn’t easy.

About a year ago, I felt God was calling me to apply for an overseas internship with Samaritan’s Purse. The position is pretty much my dream job: international humanitarian relief work through a Christian organization. Even so, I didn’t want to apply. For about six months, I resisted, but it just kept coming up and the hints were far from subtle. People who barely knew me would bring it up, randomly asking if I’d ever thought of applying to work for them. But I was scared. I didn’t think I was qualified and didn’t want to face the disappointment and rejection I knew I’d feel if I wasn’t selected.

In December I finally relented, somewhat resentfully, and submitted my application only to find out it would be six months before a decision was made! What could I do but wait?

I did my best to not get my hopes up, but I didn’t do a very good job. Just two weeks ago, I was fully confident that I would be accepted (despite my complete lack of experience, training, and foreign language skills). After all, God wanted me to apply, didn’t He? I’d done my part. Now He had to do His. I had pretty much ruled out “no” as a possible answer.

Last Friday I found out that I was not selected for one of the coveted internship positions. And you know what? I was OK.

Honestly, I’m still a little shocked at how I have handled the whole thing. So is my family. I think my mom was prepared to lock down all my bank accounts and credit cards to keep me from doing something truly crazy if I didn’t get it. Like buying a one-way ticket to Cambodia and never coming back. Or impulsively getting a puppy (my mom’s greatest fear, even more so than me moving to a war-torn developing nation). We’re talking nuclear level meltdown. It wouldn’t have been the first. Actually, it’s a pretty normal reaction in my world.

I won’t lie, I was disappointed, but I wasn’t devastated. The only explanation I can offer is that God filled me with a peace that I can’t explain. A peace that passes understanding. It’s been almost a week since I found out and I still wake up wondering “Is today the day I fall apart?” But I haven’t. And at this point, I don’t think I will. I know that sounds a bit arrogant, but I know that this peace is beyond what I could have managed on my own. This is all God.

The truth is, these past six months have been the most relaxing months I’ve experienced since I graduated from college four years ago. Since graduation, I have been constantly focused on “what’s next?” When I was in China, I was focused on applying to grad school. When I came home and started working, I was still thinking about grad school. When I started grad school, I was worried about whether I’d be able to find a job in my field. When I withdrew from grad school (because I was so stressed about loans and career prospects), I began hunting for a new job. I was so focused on and worried about the future, that I was missing out on my life! Once my application was submitted, I had nothing to do but sit and wait and LIVE.

Without all the self-imposed stress and worry, I was able to start enjoying life. I started exercising and taking pictures again – things that had been neglected in my state of heightened anxiety. I took up cooking and cleaned up my diet. I got involved in a small group through my church and began investing in meaningful friendships and community.

I didn’t recognize it while it was happening, but I over the past months, I slowly began to feel settled. For the first time in four years, I didn’t feel like I was just drifting aimlessly. In the past six months, Brooklyn transitioned from being a cool place to live for a temporary season to being a home I really didn’t want to leave. So when the email came last week letting me know that I hadn’t been placed, I felt disappointment, yes, but I also felt relief.

I am genuinely excited to be staying in Brooklyn for the foreseeable future. Receiving that rejection helped me see just how much I love my life. I love change, too, and I’m sure I’ll grow restless again and long for something new and different. But for now, I’m going to stay put and enjoy the this rare gift of consistency and stability.


8 June 2012. Faith Hope Love.


  1. Aunt Jeanette replied:

    I am sad that you were not accepted but happy that you are at peace
    with the decision.
    God will lead you!
    Love Aunt Jeanette

  2. MAggie Clayton replied:

    , you are a young lady to already have learned this lesson. There are many in my generation that still have not learned to be at peace where God has them. Bless you.

    • margaret brinson replied:


      I just happened to stumble into your blog and read this post. So good and so true, Definitely soothed my soul to read it.

      Love you girl. xoxoxo- Marg Brinson

      • Becca replied:

        Glad to hear it! Miss you, friend. Coffee soon?

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