The first American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson, put out a song in 2015 titled Piece By Piece that describes how her relationship with her father broke her, and how her husband’s commitment healed her. The lyrics, which Clarkson co-wrote after a conversation with her sister, begin with the pain of rejection:
And all I remember is your back,
Walking towards the airport, leaving us all in your past.
I traveled fifteen hundred miles to see you,
Begged you to want me, but you didn’t want to.
Rejection hurts. I don’t care who you are. Most of us have experienced its sting at some point. We’ve heard statements like, “Thank you for your interest in the position, but we’ve decided to go another way,” or, “Our relationship isn’t working. It’s not you, it’s me.” Or maybe someone we trusted just stopped calling and didn’t return our texts. Maybe we put ourselves out there to show up for a date, only to wait while we felt others staring at us and then drive home alone. I don’t care how emotionally healthy you are, rejection still hurts.
In Piece By Piece, Clarkson contrasts her self-centered father with her trustworthy husband:
But piece by piece, he collected me
Up off the ground where you abandoned things, and
Piece by piece he filled the holes that you burned in me
At six years old. And you know,
He never walks away.
He never asks for money.
He takes care of me.
He loves me.
Piece by piece, he restored my faith
That a man can be kind, and a father could stay.
When I first heard this song, I hoped that Clarkson was maybe singing about God, because I know that no human relationship is 100% safe from rejection. This is because all relationships consist of two broken people living in a broken world. I’ve encountered so many who hope to heal their wounds from the past by diving into a new romance. Others become parents, relying on their children for the unconditional love they didn’t experience when they were kids. Funny, but these substitutions rarely work out they way we expect them to.
That’s why the last few verses of the book of James are so important! There is a Father who will never reject his children. He loves perfectly, fully, sacrificially, selflessly. His acceptance is not dependent on our performance. His affection does not diminish because of our emotional state. He does not consider us his family based upon what we can do for him. He knows we have nothing good to offer, yet he loves us anyway.
James encourages us to pray when we are suffering to a Father who won’t reject us, even if we’re mad at Him for allowing our pain (James 5:13a). A piece of us is restored. James invites us to sing praise to a Father who delights to hear us, even if we have temporarily forgotten that He is the One who provides for and protects us (5:13b). Another piece falls into place. James reminds us to look to God’s healing power when we’re sick (5:14-15a). A third piece finds a home. James exhorts us to confess our sin to one another and to our Father, who welcomes us with open arms and does not condemn us, all because we are in Christ (5:15b-16). The most crucial piece of all! In Christ, we are unconditionally loved and accepted. Piece by piece, the heavenly Father restores us and remakes us. Piece by piece.