Healing From The Heartache of Rejection

so-sad-2551808_960_720There is a way out of the pain.

Feeling accepted goes beyond just something we all would like to experience; it’s a basic human need. Rejection shrinks us, tempting us to pull back from others. It can cause us to seek isolation to prevent further rejection. It tempts us to become invisible so others won’t see our perceived failures and weaknesses. It has the potential to keep us from our destinies. Rejection can be like a contagious virus, infecting everyone it comes into contact with. It ricochets back and forth between people like a cruel game of catch. Rejection is one of those emotions that not only could be described as extremely painful, but a place of agony.

Cycles of rejection can begin very early in our lives, before we’re old enough to understand what’s happening. It can enter our lives when parents reject us, sometimes even before we were born.

The cycle of rejection began in my life at a young age when friendship that was very dear to me was withdrawn without explanation. When my attempts to reconcile were ignored, I came into agreement with the belief that I was unworthy of the acceptance of others. After that I began to see all of life through a different set of lenses. Those lenses were like a filter that interpreted the actions of others through a filter of rejection. I subconsciously began to look for evidence that others rejected me. I began to focus on the feelings of rejection I felt, and we tend to hit the target that we focus on, no matter how much we dislike that target.

Once we come into agreement with rejection, our hearts become like a sieve, unable to retain the love and affirmation of others. This puts a heavy burden on those who would try to show us love and acceptance, because they are always at square one with us. None of the past demonstrations of love and faithfulness to us are enough to convince us that they accept and love us. Forgetting the evidence that we are accepted and focusing on (real or perceived) evidence that we are rejected becomes a way of life. The selective memory that rejection causes creates a false perception of reality. If we don’t resist rejection, the perception that we are completely rejected will look Sooooo true. Multiple times I have observed individuals with unusually high levels of likeability and favor come into agreement with the belief that they are rejected. If a person BELIEVES they are rejected, in their perceived reality, it’s just as destructive as if they were. In these situations it can sometimes be helpful to remind ourselves that things are not always as they seem. Even when others are for us, our perception may tell us otherwise. This is where communication and seeking clarification is so helpful in our relationships.

What about those times when others have truly behaved in a way that conveyed the message that said, “You are rejected?” Here’s the deal: If we are believers, God says “You are accepted.” It is in this place where we have a choice to make: who will we give the power to tell us what is true? If the God of the universe says He has made us acceptable by the blood of Jesus, will we agree with Him? Or will we yield to the opinions of others? This is about more than one thing we did that others deem either acceptable or not. This is about a state of being. We as believers are enough.  We are NOT victims of rejection! Even when others behave in ways that communicate rejection, God declares that we are accepted. We are acceptable in God’s sight, not because we have somehow been able to prove it through some noble feat or because we just look good enough. We are accepted because we are God’s sons and daughters and He says, “You are enough. You are accepted.” Romans 15:7 says,

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

What should our response be if we recognize that we have come to believe that we are rejected? How do we come out of agreement with that lie?

Overcoming rejection begins by taking back our thought lives. When rejection tries to say, “See, I knew it. They don’t want me around. They don’t think I’m good enough, blah blah, blah.” Silence rejection forcefully. Replace the old lies with the truth in God’s word:

“…he {Jesus} hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Acts 10:34b-35

We are not victims of rejection! We get to choose whether or not we will give it a place in our hearts; but we can’t expect it to fall in our laps either. It takes intentionality to seize the truth in God’s word and reject rejection.

Secondly, if you are in a cruel game of catch where you and another person are going back and forth, yielding to rejection each time you encounter one another, STOP!! Someone has to decide to stop playing that heart-wrenching game if it is ever going to stop. We do this by deciding, “I’m going to love even when I don’t feel loved. I’m going to accept the other person, even when I don’t feel accepted.” Until one of us puts the brakes on rejection, the relationship will grow further and further distant until one or the other decides that it’s just too painful to keep trying.

Another effective way to come out agreement with rejection is to focus on the truth that God accepts us. Psalm 94:14 says,

 “For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.”

As long as we are believers, we will not be rejected by God.

Some might object, saying, “What about Hosea 9:17?” (“My God will reject the people of Israel because they will not listen or obey.”) Romans 10:17 tells us,

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

I contend that anyone who is in a state of not being willing to hear, or listen to the words of God would be wise to ask themselves if they are in right standing with God. When our faith in God is restored, the obedience piece will fall into place as well. Finding freedom from rejection isn’t a matter of trying to work our way into being accepted by God; we simply can’t earn it. We find acceptance by God when we accept His remedy for sin: the blood of Jesus.

Another thing to keep in mind when overcoming rejection is that correction does not equal rejection.  Others do not have to accept everything I do in order to accept me as a person. They do not need to have the mentality that says that I can do no wrong in order to accept me. This calls for humility and teachable attitudes on our part. We all stumble in many ways, (James 3:2) and being open to correction by others is a sign of maturity. When we are willing to humbly accept correction from others, pushing past the pain of admitting when we are wrong, we have an opportunity to develop deep and intimate relationships with others. Correction from true friends may hurt temporarily, but those wounds can be trusted. (Proverbs 27:6) We take a step toward overcoming rejection when we face correction with courage, asking ourselves if there is any truth in what others are saying. If so, let’s take responsibility for our mistakes and correct our course. Apologize when it’s called for. Let’s push through on this one. It isn’t easy!

Another effective way to come out of agreement with rejection is to recognize that no one else can resist rejection for us. No matter how much another person may show us love and acceptance, it will never be enough. If we are depending on others to convince us that we are accepted, it will always fall short because we are trying to get something from a person that can only be fulfilled in God. What we really need is reassurance that is rooted in something that cannot change, and that is only to be found in God’s unchanging character. Malachi 3:6 tells us, “”I the LORD do not change.” When God tells says,

“The LORD will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession,”

(Psalm 94:14) we can count on it because of His unchanging character. The problem with putting our hope in other people to make us feel accepted is that even when we have trustworthy people in our lives who have demonstrated that they love and accept us, our hearts are never fully at rest in that acceptance because people can change their minds. They can die. They can choose to betray us because they (we) are human. When we put our hope in God and in His promise to remain faithful to us and to accept us, we can KNOW that He will never change His mind. When our foundation for feeling secure and accepted is in God, then any love and acceptance we are shown by people is just frosting on the cake. It becomes the overflow.

Another way to overcome rejection is to bring the pain that rejection causes to the One who understands. Jesus understands the pain you are experiencing because He was rejected by the very people He came to save. Isaiah 53:3-5 says,

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus sees your pain and He understands. He was rejected so that we wouldn’t have to be.  He rises to show us compassion. (Isaiah 30:18) He loves it when we come and pour out our hearts to Him; He will comfort us with His precious Holy Spirit when we do.

One of the most powerful things we can do when we feel rejected by others is to forgive. Forgiveness allows the healing to begin. Without it, the enemy has a foothold in our relationships with others.

Last but not least, the most important thing we can do when we resolve to overcome rejection is to repent for having come into agreement with it. Anytime we recognize that we have believed a lie, let’s take the time to repent and ask God to give us His truth in exchange for that lie. If you recognize that you have done this, I want to invite you to take a moment to pray with me:

“Dear Lord,

I now recognize that I have believed the lie that I am rejected. Thank you for being my Savior and for your blood that makes me acceptable in your sight. Thank you for your promise to never leave me or reject me. Right now I want to come out of agreement with rejection. Please forgive me for anytime I have yielded to rejection.  Please help me to take my thoughts captive whenever I feel the temptation to agree with rejection again. I also ask that you would bind up the wounds in my heart that have come through rejection. Thank you for being the One who restores my mind and emotions. Thank you that because of your blood on shed on the cross I am now accepted. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

May the love and acceptance our Lord Jesus comfort and reassure your heart,

Arlene

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