More About Rejection

Lately as I continued reading an excellent book about rejection and contemplated the issue, I focused on how a certain person repeatedly rejects me. Then God suggested a question I need to ask myself.

How have you been rejecting him?

Over the years I tended to look only at how I felt rejected and how this individual needed to straighten up and stop rejecting me so often.

But as I looked at my own actions one evening, I saw how easily I slipped into rejection mode.

It doesn’t matter if he rejected me first. What’s essential to embrace is that sometimes his rejections of me came in response to my rejection of him. Other times I answered his rejection of me with rejection, which only makes matters worse and dishonors God.

I can’t keep others from rejecting me, but I can choose not to have a negative response when they do.

As I made an inventory of the people in my life that I felt had deeply hurt me, I saw that I also mistreated most of them in some way. I found myself making excuses for my hurtful ways while magnifying theirs.

Two verses came to mind as I meditated about this matter.

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 NIV

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

Routinely I reject the Lord by neglecting to spend time with Him, failing to obey Him, and refusing to receive all He has for me. Yet He does not reject me in return.

Isaiah 53:3 says this about Jesus:

“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.”

Although Jesus didn’t reject others, He was rejected—here it says “by mankind.” But even on the cross where rejection from others led to His death, He forgave instead of answering rejection with rejection.

I’ve discovered I tend to be blind to my rejecting ways, and I don’t respond to rejection like Jesus did.  I respond naturally when the Lord desires and requires a supernatural response.

Another truth that God showed me lately is that I often have a bitter, hardened heart toward those who have hurt me. I conclude my hard heart protects me from further hurt. Instead it keeps me from getting close to others and to God. This truth hit me in regard to hard hearts: Hardened hearts can only reject. Even if my rejections aren’t acted out, they still hurt the relationships in my life, and when my heart is hard, I’m not being like Jesus.

Just as I can be blind to my rejecting ways, I can also be oblivious to the hardness that is taking place in my heart.

In Scripture hardness of heart is described as “stubbornness and perversity.” (See Matthew 19:8 Amplified Bible Classic)

It breaks my heart to see that I still battle stubbornness and perversity which the dictionary defines as “a deliberate desire to behave in an unreasonable or unacceptable way; contrariness.”

What I want to be is to be more like Jesus: “gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart. (Matthew 11:29)

The only way for that to happen is to spend more time with Him and in the Word, so He can transform me, continuing the process to make me more like Him.

Lysa TerKeurst gives some instruction on becoming more like Jesus in her book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely:

“Though my circumstances may not change today, my outlook surely can. I will not run. I will rise above. I will trust God’s will above my desires. I will let truth free my soul from past hurts. I will step into today’s destiny. And in the doing of this, I see His flicker of light, and a pulse of divine hope courses through my heart. (Kindle 4001)

She also says, “The most frustrated people are those who feel their lives can only improve when others put forth the necessary effort to make things better.” (How often I’ve been stuck there.) That’s problematic since we can’t control others. A more productive view of change is to look at ways we need to change.”

God knows I want to change. He’s already brought me so far. Yet I long to stop answering rejection with rebellion. My desire is to rise about bitterness, pride, and excuse-making.

Yes, I’ve made some progress, but God continues to take me down some of the same paths, so I can see that I’m still not finished learning—that I have a ways to go.

I’m praising Him that even as I learn the hard lessons He shows me, He overflows with mercy toward me. He understands my weaknesses. And He wants me to view others in the same way.

God help me. And let my hope be in You alone.

“Rise” by Danny Gokey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqwpli3On2U

 

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Have A Grateful Day

For my Hearts Set Free blog this Thanksgiving week, please check out a blog I posted in 2015 which is on CBN.com today. I’m praying God will help me to maintain a grateful heart–not just during this Thanksgiving season but throughout the year.

http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/have-a-grateful-day

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A God Who Never Rejects

“I’m reading a book about rejection,” a friend who’s going through a hard time told me recently.

After finishing it, she left the book on my front porch for me to read since I admitted to her I still hadn’t dealt fully with rejections in my life.

“I have to give this book back to you,” I said after reading only a chapter or two.

The reason was because I needed to buy a book of my own. There was too much to underline, too much to absorb, too much to contemplate, too much to read again and again.

As I read, I realized that while I had dealt some with rejections, they still affected my everyday life and my sense of feeling loved. Recently sad and hurt feelings arose about ways people had hurt me in my home church. Before I hadn’t labeled them as rejections, but that’s just what they were. I was rejected severely in my childhood and left that phase of my life feeling “not good enough.” These rejections resurrected this childhood lie. I discovered that the rejections from the leaders were more hurtful because they were authorities representing God, and still they acted in unloving ways.

I remember years ago a counselor instructed that I could deal with rejection in two ways. I could go to God to have Him help me deal with it. Or I could rebel. This counselor also told me that if I chose rebellion mental health issues could be the result. At the time I was battling severe depression.

Many might say that what I did after a rejection could not be termed rebellion. I gave in to overeating, isolation, shopping to feel better, and telling others how I had been rejected. I did hidden things as well. I held on to bitterness, contemplated revenge, and had negative thoughts about the person who had hurt me. The sad thing is that if I don’t deal with rejections God’s way, I will reject others. I can see that my rejections at church were from people who hadn’t dealt with their own rejections.

As I read this book, I realized anew that after rejections I still don’t immediately or fully turn to the Lord. The truth that’s hard to embrace is that each time I don’t turn to the Lord after a rejection, I’m rebelling. He tells me in His Word to call out to Him (Psalm 50:15)  pour out my heart to Him (Psalm 62:8) and come to Him (Matthew 11:28). When I don’t, I’m rebelling against these commands, which are for my good.

Perhaps it’s because I feel He could have prevented what happened.

Maybe it’s because I’d go to the person to talk about the rejection—thinking God would intervene–and was rejected again.

Too often it’s been because I’ve feared that He too would reject me–that He’d add to my sense of shame.

One counselor told me, “God is the only One who will never reject you.”

But in reading the Old Testament, it seems there was quite a bit of rejection from God. Just today I read about God rejecting the people of Judah for their wickedness and going after other gods.

The Good News is that God’s wrath was placed upon Jesus while He was on the cross. Because I’m saved, God sees me as righteous. His desire is to renew, restore, refresh—not reject. He had the same desires toward people in the Old Testament—if they would just turn around and return to Him.

As I think about these rejections in my church life, I can see that I didn’t turn to the Lord at the time they occurred. Instead I depended on my own wisdom and the wisdom of others. As I rode my bike today, I was assured from the Lord that if I had turned to Him fully, He would have given me comfort, counsel, courage, and compassion (compassion not only for myself, but also for the ones who hurt me).

What was hard to admit is that I still haven’t turned fully to the Lord in regard to these rejections. One problem that arises because of this is that I backed off from deeply connecting to others because I don’t want to get rejected again. I’ve done that in many ways in my church life and in my personal life.

Today I’m confessing my way of dealing with rejection as sin. I’m determined to turn to Him fully–even after a rejection that seems small–to receive all the comfort, counsel, courage and compassion He has to offer.

I’m going to believe what the author, Lysa TerKeurst, writes in her excellent book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely.

“He waits every day with every answer we need, every comfort we crave, every affection we’re desperate for, while we look everywhere else but at Him…

He really does have it all worked out. The gaps are filled. The heartache is eased. The provision is ready. The needs are met. The questions are answered. The problems are solved.

Fully.

Completely.

Perfectly.

In Him. With Him. By Him.

We just have to turn to Him. And sit with Him. No matter what…

How it must break His heart when we walk around desperate for a love He waits to give us each and every day.”

Even though there are many people in my life who have acted in unloving ways toward me and rejected me, I can live my life loved because He loves me forever and can heal me from every hurt and heartache.

Then I can reach out to others and lead them to the Healer who never rejects.

Today I’m celebrating these truths.

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We Win! We Win! We Win!

“Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win!”

Those were the words I shouted as my hometown team won the World Series after a 108-year drought—the same words announcer, Harry Caray, would shout after a Cubs victory.

Those six words were in the Tampa Bay Times the morning after that historic game which ended late at night, and yet had me and scores of others staying up to watch even though we had to get up early in the morning for work.

My daughter and I watched the dramatic this-is-going-to-give-me-a-heart-attack game together since my husband was out of town. When the final out was made, I uttered my six words and some others and screamed louder than I did in labor. As I hugged my daughter, I felt overwhelmed emotionally thinking back to all the memories with family involving the Chicago Cubs—especially back in the day of Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billie Williams.

At work the next day, I still felt excited and discussed the game with coworkers who also stayed up late to watch.

I found myself saying out loud, “The Cubs won the World Series,” for the pure joy of it.

I’ve also said “Cubs win!” quite a few times since that night just to remind myself of the amazing victory.

In the midst of my celebrating, I thought back to what I’ve heard Christian speakers ask in regard to sports and Christianity.

“Why don’t we get as excited about what Christ did as we do about the victory of our favorite sports team?”

But the Cubs were cursed some believed, and their win was such a long time coming. We have to shout and scream and get all excited.

The words came to mind, “We win! We win! We win!” Because of what Christ did on the cross, we who have accepted Him as Savior have a victory that goes on into eternity—a victory that wins us not a spectacular trophy for our city or pride that our team has finally won but an eternal home in heaven.

Another part of Christ’s victory on my behalf is the transformation that has taken place in my life. He found me as a depressed, battling suicidal thoughts, always feeling rejected, self-loathing individual and changed my heart, my mind, and my emotions.

I confess that I do let the things in this world arouse me more at times than the amazing victory Christ won for me. Hell was my destination, but now I’m going to heaven. Once I was starving spiritually and now I’m living an abundant life with more blessings than I ever dreamed possible. Why aren’t I more ecstatic about that? What causes me to take it all for granted too often, or even muse that I somehow deserved it or earned it or that changes came about by my own efforts?

My goal is to get more excited about my spiritual victory and to tell others more often about what Christ has done for me and can do for them. Yes, certain things in this world can seem exciting, but they can never measure up to what I’ve gained through Christ. I’m still excited about the Cubs’ victory, but it pales in comparison to my victory in Jesus.

I don’t want to be complacent about the victory I—we–have won in Christ. Sometimes the enemy tries to tempt me into believing I’m not a winner—that I’m a loser because of all that’s going wrong in my life. Other times he tries to convince me that the body of Christ are losers because of all the wrong things Christians do. I refuse to believe those lies.

Instead I will believe 1 Corinthians 15:57: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I am on the wining team–not just as an observer or fan but as a player–and because of that there is much to celebrate.

Will you join me in getting excited about what Christ has done for us, how far He’s brought us, and how deeply He loves us?

“We win! We win! We win!”

Note: Please pray that everyone connected to the Chicago Cubs organization will gain the greater victory by coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Ben Zobrist is already a committed Christian. Pray many more will follow.

Get All Excited by Gaither Vocal Band 1989

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6SNRtTGZTQ

 

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Battles and Bitterness

I’ve heard it again and again. The Christian life is not a playground, but a battle field.

It seems that daily there are battles to fight. In the days when depression plagued me, I battled hopelessness. These days in various areas of my life I battle discouragement and fear on a regular basis.

In relationships I battle to maintain a loving attitude as I face rejections.

Recently I was reminded by the Lord that He fights my battles for me as I cooperate with Him.

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV

The vast army in this verse is a literal army, but in my life the vast army can be negative thoughts or destructive mindsets.

Yet in the midst, He intervenes to give me courage when I’m discouraged and faith when fear threatens to take over.

The thought that came to mind not long ago is that if I hold on to bitterness, I block God from fighting battles for me. Bitterness not only affects my relationship with people, but also with the Lord. I let bitterness guide me, instead of the Lord.

I was reminded of this as I counseled a friend to let go of bitterness in her marriage as she battled hopelessness in regard to its survival.

As I spoke to her, I examined my own life and asked God to help me with that very issue in my own relationships.

Bitterness is the sin that trips me up often. Others sin against me and instead of being gracious and merciful, I’m tempted toward bitterness. Sometimes I don’t even realize that it’s residing in my heart until I suddenly lash out.

Some days I falsely believe that I will win battles in relationships if I just maintain my bitterness. The lie that has tempted me is that it’s my forgiveness that keeps people sinning against me again and again.

God’s Word has something to say about bitterness.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; Hebrews 12:15 ESV

The conclusion I come to as I look at this verse is that bitterness blocks God’s grace, which I need to win the battles in my life.

Today and in the days I ahead, I want to let go of bitterness and allow God to fight battles for me, so I can have victory in relationships and give a loving response—no matter what, like Jesus did.

I’m grateful that God never leaves me alone to fight—that the most powerful being in the universe is on my side and by my side and wants me to have victory.

Lord, I praise You in advance for the victory that is mine in every battle that I face.

“Battles” by The Afters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQJWT017Jwc

 

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Dealing With Effects of Trauma

Recently I was reminded of a hurt from my past after someone let me know an old boyfriend of mine had died.

The rejections I suffered decades ago replayed in my mind. The lie that said, “The reason he rejected you so deeply was because you were not good enough, pretty enough, loving enough” taunted me. I thought of people in my present who reject me at times. Giving in to shame at not being good enough as the reason for those rejections as well tempted me.

An uprising of bitterness against this former boyfriend and even toward myself for getting involved with him threatened to rise up.

I realized that the results of my connection to this troubled young man were more than just hurts. What I experienced with him was trauma.

Instead of embracing again the negative effects of this trauma, I listened to the trauma prayer online which a friend had introduced me to a number of years ago. Already I had listened to it several times, but I felt led to hear it again and embrace it in a deeper way.

After the trauma prayer was over, I let the next video play as I looked up the photo of this former boyfriend on Facebook.

When I saw his face again, I realized there was still some resurrected unforgiveness—not as much for what he had done—but because he never reached out to me to say he was sorry.

As I studied the photo of him and his siblings and parents, the voice from the video playing in the background asked, “Is there someone from your past that you need to forgive? If so, you need to do that now.” This man prayed a prayer releasing me from unforgiveness, and I agreed with every word he said, and proclaimed a confident “Amen.”

Since then I have felt compassion toward my former boyfriend and his family who are grieving.

And I’ve felt a renewed urgency to help others with the traumas in their lives sensing that this young man from my life of decades ago suffered traumas that allowed him to mistreat, reject, and have minimal empathy toward me.

A family member called me not long ago saying she was over-reacting with anxiety to an event that seemed relatively small to both her and myself. We realized together that this was because of past traumas. I saw that so many of her troubles involved unresolved trauma.

I sent her the link to the trauma prayer.

Then I thought of a friend who is losing hope in our marriage. As we talked not long ago, I saw that unresolved trauma in both my friend and her husband was involved in their marriage problems. She agreed.

I sent my friend a link to the trauma prayer.

I don’t see that prayer as an easy fix, but as something to open the door to this issue. Until a friend did that for me, I was convinced all my traumas were resolved.

In my working with the mentally ill, I was reminded again that dealing with unresolved trauma can be key to restoring mental health.

As I thought about how I’ve identified unresolved trauma in my life and in the lives of my loved ones, this list came to mind:

–troubles in marriage that seem so much larger than the circumstances at hand.

–unexplained bouts of anxiety and fear.

–over-reaction to rejection—even minor rejections such as someone not returning a phone call.

–angry outbursts with minimal provocation.

–waves of depression and sadness triggered by seemingly small frustrations or disappointments in everyday life.

I remember when I went to my friend’s house for the webinar on trauma, we were told to make a list of the traumas in our lives. These included sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuse. It could be operations, injuries, sicknesses in ourselves or loved ones. It could be loss or the death of loved ones. My list included rape, suicide of family members, rejections by loved ones, and so much more.

But the good news about making the list was the promise that God wanted to release me from the effects of every one of those traumas.

Psalm 147:3 comes to mind when I consider traumas. “ He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows].” AMPC

Here’s how I rewrote that verse today:

He heals those who have suffered trauma and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows].

I remember how I clung to the promise of Psalm 147:3 after my brother’s suicide 4-1/2 years ago. His birthday was yesterday. He would have been 52 years old.

Today I’m praising God that He does not leave us alone in our traumas in this fallen world, but He lifts us up out them and then helps us to reach out to others with hope and healing. That’s how I ended up being a writer, speaker,“singer”and working with the mentally ill. The latest open door God has for me to pass along hope and healing is to mentor the bullied and bullies at a local middle school. He opened the door, so I know He has good in store. (I just made up that little slogan. I think I’ll use that again.) I’m excited about reaching out to these young people.

I’m discovering more and more that God is good, and He has good planned for us, but we must cooperate with Him and His plan.

How about you? Are there traumas from your past that are unresolved and affect your present in a negative way? Bring those traumas to the Lord, and He will heal you. It can take time and a “multitude of counselors,” but He is faithful to bind up all of our wounds. I’m living proof.

Instead of a song today, I have the link to the trauma prayer presented by Jim and Pat Banks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31-o0EzLI7g

 

 

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Laying My Burdens Down

First posted on October 14, 2010

Here is a re-post of my October 14, 2010 blog with a few changes and a new song at the end. I wrote this six years ago, but contained in this blog are truths I need to be reminded of on a regular basis. May we all become experts at laying our burdens down/casting our cares upon the Lord.

“I’m in a bad place,” I said to Kenn, my songwriting teacher, last Thursday. “Working on a song seems like a hard thing today.”

Not long before I had been in North Carolina visiting a friend. What happened to the peace and joy I felt there? My trip was to be a writing retreat I had decided, but God also turned it into a “righting retreat”–a time to set things right in my heart and soul.

Hadn’t God brought me to a place of feeling I was beside still waters and all was right with my soul? So what had happened since I returned?

“I challenge you,” Kenn said, “when you get home to sit down for 15 minutes even in the midst of this funk you’re in and write a song.”

At home I realized Satan was attacking me. He didn’t want me beside still waters experiencing rest for my soul. I’m sure he was miffed that while on my trip I spent time praising God for every bad thing in my life I could think of and for all the good God brought out of those difficult circumstances.

So I did what Kenn told me to do. With a pen and my journal, I sat in the recliner determined to write for 15 minutes.

A song came. And with the song came truth.

While on my trip, I had laid all my burdens down. When I came home I picked them up again and then some.

So the song was about laying my burdens down. In 15 minutes I wrote the first verse and the chorus. Later that day I wrote the second verse and the bridge. It amazed me since I rarely write a complete song in one day.

The next day I received an email devotion with the title, “Casting Your Cares Upon the Lord,” which included this verse:

 “Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain you.” Ps 55:22 (NKJV)

The day after that laying down our burdens was mentioned in another email. Today on the radio I heard a song by the Newsboys called “Million Pieces” that was about yes!  laying our burdens down. A song we sang at church not long ago about the subject has also been playing in my mind.

Praise God for these reminders of this truth:  when I feel weary and worried, it’s often because I’m carrying burdens He didn’t mean for me to carry.

The verses that have been coming to mind since I sat down to write (or rather “receive”) my song are Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)

Since God gave me my new song I’ve been singing it to myself over and over: “I am laying my burdens down. I am laying my burdens down…” Once again I’ve given up on trying to control situations that seem out of my control and I’ve abandoned playing God in other people’s lives.

Rest is returning to my soul. What joy there is in releasing all my cares to Him and receiving once again the truth that He cares for me and is in control. I pray for grace not to pick those burdens up again.

What about you? Are you being weighed down by burdens? Listen closely and  hear God whisper, “My child, lay them down.” Then do it.

*****

Here are the lyrics to my “laying my burdens down” song.

I have carried these burdens too long.

They have stolen my strength and my song.

I’ve been so worried, and I’ve been so bound,

So I’m laying my burdens down.

 

I’m laying my burdens down.

I’m laying my burdens down.

There’s peace for my soul,

And His strength can be found

When I lay all my burdens down.

 

I’m ready to lean on the truth.

I know my God can carry me through.

No more doubting and no more frowns,

Cause I’m laying my burdens down.

© 2010 Elaine Creasman

Another song about laying our burdens down.

“Casting My Cares” by Finding Favor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKuAMmTqUbs

 

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