“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.
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.