Recovering from Rejection

Recovering from Rejection

During our recent flood, one family sent its little boy to stay with relatives in another part of the state, accompanied by a letter explaining the flood situation. Two days later the family received a telegram: “We are returning the boy. Send the flood.”

That sounds funny, but I wonder if the boy felt rejected. His bad behavior may have been due to rejection and a desire to get attention. Rejection can be defined as the feeling of being unwanted. You desire people to love you, yet you believe that they do not. You want to be part of a group, but you feel excluded. Somehow you are always on the outside looking in.

Everybody faces rejection, real or imagined, at some point in their life. Its influence on our behavior can be subtle or major. For example, some people allow rejection to fester in them to the point that becomes the dominant aspect of their personality. People who operate out of the deep buried pain of rejection try to validate their lives in many ways. Rejection can result in either withdrawal from deeper relationships or in an inordinate dependence upon others or possessions for acceptance and meaning. Some seek acceptance through pre-marital sex or adultery. Others seek relief in alcohol or drugs. The drive for acceptance often leads to homosexual relationships.

Rejection will beat a person down, it will tell them no wants to hire them, no one cares about them, everyone thinks bad about them. As dangerous as that is, so are the lengths people will go to avoid being rejected.  People will compromise their faith because of fear of rejection. Whether it is at school, work, or among friends, they will abandon values and standards in order to gain and maintain acceptance in a group. How many, because of fear of rejection, have compromised biblical sexual commands? How many have tried tobacco, drugs, or alcohol in order to avoid rejection and increase acceptance? Some of us did.

Since no one but God is capable of giving perfect love at all times and in every circumstance, some lack of love or rejection will come into all our lives. Some of the worse pain from rejection comes when you never felt love from your father, you sensed your mother didn’t want you, you experienced an angry divorce; you were the un-favored child; you were abused; you had some handicap, or experienced public humiliation. Experiences such as these leave permanent wounds, whether we are aware of them or not.

But, I have good news! Jesus can heal us from the wounds that come from rejection and give us a new identity in Him!

A person who has not found their identity in Christ, builds an identity based on his appearance, his performance, his prestige, or his possessions. Either we find acceptance as a free gift because of our identity in Christ, or we find it necessary to try and earn it. Free acceptance in Christ is a matter of grace rather than works. To put it another way, free acceptance is of the Holy Spirit, while acceptance based on performance is of the sinful nature. Christianity and man-centered thinking are mutually contradictory.

Romans 8:5-8 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

A worldly person sets their mind on the sinful nature and bases their life on earthly values, goals, and interpersonal relationships instead of Jesus. This will ultimately lead to rejection by those from whom acceptance is sought, and finally, a sense of failure and self-rejection. Feeling unworthy of love, the worldly person develops an inability to receive love from others and an inability to love others in return. That is why a person suffering from rejection finds it difficult to receive God’s love and acceptance through Jesus Christ. They dismiss the Gospel, believing themselves as unworthy of it.

Ephesians 1:3-6 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 

When we come to God through Jesus, He adopts us as we are, but He doesn’t leave us that way. We are as accepted and as highly favored as Jesus, Himself. Amazing as it may seem, God loves us in the same way He loves Jesus. We have don’t have to earn His love, for we are born again by the Holy Spirit into His family. We are God’s children!

If we belong to Him, overcoming rejection is God’s unquestionable will for our life. By applying large doses of God’s Word to our wounded heart daily and by allowing Him to renew our mind until we think like Jesus, we will overcome rejection and learn how to love, even love our enemies and those who reject us.

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

It is the love of God in us that stimulates acceptance and gives us the ability to love in return. Let Him love you. Experience His love for you. Believe what God’s Word tells you. God thinks you are worth loving and keeping. In fact, He thinks you are worth dying for. Jesus Christ will never leave you or forsake you. Find your identity and acceptance in Him, not the world. Read and believe what God says to you in His Word. The following are samples:

Isaiah 49:15 Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Ps. 27:10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.

As we abide in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit begins to renew our mind, our way of thinking. Applying the truth of God’s Word by faith and by the Spirit will heal us from the effects of rejection because of His work of love in us. So, how do we do apply the Truth?

1. Recognize the root of our problem and call it by its right name - rejection. Even though it may seem extremely painful, God always has to bring us to the moment of truth before we can receive His help. Realize rejection is the root of many sins you wish you didn’t commit. You are seeking acceptance in the wrong places. Confess those sins as your fault and quit blaming others. Seek God’s forgiveness for those sins and deliverance from the evil spirits associated with rejection. You may need a trusted believer to pray with you and counsel you through this process.

2. Follow Jesus as your example on how to handle rejection and its associated pitfalls.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

For three and a half years, Jesus had completely given His life to doing good, to forgiving sin, to delivering demon-oppressed people, and to healing sickness. At the end of that period, Pilot offered a choice to Jesus’ own people. He was willing to release from prison either Jesus of Nazareth or a criminal named Barabbas, who was guilty of political insurrection and murder.

In one of the most amazing decisions in all of human history, the people rejected Jesus and chose Barabbas. The mob cried out, “Away with Jesus! Crucify Him! We don’t want Him! Release Barabbas!”

Have you been rejected like that? What did Jesus do? In response, Jesus prayed for those who had Him crucified. Luke 23:34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The second step, therefore, includes forgiving those who rejected us. This is not an easy thing to do. In fact, we are incapable of doing so if left to ourselves. However, as we come to this moment, the Holy Spirit is right there with us. If we will yield to Him, He will give us the supernatural grace we need to forgive.

Forgiveness is not an emotion; it is a decision. It is not a decision to trust the person who rejects you, it is a decision to not hold their sin against them. In other words, you decide to bury the grudge, anger, and hate. If they are still alive, you treat them like you wish they would treat you.

Forgiveness will enable us to get rid of all bitterness, resentment, anger, or rebellion which rejection has produced in our life. These fruits of the flesh are sin. If we nourish them in our heart, they will poison our whole life. They will cause us deep emotional problems and, quite likely, physical problems as well. However, as we forgive others, these poisons lose their toxicity and power. They are replaced by the fruit of the Spirit as we obey the Spirit and forgive.

We may say we can’t forgive, but the truth is we won’t forgive. Nevertheless, we must forgive; otherwise, how then can our Heavenly Father forgive us?

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Our fleshly nature may not be able to forgive, but we can choose to let the Holy Spirit work His forgiveness into us and through us. Confess your unforgiveness as sin and ask God to make you willing to forgive. We won’t be able to take the next step in recovery from rejection until we repent of unforgiveness and forgive whomever rejected us. Repentance is not a one-time act. As part of Christianity, it is a lifestyle. Daily, a Christian believes, repents, dies to self, puts his faith in Jesus, and obeys the Holy Spirit.

3. Quit believing the lies of rejection and believe the truth every day. God’s purpose from the start of eternity was to make us His children. When we come to God through faith in Jesus, repent of our sin, and are baptized, we discover that we are already accepted by Jesus’ atonement on the cross.

Again, saturate your mind and life in God’s Word. You will find God has no second-class children. He does not just tolerate us. He loves us. He is interested in us. He cares for us. Believe it and receive His love. Let Him abide in you. Then walk in an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.

4. Quit rejecting yourself. Sometimes this is the hardest step of all. Never belittle yourself. You did not make yourself. God made you and is remaking you in the image of His Son. Don’t belittle the work of God in you. We are God’s masterpieces. Of all God created, He devotes the most love to us.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

You may be looking back over a record of failures - over a broken marriage, over children who went wrong, over financial disaster. You may label yourself a failure, but God calls you, “My child.” God has accepted you. When you come to God through faith in Jesus, you become a new creation. He will conform you and change you, to reflect the image of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Therefore, the believer should be content with his acceptance in Christ, or he will go on being hounded by the rejection he has experienced in the world and maybe even in the church. If we continue to look for acceptance from the same old relationships, we will never recover.

Since we have a new identity in Christ, we should no longer evaluate ourselves on the basis of the way we lived before we came to Christ or by what people say about us. Now, our only true standard of self-evaluation is what God says about who we have become in Jesus. As we repeatedly declare who we are in Christ, according to God’s Word, we will begin to renew our mind and live according to whom God created us to be. This is not positive thinking or developing a high self-esteem. Apart from Christ, we are sinners, unclean, and condemned. It is total dependence on Jesus Christ, His atonement to make us children of God, and the Holy Spirit giving us life.

When we walk according to our flesh instead of the Holy Spirit, we are reflecting the sinful nature instead of the life of Christ. Although we are redeemed and loved by God, He will discipline us. When we get off the path of live, God disciplines those whom He loves. His discipline is not rejection, but love.

Hebrews 12:4-11 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,  because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

1 John 3:1-2 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Those who have no relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ have an inadequate support system to heal the hurts which a rejecting society has dealt them. These hurts and rejections are passed on to others through frustrations, hostility, and anti-social behavior that can become violent. Only God, the Holy Spirit, can heal the wounds of rejection.

Jesus offers acceptance, love, and healing for our wounded soul through the exchanges He made on the cross. He experienced rejection in order that we might be accepted by God and God’s family. He suffered shame so we might share His glory. He died for us so we might receive His life.

Do you have His life? Is the love and acceptance of Christ flowing through you to others? If not, come to Jesus, so that you might experience God’s love and His acceptance of you. Come as you are, willing to believe, to repent of sin, and to die to the old life through water baptism, so you can be born again of the Holy Spirit. Come and receive His love, acceptance, and salvation.