Rejection is an interesting thing. Often people equate rejection with feelings or emotions, but it is actually not an emotion, it is an action. When people say they struggle with rejection what they are really saying is that they are struggling with their response to being rejected.
That response can be different things for different people. It can cause us to be angry at others, and to become jealous of those who we perceive are getting their needs met. It can cause us to be afraid because of the pain we feel, and it can cause us to feel abandoned because the people who should love us, don’t. It also affects our ability to trust authority and can cause us to withdraw from society and become like a turtle, hiding in our shell, thus causing shyness.
But it is not rejection that we need to deal with, for we will all be rejected at some point in our lives. What causes our problems is usually our response to that rejection. If we have felt rejection from birth or even the womb, we can respond by feeling that we are unlovable and unworthy.
So there are in essence two reactions to being rejected: feelings that harm ourselves and feelings that cause harm to others. Often times they go hand in hand. If I feel unlovable or unworthy I will have a difficult time receiving love because I trust no one. If I feel angry over the rejection I’ve received, then I begin to hate other people or feel jealous of them and therefore will want to hurt others because of the hurt that I have felt and continue to feel. Since this response is emotional and irrational, the hurting of others is often random and not personal. Of course all of these emotions can be found in the same person. The response to rejection is in fact a form of grief. And grief always goes through stages: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and hopefully acceptance.
As a young child, feeling rejection is very confusing because they don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with it and understand it. Depending on where the rejection is coming from, will determine the level of response. If coming from family, the response will be more malignant. If from outsiders, hopefully more benign.
Because rejection is such a confusing feeling the emotions or response to it can also be confusing. We are born to be loved. God says in His Word (1 John 4:19) “We love because He first loved us.” He gave us parents to show that love when we are very young. But if that love has been denied to us, we cannot become healthy, functional adults. No amount of counseling will heal the wounds of rejection. Counseling might help us to understand it, but it will not heal the pain.
I suffered a great deal of rejection as a young child. My mother told me often that when she accidentally became pregnant with me at 39 years of age, she did not want me. She already had two older sons and she was finished having kids. She tried many different home remedies to cause a miscarriage. Fortunately none of them worked. But when I was a year old, she became pregnant again, and this time she aborted my sibling. I’m not sure what would cause her to so freely discuss such things with me as a child, but she did. I knew from the time I was very young that if I had been the younger sibling, I would have been the dead one.
I struggled for many years with this rejection. It had a great influence on my life and how I perceived both myself and other people. I discovered that there were two things that I had to choose to do to start the process of healing. And it really is a process that takes time.
First and foremost I had to choose to forgive her and repent for my anger towards her. That does not in any way absolve her of what she did. But it set me free. I read somewhere once that “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies”. That is probably the most profound way to truly explain the amount of damage that holding onto anger does to a person. I was very, very angry. And it was hurting me, not her.
I had to choose to forgive her and I also had to choose to repent of my deep, deep anger towards her and everyone else in the world. It was not easy. But it opened the door that allowed God to heal my heart.
Often times being healed from our response to rejection requires us to choose to once again trust. This can be very difficult as well, but we must learn to become wise in our choices of who we trust. Not all are trustworthy.
Because I was so wounded as a child from this rejection, I was a magnet to attracting other people who would in turn reject me. I was comfortable with rejection. It was a very familiar behavior from other people and thus I attracted the very thing that I hated the most. This is quite common, especially if we struggle with feelings of being unlovable or unworthy of being loved. This is where recognizing your own response to rejection is so important. I did not believe that I was worthy of anything better. I did not believe I was worthy of being loved. Somewhere during this season of healing, I had to make the decision that I was indeed worthy of being loved and that I would settle for nothing less. Ever again. I choose to not repeat the past. With wisdom, inner healing from the Lord, and a new mindset I began to choose to allow people into my life who think I am worthy of being loved.
Rejection will come. None of us can change that or control it. But we can choose to control how we respond to it. We can choose to believe that we are worthy of love, and therefore make healthy decisions about who we allow into our inner circle. If you are still reading this, perhaps you also have struggled with rejection your whole life. There is hope and there is healing. But it has to start with forgiveness and repentance of the anger. I encourage you to come to the Father and ask Him to help you.
I remember many years ago when I was struggling with my anger towards my earthly father, who I felt had never protected me or loved me unconditionally. The Lord spoke to me and told me that if I could not forgive my father here on earth, He, God could not forgive me for my sins. There are many parables that Jesus spoke about this in the gospels. Forgiveness and repentance are paramount in our healing process. But the joy and the peace that I have since received were well worth the difficult task of letting go of my anger. I encourage you to forgive and repent of your anger as well. Come to the Father through His Son Jesus, the Messiah. There is healing in His presence.