What is your relationship with rejection? The question popped into my head recently while I was praying and fasting. I brushed it away because it seemed pointless; but rejection being what it is, (not easily forgotten), my mind went immediately to what felt like the most recent one I’d experienced, and a tear came to my eye.
But the question didn’t leave me, and so I started to think about the many areas in which I’ve experienced rejection. I’m certain that as you read this, our lists would be similar: creativity, family, work, friends, acquaintances, and even by people who don’t even know us. Rejection leaves a mark that if we allow it, could be indelible; but the reality is that rejection is not really what we think it to be.
Rejection feels as it it is all about us, but the truth is, it isn’t! Rejection is not about us – it’s about the person who is making the decision about us. That someone considered us and decided that the cons outweighed whatever pros they may have seen in us. We didn’t measure up to whatever standard they used to decide on our validity.
Think of the prophets whose words we now read, and sometimes hang on to for dear life. David, who wrote so many of the Psalms that help us through emotional highs and lows, was rejected by the king he loved. All David wanted was to serve him well, and be loved by him. Instead, he was chased by Saul so that he had to hide in caves. He gave honor and respect to the king, but got none of that in return.
Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. Today many of us have his words placed as affirmations where we can see them, but when he was alive he wanted to just keep his mouth shut because of all the derision he was on the receiving end of.
Even Jesus knew rejection, but now He is the head of a worldwide movement, and has been for centuries. He was rejected by His following, His friends, and ultimately, by His disciple, Judas.
Rejection is always about the person doing the rejecting. It is a choice that they make based on their standards, and their heart – it is not about you. They are either ready for you as you are in this season of their life, or they are not. It doesn’t matter what your motives or objectives are in putting yourself in a place where you can be rejected. Look again at the short list I just made. Think about their motives. What were their objectives and goals? Can you see that the reactions they received were totally not about them, but about the people who reacted to them?
In David’s case, Saul’s son, Jonathan, had access to the same information about David that his father did, but his reaction to David was the opposite of his father’s. David and Jonathan shared a deep friendship. The rejection or acceptance wasn’t about David; it was about the different hearts of father and son, and what they chose to do with what they knew.
In Jesus’ case, all His disciples were privy to the same teachings that He gave, His actions and words, and the sides of His personality that we have no record of. Peter denied him and Judas betrayed Him. These were choices they made individually. What they did with Jesus was not about Him, it was about them, and where their hearts were.
The reason rejection hurts us so badly is because we make ourselves vulnerable to certain people and want them to accept us. We’ve accepted them as valuable, and our expectation is that they will think the same of us. That, unfortunately, is not how life works. Acknowledging this makes a world of difference in how you see yourself, and how you move on from rejection.
Rejection is sad, and I’m not suggesting you live your life as if it didn’t happen to you. It is vital for your emotional health that you confront rejection for what it is, cry the necessary tears, and grieve what you missed out on when they rejected you, and what they missed out on by doing so. But part of your grieving should include the acknowledgement that this really was not about you. When that person came into your life they’d already had their own life experiences and rejections, and had (consciously or subconsciously) created their standards for making choices in their lives. You happened in on their life for a season, and their rejection of you isn’t about your value, it is about the way they see the world.
Ever since that fast during which I started to contemplate the question, “What is your relationship with rejection?“, I’ve been trying to apply everything I’ve written here. I am embracing acceptance of the fact that I have been rejected in so many areas that it is something I’ve come to expect. That is my relationship with rejection: it’s happened so often that I now expect it.
How has the expectation of rejection influenced my thoughts and actions? How has the expectation of rejection kept me from trying new things? Meeting new people? Going new places? I hate to admit it, but it has been a factor that has extremely limited my choices.
That’s me being honest. Now it’s your turn: how has it affected you? What has been your relationship with rejection? How has it kept you from stepping out and doing the things?
Rejection is the opposite of who we are in Christ. In Him we are Chosen! How different would your actions be today if you really believe that you are chosen? God’s heart towards us is to accept us; just take a look at the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. That’s a clear example that you can be accepted no matter what you’ve done, or how you’ve hurt someone. That father could have rejected his son, and had every right to; instead he watched and waited for his return.
The heart of the father was to accept his son back. Rejection or acceptance is in the heart of a person giving it. There is nothing you can do to put it there. And if you can’t put it there, it really isn’t about you or who you are. When you are accepted or chosen by someone it’s because it’s in their heart to do so. The same is true if you’re rejected by them; that is what is in their hearts to do.
What is left up to you is to receive the rejection or the acceptance for what they are. Often, we can’t receive acceptance because we are so accustomed to rejection. I am praying that as you read this, the chains of rejection will fall of you, and that you will get a new sense of boldness and confidence that come from acknowledging the beauty of who you are – and that while some people will reach for you, others will run from you.
I pray we all learn a new way of handling rejection; that instead of internalizing it, that we will see it for what it is – that they’re just not ready for you – and keep striving to be the best version of ourselves that we are ready to be in this season.
Maybe it’s time for a shake up in your relationship with rejection today.
Copyright © Debbie Mendoza August 2021