Unloved. Unwanted. Never good enough. Have you ever felt this way? If you are human, you most certainly have for at least one time in your life. Many of you have experienced rejection many, many times, even by the ones who are or were supposed to love us the most. Personally (for I can only really 100% speak for myself), I have experienced on and off rejection since the tender age of two, by people at a daycare center. That is why, unless I feel that a person has rejected me in some way, I will most likely never reject them because I know personally the pain of not being or feeling loved by another.
I am reading the book, Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst, which deals with this very issue, and I will be referencing (and putting references to her credit where it is due) some of her ideas on how to deal with rejection, as well as some of my own. (Shameless plug: For more info on how you can get her book, please visit amazon or iTunes. They should have it there. )
Tips on how to deal with rejection (from a biblical perspective):
1.) Be genuine.—Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. The old adage, “It’s better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for someone you are not.” rings true here. People will and DO eventually find out “who you really are” no matter how hard we try to hide our true selves. It’s because God consistently cracks our masks we wear in public, so to expose the Truth of who we really are. If you are genuine, and are rejected you will be only rejected once (even though I know and acknowledge this may be really painful for most). But if you are fake and are acknowledged, your true self would be rejected twice. Once when others embrace the false self and the other time when they find out your deception and find out who you really are.
2.) See that in the rejection God may be protecting you from something even worse happening to you or may be preparing you for something better (ref to : TerKeurst, Uninvited, 133-34)
This actually happened to me while I was searching for my current job. I had an interview at a place where I really wanted to work, but unfortunately I found out quickly that I really wasn’t a good fit for the company or the place. I was a bit disappointed and thought I wouldn’t find a good job, even though I did well at my previous job. However, one day I called my current job’s place to see if there was an update on the status of my resume and they called me in for an interview that very day. God, through several people, graciously provided that job for me. And at this job, God has provided many opportunities not only to advance my career, but also to minister to many people there, both customers and employees. Had I been accepted at the other place, I may have been laid off now (the place was not that big), or fired, and had less opportunities to minister to other people.
Hard as it is, we need to see that in the rejection, God may be preparing you for something or someone better or protecting us from a bad fate, or both! We need to look to the future and not in our past failures or rejections
3. Don’t put your whole identity in the person or persons that rejected you
If the situation is a person or persons that rejected you, especially if it is someone you admire, love, or respect, this may be very difficult. However, in order to heal from the rejection, we need to separate what the person thinks of us from who we really are. In TerKeurst’s words, we need to “stop the spiral by replacing the labels” (TerKeurst, Uninvited, 131). For instance, if your mother or father rejected you in some way, it does not mean that you are “unlovable” or a “reject” to everyone else in the world. It may feel that way sometimes, but feelings don’t always necessitate truth! Instead, for instance, you may seek the help of God or a therapist to help you believe positive qualities about yourself so that you don’t have to live in shame or fear of further rejection by other people. Also, what I have learned from my experiences with rejection, is that not everyone will like or love you, and that sometimes you cannot get others to like or love you. While it’s frustrating, it doesn’t mean that you will be rejected by everyone. Even if you somehow were, as long as you don’t reject Him, God will never reject you! You don’t have to “try” harder to get someone to like or love you. Just be yourself and continually try to improve who you already are to glorify God and become a better person, not to become popular. But haven’t we all worked harder to get liked or loved sometimes? I know, it’s difficult, because we all want to be loved and that’s a natural human desire, but don’t let rejection define you.
4.) If possible, don’t reject other people.
Audrey Hepburn, the actress, wisely stated, ” People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” It’s understandable and may even be necessary to reject people who are abusive or a danger to your physical or mental health, so I don’t mean that. However, be careful not to reject someone just because they have a disability, are a certain race or class, religion, look a certain way, identify with a certain gender or sexuality, or don’t think the way you do. Also, never reject someone just because they’re hurting. If you don’ t know how to comfort or console them, a.) try your best or b.) Make sure you find someone else (i.e…a qualified professional or another person) that can. When we reject the vulnerable, weak, or marginalized members of our society, what we are saying with our actions is that we won’t help Jesus, and when we become weak, vulnerable, or marginalized, it may be that others will remember our rejections of other like people, and in turn think we deserve to be rejected, and reject our cries for help. Not only that, but if we don’t repent (i.e…continue to reject the marginalized), we will face ultimate rejection from God Himself. This is illustrated in Matt 25:45-46, when Jesus says, ” Then he [God] will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (ESV-emphasis mine).