February 19, 2018
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Dealing with Rejection Print E-mail
Dealing with Rejection

Rejection is an attack against a person’s true identity. It causes alienation that leads to compensating behavior, and it disrupts community. Rejection multiplies from one infected person to others and is often passed along generational lines. The one who feels rejected responds by rejecting himself, and from that wounded place may reject others.

The opposite of rejection is acceptance. We often hear people describe their rejection as “not being loved.” But one of the challenges of this condition is that the rejected person is unable to receive love. What a vicious cycle! It is a trap into which many have fallen, and the ways of the world offer no solution.

Rejection can be communicated through words. When one person says they do not want you, there is not much room for misunderstanding. It is rejection. It can be intentional, like when an abused person lashes out against another person. It can also be unintentional, like when a person does not guard their tongue and the hearer takes it as rejection. A common playground experience serves as an example. When two sides are choosing teams, and one person is picked last, or worse yet not picked, it communicates rejection.

Rejection can also be communicated through actions. When one person shuns another, it indicates an unwillingness to be with them. It can be intentional, particularly in cases of prejudice. It can also be unintentional, like when a distracted person seems to ignore another. Sometimes people feel the sting of rejection the greatest when it comes through actions that “speak louder than words.”

Affirmation

The opposite of rejection, as a verb, is affirmation. In other words, when a person feels affirmed they experience acceptance. However, if that person does not receive affirmation their true identity has been rejected.

This is interesting, because we are created to live in community. God set us up in families, clans, peoples and nations. We are designed to interact and share with each other. In His wisdom, God chose to withhold some personal information from each of us so it can be shared by others. It takes an outside perspective to recognize some of our character traits, strengths, and special abilities. Even if we have a hunch about our peculiarities, they are so ingrained that we consider them normal. It takes the observation of an outsider to say: “Wow, you’re really good at that!”

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills. - 1 Corinthians 12:11

Gifts and abilities are apportioned to each one individually according to the will of the Holy Spirit. When a person acts within his or her giftedness it seems effortless and the results are multiplied. It takes a third party to recognize and appreciate the gift. When it is affirmed, the one with the gift may be surprised that anyone would notice something that seems so simple.

Rejection Sources

Rejection from parents might be the costliest of all. Mothers and fathers are supposed to carefully watch their children grow up, and prophetically proclaim every God-given gift they see. In love and admiration for God’s creation, they are the front line for calling forth their child’s unique and fascinating identity. When that affirmation is not given it leaves a void in the child’s understanding of who he or she was created to be. Their true identity has been rejected.

Rejection from parents can also occur when mothers and fathers misdiagnose the gifts and abilities. This may happen by inattention if they are oblivious to the special things God has done. This may also happen by misappropriation if they are intent on forming the child into their image, rather than the image of God. Promoting a false identity is another form of rejecting the true identity.

As children grow and mature they begin to seek cues and affirmation from others outside of their parents and immediate family. They might not disagree with their parents, but they are definitely looking for a second opinion. It is a form of peer acceptance. Middle school is a common source of rejection. Fitting in with the right group is part of the experimentation of personalities that young people grow through.

The young adult begins to seek affirmation from his or her intended. It is only natural to desire a close and intimate relationship in which the one you love is able to love you back by identifying your strengths and overlooking your weaknesses. However, this stage of life is fraught with difficulty. Rejection often happens at the hands of an unwilling intended.

A final category, for this article’s purposes, is the grown-up version of middle school. When we enter the work-force and interact with other adults, it is important that those in authority over us also affirm our strengths and overlook our weaknesses. Job approval and supportive observations build our work-identity. When that is lacking we face professional rejection.

Discover the Belief

Rejection puts a person’s self-awareness in jeopardy. Because they are ill-equipped to discover their true identity on their own, they are left with false conclusions about who they are. They come to believe lies, such as:

  • There’s something fundamentally wrong with me.
  • I’m not worthy of love.
  • I’ll never measure up.
  • I have nothing to offer.
  • I’m not (good, smart, industrious, cute, sweet, ...) enough.

It is this core belief that stops the person from receiving affirmation of their true identity. For instance, as long as she believes she is not sweet enough to be accepted, she cannot receive affirmation about her gift of teaching. As long as he believes he is not good enough, he cannot believe that God created him to be loyal.

When a person tries to live up to false expectations they fail miserably. If dad always demanded loyalty and uniformity from the boy gifted with creative ability, the boy will continually fail to impress dad and never experience his true nature. He will remain in the throes of rejection.

Mind Renewal

The prayer strategy for overcoming rejection is to identify the false belief, and then ask God to reveal truth in its place.

Often a spiritual transaction of forgiveness is needed to pave the way for hearing truth. Forgive the ones that have rejected you intentionally. Forgive the ones that you have felt reject by, whether they intended it or not. Forgive the ones who have been so caught up in themselves they did not have capacity to consider you. Forgive the hapless and hopeless ones that rejected you because they did not know you existed. Forgive the unfortunates that chose to rebuff your love.

Also, ask God to forgive you for accepting a false identity from those in authority over you.

Then confess the false belief and ask God to replace it with His truth. For instance, you may confess that you believe you have nothing to offer and are therefore unlovable. Ask Him what He has to say about that.

Expect God to answer with an affirmation of His love for you. You are acceptable to Him, and that is why He died for you. You need to hear this in your heart (directly from Him), rather than rehearse it in your mind.

Just recently I prayed with a man who had lived a life of rejection. When we asked God to reveal truth to replace the false belief that there was something fundamentally wrong with him, the answer came as a sensation rather than a word or picture. He shared that he felt Jesus’ embrace. When he felt a hug from his Savior, it changed everything.

Walk in the newness of the truth of who you are. God has created you on purpose for a purpose. He knows how to heal the wounds of rejection. Let Him love you back into your true identity.

 
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