I have made many mistakes and learned many lessons in this area. In times past, I've "shared" advice online with a splash of religion on this topic, but really I was just saying what I wanted to out of a place of bitterness and a hardened heart. This is not that type of post. I hope and truly pray that these words encourage you and inspire you to look to Jesus for the way out of every negative thought and mindset. Rejection is something that we all can overcome in Christ. By His stripes, we are healed. We are set free thanks to what the Lord did for us on the cross. I'm so thankful! So without further ado, I hope you are encouraged by this reading.
I'll start right off by saying, I hate to be rejected. Or even feel like I am. It's an insecure place within me. My own personal childhood experiences: parents getting divorced, family issues, mother/daughter issues, my own proclivity to sin - have fanned this flame growing up. So, as a result of what I've dealt with, rejection for me is absolutely the worst feeling. It's a frustrating process for me to work through - and even now, I have to rely on Jesus and be very, very intentional about how I deal with it. My usual response is internalizing it and overanalyzing everything.
I start by picking myself apart:
"What's wrong with me?"
"What did I do wrong?"
"I tried to be really nice."
"Did I make a mistake unknowingly?"
The questions are endless. And I mean, endless. I have zero conversations with the Lord. I'm too busy having a destructive conversation with me, myself and I.
I pridefully slap a fake smile on and push through how I feel. I foolishly hope it will just go away, but that's when the poison starts to settle and set into my heart. As a result, this hurt starts to leak out in unhealthy, destructive ways. I want to do what people have done to me. It seems like it works for them. It seems like they're doing just fine tossing me to the side. So, I make the choice to imitate that. Nevermind the words of Christ. Nevermind the uncomfortable but blessed way of the Lord. I want to do to others what others have done to me. It's a vicious cycle. It's a broken and decayed way of living.
What's worse, while in this cycle, I am heavily convicted and burdened with the sin of not loving others the way I should.
Even been there? I know for a fact that I am not alone. Rejection and dealing with it properly can be a real issue for some. So, what do we do about it?
For starters, let's take people and what they've done to us out of the equation. Let's just focus on ourselves and our reactions. Because truthfully, that's all that matters. Regardless of what has happened, there is something very wrong with throwing people away based on our emotions and mindsets. I don't care what Instagram post you may read, or witty Facebook quote someone posts, as followers of Jesus, and according to His Word, it is not right. To treat people unkindly just because they have done that to us is understandable, but it's not Christlike. (Matthew 5:46)
Let me be the very first to say, I have done this more times than I'd like to admit. It's a natural reaction to reflect the negative things people have done to us back to them or to others. Or what we think they have done to us, but we have to be intentional about not always doing what feels natural. Sin is natural. Because we are covered in flesh and we have a fallen nature, it just flows out of us, but through Christ - his birth, death, and resurrection - we can walk a new path of an abundant life. Not doing it in our own strength, but relying on the Lord through it all. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I had to realize that there was something very broken within myself. I had to learn to stop blaming myself for others making the choice - unprovoked - to reject me or to walk away from me.
I can speak about it all because this is a real battle I have to face. This is a cycle that I naturally succumb to. However, I have learned that I don't have to do what I've always done. Jesus shows me a different path, a more life-giving one, should I choose to accept it. I don't always get it right, but when I decide to go with God, He gives me peace beyond my understanding in these types of situations.
So, here are 4 things to help you process rejection (or even perceived rejection) and deal with it in a healthy way:
1. Don't take it personally
As a woman, I feel things. I feel things often. But something my husband says when I talk to him about things that may happen to me is, "don't take it personally." I don't want to hear that, but when I take that in, it helps me. What's done to us, sometimes, has nothing to do with us, but with the other person. Someone may be having a bad day, or just had an argument with their spouse, or just found out a family member got a bad medical report. It could be literally anything. So, instead of assuming and immediately getting offended, we just need to remember that the world doesn't revolve around us.
2. Remember your worth in Christ
Whether it's overt or perceived rejection from others, that doesn't lower our worth or value in Christ. We are unconditionally loved by Jesus whether people do or not. People will fail us and disappoint us, after all they are human, just like we are. We all need Jesus! If we can keep this truth at the forefront of our lives, we will develop a much thicker skin to deal with attacks that try to come our way. And we will be willing to show more grace when we are wronged. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
3. Try to overlook it and move on
Move past the moment. Start thinking about all that the Lord has done. Try counting your blessings and thinking about who Jesus is in your life. This is a good time to start reading some scriptures on exactly how you may be feeling. We also have to be willing to leave situations alone and leave things in God's Hands. God deals with hearts better than we ever could. That's not our job anyway.
Here are some scriptures to meditate on:
4. If you can't move on, communicate
If you have tried to do your best to trust Jesus, truly pray and give the situation time, talk it over (not gossip) with another godly friend, and extend grace but you are still bothered or unable to get past it, it may be time to communicate with that person. (Matthew 5:23-24) It's important to be Spirit-led at this point. Be prepared, you may even hear something that you may have done unknowingly, so be ready to share honestly and receive honesty.
Prayerfully, the situation will be peacefully resolved after that conversation, but even if you are not received in a heart of love or the person rejects you again, forgive and let it be. Ask Jesus to keep a root of bitterness from growing in your heart. Refrain from treating people the way you've been treated. Or being ugly to others just because. Really rest in your heart knowing you tried being like Jesus all the way to the end. That's all that matters, what you have done and if you obeyed Jesus or not.
I love how He redeems it all though, God has a beautiful way of bringing healthy and loving people into our lives at the right time. We just have to trust Him in all things. (Jeremiah 17:7)
This list above isn't set in stone, the Holy Spirit may have you do something completely different, these are just some things I've learned have helped me. I have not arrived sis, not at all! I am still being perfected in these very areas. However, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can take meaningful steps in dealing with rejection in healthy, Christ-like ways.
If you need professional help processing your past and any traumatic things that may have happened to you, seek the Lord to guide you to an experienced, godly counselor who can help you. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. There is nothing wrong with needing help.
Focus on the Family has a great resource! They offer callers a free one-time complimentary consultation with a Christian chaplin or counselor. They also offer referrals for licenses Christian counselors in your area. Click the link here, for more information.
Don't ever be ashamed or afraid to ask for help!