By Mary A. Parks
Did you ever try to solve a problem, only to get discouraged because you couldn’t find the source? For many of us, that is our life story. For as long as we can remember, we’ve tried to make everyone around them like them. We did what we thought people wanted us to do, said what we thought people wanted us to say, acted like we thought people wanted us to act – all so others would like or love us. Deep down we know why, but often it takes years to acknowledge and come to grips with the underlying reason(s). For many who are born into relationships where our father is not present or early contact with our mother is denied due to various factors, a spirit of rejection hovers over us all of our life, often before we draw our first breath. Over the years, that rejection grafts itself onto relationships with others – parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, etc.
The rejection issue is a big one facing many in the church today. Because of our fear of rejection, we live our lives as a slave to what people think of us, instead of living up to what God thinks of us. If we continue to live only up to what people think, we’ll never please everyone. All that matters is that we please God. In Galatians 1:10, we are reminded that, “If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
In Chapter 3 of “Ministering Freedom To The Emotionally Wounded,” Chris Hayward talks about “Overcoming Rejection.” According to Hayward, there are four “walls” of rejection: Rejection of God, Fear of Rejection, Self-rejection and Rejection of Others.
Before we look at the different “walls,” let’s take an overview of rejection. To reject means “to throw away,” “discard.” Rejection is the act of “being denied love.” The feeling of being discarded leads us to believe that we are unloved. When we feel unloved, we deem ourselves worthless. As much as we feel rejected/unloved/worthless, that is how much we are unable to receive love, whether from God or people. Often, we hear when people tell us they love us, but we don’t truly recognize that love for the gift it is. Instead, we wait for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop, and anxiously anticipate when that love will be withdrawn.
The Enemy, Satan, is a liar, a thief and a murderer. He’s a liar because he tries to convince us that what he is saying (through our perceptions) is true – that we are worthless, unloved, un-cared-for. This idea directly contradicts Scripture. In many passages, we are told of our value in God’s sight. He is a thief, because he tries to steal our faith, our peace, our joy, our freedom in Christ. In fact, in the Greek, the word for “steal” is “klepto”. Just as in life, too often, the theft isn’t noticed until it’s too late. He is a murder because he wants us to give ourselves over to worthless pursuits – things that are empty and void of any purpose or plan, thereby “killing” any chance we have to engage in meaningful, Kingdom-building activity. He is a destroyer because he destroys (completely ruins) lives and causes regret over things undone or dreams unpursued.
But, the grace that shines through is this: Jesus is the opposite of all of that – the antidote, the remedy! He’s Truth personified. He restores instead of stealing. He rebuilds instead of tearing down, and that which He rebuilds is beautiful. He is Life itself! In laying down His life, He restores life to us.
The Enemy is tricky – he knows that he can only really make us ineffective by hitting us where it’s most vital – our faith and love. He makes us self-centered so that we cannot function in the full assurance and power of our faith. He takes the joy and peace we once knew and replaces it, over time little by little, with rejection, fear and pain.
According to Hayward, the four “walls” of rejection are:
Rejection of God: God says in His word that we are His children, that we are made in His image – beautiful. Anytime we think less of ourselves than this, we are, in effect, rejecting His word, and by connection, Him.
Fear of Rejection: We want everyone to like us. But, at the same time, we tend to sabotage our relationships. We don’t keep in touch like we should. We get close to someone and then pull back. Could it be that we are afraid of losing them at some point? Is it that, maybe, by being in control of when the relationship ends, we won’t feel rejected because we are doing the rejecting? It’s a vicious cycle – we try to run from relationships because we don’t want to risk being hurt – but in doing so, we feel more rejection, and so the next time we have the chance to enter a relationship, we withdraw further, adding more perceived rejection. It’s hard to trust people when we are caught up in a cycle of rejection – always wondering when they will end up not liking us for whatever reason. So often, it feels like it is easier to not even get involved.
Self-Rejection: Have you ever watched Sesame Street when they had the “One of these things just doesn’t belong here, One of these things just isn’t the same” segments – a group of things where 3 are similar, but 1 item is really different? When dealing with rejection, we can feel like the thing that wasn’t the same – out of place. But, to think that the first sacrifice ever (Gen. 3:21) was made so that Adam and Eve could have a permanent covering for their “shame” reminds us that Jesus’ sacrifice covers us from our hopelessness, worthlessness and worse.
Rejection of Others: A lot of people have hurt us over the years – some intentionally, some not. It’s hard to let go of that hurt. We have to remember that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. We may not feel like hugging the people that hurt us, but we can still choose to forgive them. In forgiving, we release our pain, leaving it at the feet of our Father. We ask God to come and fill the hollow places left when we release the pain, and we ask Him to bless those who have hurt or offended us. We do this so that we can stand before our Father and receive the forgiveness He offers to us (Matt.6:14-15). We may not feel like we have forgiven, but in that moment, we receive our freedom in Christ from the bitterness that once bound us.
Father, I want to know you as “Daddy.” I’ve had glimpses of it…seen it from a distance, but I want to know it in my heart…I’m sorry that I’ve rejected you. Forgive me for not really truly believing and living in your love. I repent of my pride, stubbornness and self-will…I reject and renounce the spirit of rejection that has seemingly overcome me. Help me to live in the promise that You have overcome the world and all that is in and of it. I refuse to accept this feeling of rejection any longer. I break any connection and all agreement with this spirit – any generational binds and ties, I break those as well…It is only through Your authority, power and sacrifice that I break down these walls of rejection in Jesus’ name!