The feeling of being left out hit me in the pit of my stomach; once again, I felt rejected.
I was blaming others for their rejection of me, but there was a deeper issue. I remember the day a friend named it in me, asking me why it seemed I wanted to run from her.
I was taken aback initially, but that day I realized how my insecurities and self-image drove my response to others. Deep inside I felt unworthy, unlovable, and this resulted in me distancing myself from others. Though I genuinely wanted close relationships, I was inadvertently pushing others away through my attitude.
Maybe you’ve felt this way, too? The enemy stands ready to take thoughts like these and twist them so that it blinds us to the love and care that is around us, that others do want to give but are shut out by us. Furthermore, these lies also blind to the truth of God’s love. He gets shut out, too.
Here is what I know to be true: rejection happens to us all, and the enemy will use these past hurts and dysfunctions to blind us to reality.
So, what can be done? Three things specifically helped me:
First, a major healing change happened when I believed and experienced at a deep level the truth that God loves me and wants me. That is where deeper healing began. I needed to know and experience that truth at a new level. It would not have mattered if I had a few friends or was adored by thousands; if I didn’t know this deep love, I’d still be living wounded and stilted. Jeremiah 31:3 helped me to believe this truth, “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'”
A second change that immensely opened my eyes was talking to a counselor. She was an objective listener who helped me to see what was reality and what was my own perception. I could see where I was reading negativity into a situation that was not actually there. I also grasped a critical truth: I cannot change others; I can only change myself.
Because I had experienced a deeper spiritual healing in terms of my identity and self-worth in Christ, it was easier for me to move onto the third part of the healing process, which was recognizing these feelings and changing my responses to them.
I had a choice: I could continue to be hurt, bitter, and lash out at those around me. I could assume the worst of others, that they disliked me and continue to distance myself, diving further into a negative vortex of assumptions. Or I could choose to believe something different. I could assume the best, instead of the worst. I could envision myself loving them because I was sure of God’s love for me and also because I loved myself better. These two loves were prerequisites for me to love others better.
Of course, not everyone is going to like me or love me. Rejections will continuously be present in life. They may be real, imagined, or colored by past hurts or insecurities, but they will definitely happen. That’s okay. We cannot please everyone, and that’s also okay.
Rejection does and will continue to hurt. The difference, however, is that I do not allow it to define me and I have a choice in how I respond. I cannot control what others do, but I can control my response. Responding with hatred and more self-pity is not the solution I found that leads to freedom. Instead, it made the situation worse and sent me spiraling into depression and anger, which is its own kind of prison.
God’s way isn’t the easy way, and it doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world. Assuming that I’m unlovable and unloved is destructive and to continue along that path of thinking is most assuredly not the abundant life God had in mind when Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV).
Loving others won’t make me instantly popular or alter how many rejections or hurts await down the road. But hopefully, others will be drawn to something deep inside because when God’s love is encountered, it is irresistible.
The way to accomplish any of this isn’t by myself. I have absolutely nothing in me that can do any of this on my own. I constantly need to ask God for help and strength. He does what weak me cannot do. He is bigger than my self-centeredness, my hurt, my past, any rejections, my grief, my loss, my loneliness, my pain, my mistakes, failed relationships, and difficult circumstances. He is bigger than all of those. I am grateful, thankful, and humbled by this God, who loves me more than I can know and understand and set the example by first loving me.