It was the end of summer in 1994, we were days away my favorite time of year, autumn. There was so much to love about this season, especially the start of the school year, the soccer season, my birthday, and the beginning of the holiday season. But this year, the season didn’t have the same allure it normally had. It didn’t have the comfortable feeling I was used to either. Instead of being introduced to a season of love, acceptance, and joy, I would be introduced to a season of pain and rejection.
My mother had been sick for many years at this point and was now in Hospice care. Just weeks after the school year started I found myself living with my dad, stepmom, and stepbrother, who prior to this, I would visit every other weekend. I recall feeling like an outcast when I would visit. I felt like they had their own little family and I was an intruder. I recall many comments that verified my feelings, like my step-grandmother who once commented that she wouldn’t be going to the Christmas play because she didn’t have any grandchildren in it…yet, my younger sister and I were both in it. Then there was another time that someone had asked my step mom how many children she had, she replied, “three” and I was standing right there, yet when someone would ask my father, he would say six.
At a mere nine years old, I had experienced an onslaught of rejection. I felt rejected by God, by my stepmom and her family. I felt like an outcast at school. Everyone knew my mom had died. I guess they didn’t know what to say, so they avoided me at all costs. I felt excluded from in daily dialogues where teachers would tell us to take home our papers and have our moms sign them. I felt alone…rejected and alone.
In this lifetime, we will certainly face rejection, maybe you are facing it right now. Perhaps you are feeling rejection from your spouse, your family, your friends, your workplace, or your church. Maybe you are facing the rejection of an idea, a plan, or a prayer. Possibly, life has you down and you feel completely rejected by God. I want you to know, you are not alone, and it is okay to feel hurt.
Rejection aches and the effects of rejection bleed into other areas of our life. If we aren’t on guard, it can take us to a place where we no longer recognize the person we see in the mirror. Feeling rejected can cause us to think, say and do senseless things.
How do you respond to rejection? Do you break down or throw down? How should we respond to rejection? Is there a right way?
In the Face of Rejection
Time and time again, the Bible demonstrates how Jesus was rejected, refused and reviled. In the same way, the Bible also recounts Jesus’ relentless pursuit to fulfill His purpose here on earth, despite the rejection he would often face, and we are to do the same. As I was reading 1 Peter 2, I was reminded of how God planned for Jesus to be the Chief Cornerstone of the Church; yet, He was rejected by man (1 Peter 2:4). Our lesson lies in His response to being rejected.
The cornerstone is the most important stone that will be laid in the foundation of any building. It is the first stone laid, and all other stones will be set with reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Christ is the cornerstone on which Christianity and the Church are built, this was God’s plan and human rejection doesn’t defeat the ultimate purpose God had in making Christ the Cornerstone. Humans can betray Him, mock Him, spit on Him, despise Him, desert Him, strike Him, crown Him in thorns, strip Him, and even crucify Him, but they cannot stop Him from being what God predestined Him to be. People can’t stop you from being what God intended you to be either. Regardless of man, God’s plan still stands.
YOU Were Chosen
Long before you were rejected, you were chosen (1 Peter 2:9). We may be rejected, dismissed, betrayed, belittled and set aside, but that does not change who we are, whose we are, or what we were created to do. Feelings of rejection may entice us to revile, stand up for ourselves in aggressive ways, or “get even”, but we are urged to remember this isn’t our home and this isn’t our battle (1 Peter 2:11-12).
Getting hung up in rejection is an issue of pride. It causes defensiveness, a harsh spirit, it is presumptuous in nature, in that it assumes we have a right to something or we deserve something. It cares more about what people think than what God thinks. It places trust in man and not in God, to aid in meeting the desires of our heart.
Feelings of rejection are rooted in fear. We fear the shame in rejection, yet God says we will not be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6). We fear the rejection of not fitting in, yet God says we are chosen (1 Peter 2:9). We fear not having a place at the proverbial table, but God has prepared a place for us (Ephesians 2:6). We fear that we are rejected because we are not enough, however, God says we are made perfect in Christ (Colossians 2:10). We fear that we may be rejected because we don’t have enough, and God reminds us that everything on earth is His (Psalms 24:1). We fear that we don’t have what it takes, but God says we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).
Friends, God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). It’s no coincidence that love conquers all (1 Corinthians 13) and that it holds more power than revile.
So, how are we to respond to rejection? With love, the same love that Christ displayed on the cross:
1 Peter 2:21-24 ESV
“21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed”.
We have been healed and we can be healed from these feelings of rejection if we accept Christ’s healing OR we can allow these feelings of rejection to manifest themselves into insecurities and the fear that binds us and keeps us from our purpose.
If you knew someone gave their life to save yours wouldn’t you live your life more fully, more completely, more fearlessly? Wouldn’t you do anything to honor them with your life, your words, and your actions? Then let us live as light in the face of rejection, let us be love in the face of rejection, let us trust in him who judges justly.
Christ is to be our cornerstone in all things; in our joy and in our suffering. Let us look to Him for how we should position our hearts and our minds when facing rejection. Remember, He purposed us, chose us, and He offers us not only a seat next to Him at His table, but He prepared a residence for us. An investment in eternity, prime real-estate, at His right hand. We are not rejected or forsaken, we are chosen and holy.
Regardless of how man feels about you, God’s plan still stands!