13 Oct When Rejection Ruins Who You Thought You Were
When you’ve experienced rejection in your life, a serious rejection of all that you are, you see everything through the lens of being unwanted and unworthy. Worthless, as a matter of fact, and disposable. You very easily operate from the assumption that who you are is never enough, and you believe with every fiber of your being that even your presence in a room is tolerated but never wanted.
Every interaction is guarded, and you wait for the inevitable moment when you will be pushed aside, cast away like the rubbish you are. Small slights from others reinforce your beliefs about your value, and self-preservation begs you to build walls to protect yourself from further destruction. You isolate yourself because you know you are an outsider, a person whose purpose is to be seen but not heard. Noticed but not acknowledged. Tolerated but never loved.
The rejection becomes something not just done to you, but your very identity. You weren’t rejected – you are rejected. It’s never a past-tense action; it’s ongoing and assumed in the future. It’s the air that surrounds you, the enveloping presence with you forever.
Living as one rejected is excruciating, and without intentionality, it becomes your default and your downfall.
Humans are built for relationships, and relationships were intended by the Creator to be an extension of His love, a revelation of His commitment, and a picture of His devotion. But in a sinful world full of broken people, relationships fail.
And in our minds, if we’re not careful, the treatment we receive from others can become what we believe will be our treatment from God. It can become the defining characteristic of our lives – feeling rejected. Knowing we’re unwanted. Understanding we weren’t chosen.
And the worst part is perhaps not just knowing what happened to us in the past, but believing – knowing – assuming – it will happen to us again in the future. We begin to look for these rejections, subconsciously, at least, and when we look for them, they’re all we see.
I received an email this week informing me I wasn’t chosen. “Well, of course not,” I told myself.
I heard about a gathering I wasn’t included in. “Naturally,” I told myself.
I saw posts about an event I wasn’t invited to. “Why would I be?” I asked myself.
When you consider yourself someone always rejected, that’s who you become. The world just reinforces what you already believe.
I’ve found recovering from rejection to be a years-long process. Maybe sometimes the healing happens overnight, and maybe sometimes the mindset of rejection is miraculously removed. But it hasn’t been for me.
Recovering from rejection has been, for me, a daily surrender to the truth of God that says, “You are mine. You are chosen. You are wanted.” For me, it is a moment by moment decision to retrain my thoughts from feeling worthless to worthy. Loser to loved. Rejected to ransomed. For me, it has been two steps forward and three steps back. For me, it has been hearing people say, “It’s time to move on,” and people not understanding why old feelings rise up again.
To those of you who have faced crushing rejection, I want you to hear these words.
When the rest of the world is ignorant and intolerant of the load you feel you can’t bear, I understand. I know what it’s like to peer at your surroundings, suspicious of where the next hurt will come from. Where the next unkindess will originate. When the next blow will level you. I understand.
I understand the feelings you can’t put into words and the new you that never existed before. I understand why caution is the impetus behind every action.
I do. I really understand.
But I also want to invite you to join me in this journey of healing.
We could continue as we are for the rest of our lives, living in self-protection mode, holding people at arm’s length and assuming the worst. We could keep right on believing we’re the outsiders, the ones nobody wanted or will ever want again. We could. But let’s not.
Let’s not live perpetually wounded, but perfectly recovering. Let’s not reject the good we could find and the love we could receive by hiding in the shadows where we feel we belong. Let’s not forfeit lives of purpose by wallowing in past pain.
We have a choice.
When rejection marches toward us again – and it will – let’s remind ourselves we are loved by a God who sacrificed to save us. When we see evidence we were excluded, let’s remind ourselves that rejection is often protection. When old wounds break open again, let’s give ourselves permission to pursue healing.
Let’s be people not defined by our pasts, not controlled by others’ rejection, and not at the mercy of what has been done.
Let’s be people moving toward healing, stepping into wholeness, and believing we are loved.
We have a choice about what happens next. Let’s choose to come back to life.
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