However you Google it, most sources list REJECTION as one of the top 10 most common fears among humanity. And let’s face it—it stinks. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to navigate life without encountering it at some point, as I’m sure you have noticed.
Fearing rejection from any source (friends, significant others, family, job, clubs, ministry) can stop you dead in your tracks. It can paralyze you and put you out of commission for any further meaningful encounters. But I want you to step back and realize that rejection won’t kill you! (You’re still kickin’ as far as I can tell.)
Fear is a completely different issue. Fear is not just a feeling; it is a spirit, and it stalks you, lies to you and shuts you down. How do you combat a spirit of fear? With the spirit of FAITH, the Holy Spirit! Although that is a topic for another day, we have to distinguish rejection from the fear of rejection in order to deal with each effectively. Just remember that faith will defeat fear because the object of our faith is a victorious King Jesus!
Rejection feels like someone stamped a giant UNWANTED sign on your forehead. Or maybe for you it’s NOT GOOD ENOUGH, FAILURE or something else entirely. Being rejected hurts. It devalues you, sometimes in a humiliating way. So how can you rise above rejection? I’m glad you asked.
1. Separate incident from identity.
Receiving a “no” does not rename you Unwanted. Realize that the incident of hearing “no” doesn’t actually define who you are. Even when someone tells you that you are unwanted, you don’t have to adopt that label. Patterns of rejection in your life can sway your thinking and bring you to a crisis of belief, for sure, but don’t be fooled into thinking rejection can tell you who you are. You are a prized creation from the very hand of God (Psalm 8:5). You are loved and cherished by your heavenly Father. You are seated in heavenly places and have influence over many people (Ephesians 2:4-7). Switch lenses from natural to spiritual when you start looking at your situation, and understand who God says you are. If you’re not sure what God thinks about you, why don’t you ask Him right now? We’ll wait.
2. Wield your shield.
Scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing … and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). If you just heard God tell you what He thinks about you, then faith has been deposited into your heart. Paul listed faith as an article of spiritual armor we wear as we stand against our evil enemy, Satan (Ephesians 6:16). Faith is a shield that can fend off the fiery darts he throws at us. Faith can save our lives from the assault of evil! When you feel the sting of rejection, lift up your shield of faith!
3. Look up.
A natural physical response to rejection is to hang your head and look down. A natural emotional response to rejection is to cringe and look inside yourself. But the spiritual response to rejection should be to look UP. If you can connect your spirit with God in those painful moments, your emotions and even your posture will start to follow suit. It is imperative for a Christian to develop the habit of looking up for help (Psalm 121). You won’t find any comfort looking at the floor or looking inside yourself! If ever anyone understood the pain of rejection, it is Jesus (Isaiah 53:3). He understands what you have gone through, and He can reach down inside you to repair the damage (Hebrews 4:14-16).
One of the most uncomfortably beautiful things about life is the opportunity to grow at every turn. Sometimes you get rejected for legitimate reasons—symptoms of deeper issues that need to be resolved. It is okay to admit that something has gone wrong inside you, and it is noble to do the work of getting help and finding healing. Your best investment in a healthy relationship is offering a spiritually, physically and emotionally healthy you to another person. If issues have risen to the surface from a recent rejection, start dealing with them. Talk to someone! Ask for help! See a counselor, go to rehab, renew your mind—whatever it takes to get you to grow beyond the old stuff. You can be transformed by the power of God at work in you! (2 Corinthians 3:18)
5. Operate in the opposite.
Rejection can be contagious. When you are rejected, you tend to operate in rejection-mode with your other relationships. It’s like some parasite worms its way inside you and takes over (ick). That is, unless you learn to operate in the opposite spirit. When you get the door slammed in your face, lose a job, go through a divorce or experience any other form of rejection, make up your mind that you will not shut down. Decide to live your life with open arms and to accept people where they are. Open, not closed. Loving, not hateful. Merciful, not judgmental. Gracious, not critical. And I’m not even talking about your next romantic interest; I mean how you treat your family and the cashier and the bank teller. This part is actually impossible if you try to grit your teeth and force yourself to do it. The only possible way to operate in the opposite spirit is to be led and filled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-6). He can flow out of you when you’re filled with Him, and that’s what you need most when you have been infected by rejection.
I honestly wish I could spare you from these deep wound-places in life. But I can tell you that experiencing the nearness of God in my own painful moments, and being healed by soaking in His Presence have moved me into a whole other realm of living. Take your soul-pains to the One who knows and loves you most, and He will carry you through the veil of the known into an amazing place of new life. You truly can rise above rejection, dear friend. I’m cheering for you!