Accepted in the Beloved
Lesson 17: Overcoming Feelings of Rejection
All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
Traumatic experiences easily sow feelings of rejection within us, especially if these were sins of verbal, physical or sexual abuse directed against us. In fact every sin against us is a form of rejection, even the well-meaning, conditional love of parents and teachers who put their approval of us on a performance basis.
Although perfect love must at times reject behavior and attitudes that are not right, the person we are deep down is always loved by God. To be rejected (for who we are) by the looks, words or deeds of others is a tremendously painful, traumatic experience. We desperately want to find a way for overcoming feelings of rejection, but the true way that leads to life is narrow and hard to find; the broad way (which most take) leads to further entrapment and deeper pain.
Many people—the shy, the perfectionists, the exhibitionists, the high achievers - organize their whole lives around trying to avoid rejection by others, while seeking to gain their approvals. The math on this is terrible: Have you noticed that ten approvals can be easily wiped out by one rejection?
Sadly, the pain of possible rejection keeps millions hiding their true self from others (even from God), running from real intimacy, love and life into the safer, shallow waters of meaningless relationships and purposeless lives. Rejection is an ugly stronghold in the land promised to us that must be brought down!
Watch this short video about rejection on our YouTube channel.
Feeling rejected can be very lonely
--unless you get interrupted by God!
The Antidote for Rejection
Begin wrapping your heart and your life around this astounding truth: Our Father will never reject or forsake us.[i] From before the worlds were created He has loved us and desired us. We are secure in Him. This is the antidote for any rejection we feel (review The Father's Heart of Love).
The Father's total and unalterable acceptance is the Fact upon which the joy of our new life is based: Because of His great love for us, He sent Jesus to the cross to atone for all of our sins and has even given His Spirit to help us believe in the grace He wants us to receive.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world... Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself... wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 KJV
The Poison Pill of Rejection
People, on the other hand, can and will reject and forsake us. Rejection by others is extremely painful to experience whenever we are secretly looking to other people to declare our worth to us. However, if our hearts had been established in God's love for us, as Jesus' was, we could have handled the pain of rejection every bit as well as He did.
Fortunately, it is never too late to learn! Let the pain of rejection that you have experienced drive you to fastening your heart on what God says about you, not on what people say. God's view of you is the truth that will set you free.[ii] Overcoming feelings of rejection means that you will have to fight to fall out of agreement with the compelling power of the enemy's beliefs about you. Learn to resist the lion's roar and the serpent's venom![iii]
Considering what rejection is made of, it is no wonder that it is so painful to feel. So, what is rejection? [iv] These are its major parts:
1) It plays an integral role in all mental and emotional illness, since it is very damaging to our sense of self.
2) It is a terrible lie. There may be sin in us worth rejecting, but we are not sin and are never meant to be rejected (see Separation from Sin).
3) It is a sin against us. God has commanded everyone to love and accept us as He does.[v] He commands you to love and accept all of them, right? They are under the same command.
4) It is an evil spirit—one that delights to feel and express rejection in us and towards others.
5) It becomes our own sin of unbelief in God and idolatry of others, whenever we agree with it.
Did you get that last point? The sin of receiving rejection and agreeing with it is the real source of all the pain. The pain of being rejected hurts when it hits us, but holding on to it allows the torment to continue, like a 'death-grip' on an exposed electric wire that was touched while being improperly grounded. We need to learn how to let go and get better grounding![vi]
Rejection can also open doors for the enemy to bring even more pain and problems upon us through the fear of man and through self-rejection (see Love Thyself!). How little did we realize that in seeking people's approvals, we were subtly being trained by an unseen enemy in the ways of idolatry. By trying to get our worth affirmed through others, rather than through God, we began making other people's opinions into a god to us.
Have we become 'addicted' to approval by others? Thank God, this is not held against us and we can begin to find freedom by recognizing sin as sin and turning from our idolatry of others' opinions to instead live by what God declares about us.[vii]
Turning from that false god will leave us sorely lacking a sense of worth unless we can stir our faith to truly trust in and rely upon the acceptance our Father is giving us every moment of the day. It is here that we may encounter another problem—our unbelief in God and inn what He has told us.
In any moment we could have joy, confidence, and assurance of acceptance imparted to us by our loving Father, but He gives it through our faith in His Word and not very often as a feeling. Faith is like an electric tool—it does little good unless it is plugged into a 'live' electrical current. We need to plug what we believe about God into the current of a living faith. To do this we may first have to confess that the sin of unbelief has been capturing our heart and learn to walk by faith, not feeling.[viii]
The truth is that the pain of rejection, as terrible as it is, can actually help us if we learn to let it turn us away from the wrong direction we keep trying to go with our hearts. All along, our hearts were only meant to be 'plugged in' to God. The pain of rejection is like touching a hot stove. Let's learn the lesson and turn away from what burns us and live by what gives life.
Why We Are Vulnerable to Rejection
There is a 'secret knowledge' that snares us. Rejection plays into a painful inner sense that already makes us feel insecure—the knowledge of indwelling sin. Even as children we may have known that something was wrong on the inside, though we would likely not have been able to articulate it.
The terrible truth about our fallenness is that for our sins and separation from God, we should all be rejected. Our sinfulness actually deserves hell—the ultimate rejection. Yet, this truth of who we are apart from Christ is meant to be swallowed up by the greater truth of the gospel: Jesus suffered rejection and abandonment by God on our behalf so that we would never have to experience it. The gospel liberates us from the torment of rejection—if we believe it with our whole heart.
Unchecked by a living faith, rejection creates unhealthy defense mechanisms. These failed coping strategies are ways of the fallen nature we may have used to defend ourselves against rejection when it happened to us, whether it was real or imagined. We may have been only half-aware or completely unaware of what we were doing—no doubt it seemed the best way to handle it at the time. Nevertheless, these ungodly patterns now imprison us behind walls that keep the lovely, New Creation side of ourselves from emerging. Choose to repent of and utterly reject these false coping patterns and you, too, will find youself overcoming feelings of rejection.
Did any of these strategies gain a strong hold on you?[ix]
1) Withdrawal: Retreating like a turtle into its shell in order to avoid rejection. Remedy: Believe God for His acceptance of you, keep your eyes on Him and stay in the game.
2) Anger and Hatred: Rejecting others when hurt by rejection. Remedy: Forgive everyone from the heart and you won't be carrying around so much anger.
3) False Identity: Searching for an identity other than who we are in Christ. Remedy: Trust and obey Jesus so that the Holy Spirit can unfold your true personality.[x]
4) Perfectionism: Trying to avoid possible rejection by becoming 'bullet proof' against criticism. Beware: If you live by the approval of others, you will 'die' by their disapproval. Remedy: Fasten your heart to the grace that God covers you with, living under His leadership, not your own demands.
Rejection often leads to self-rejection, a deceptive and very destructive snare. Spirits of self-rejection want you convinced that you are unworthy, unacceptable, unlovable, and that's why you're being rejected. No! Rejection is always the other person's sin, not yours. In listening to and agreeing with it you open yourself up to hating and rejecting yourself. The more you reject yourself, the more you become afraid that God and everyone you meet will also reject you. This amplifies the pain and the problem. Soon you may be feeling rejected even when you aren't.
Never forget the truth from Ephesians that your Father loved you long before He created you. You are no accident! He made you someone He can and does love wholeheartedly. Let that reality capture your heart - not the opinions of sinful mortals (including yourself). You are fully accepted, totally unique, unconditionally loved and forever embraced. You won the 'spiritual lottery.' By grace alone you are destined to live in endless joy. God's mind is made up! He wants you! So, don't listen to the whispers of a spirit of rejection or let it cast a shadow on God's feelings for you. You are an awesome work of His Hands and Heart.[xi]
Jesus and Rejection
Jesus knows what rejection is. He experienced rejection as a man for our sake throughout His life, His ministry and especially in His dying.
At the cross He felt the full force of rejection first come against Him (as He was rejected and sentenced to death) and then enter within Him (as our sins and their rightful punishment came upon Him).[xii] He was made to be sin so that we could be freely given right standing with God and never be rejected.[xiii] He bore it all at the cross in His innermost being—He knows how awful it feels and how deadly it is. He fully sympathizes.[xiv]
Jesus also bore the rejection of the Father. In the final moments on the cross His mournful cry of dereliction revealed that He was experiencing the full penalty of sin that was due to us—the utter abandonment by God to death, separation and judgment upon sin.[xv] He spared us from ever having to experience that ultimate agony.
Spirits of rejection lie against the truth. They want you to feel rejected, unworthy, inferior and insecure. The truth is that you have very real spiritual enemies who despise you and who will always seek to make you feel rejected, but you don't have to think what they think or feel what they feel. You can learn to rest your heart in God who will never abandon you or reject you.[xvi]
Learn to stop touching the hot stove of letting others declare to you your worth (turn from the idolatry of others). Put your whole heart into what He says He sees when He looks your way (seek to defeat all unbelief). The first step to freedom from any sinful pattern is recognizing the sin or the evil spirit that needs to be dealt with as not being the real you and then dealing with it accordingly.
You are already accepted and saved by God, so don't take no for an answer. Say 'No!' to thoughts of rejection instead. Jesus is God's 'Yes!' to you (His Name is called Yes-hua in Hebrew).[xvii]
The Way to Freedom
Usually the pain of being rejected is easy to recognize as someone's sin against us, but the reality of our own sinful grip on those feelings of rejection is much harder to see and comprehend. Defeating feelings of rejection requires dedication to God's truth.
1) In the midst of the painful feelings, begin declaring forgiveness for the person who rejected you, repenting of the idolatry of putting their opinion about you above God's.
2) Repent for taking the message of rejection to heart, carrying those thoughts captive and repenting of unbelief until you recover faith that God's acceptance of you is all you really need.
3) Turn to the Father and release gratitude to Him that He loves you perfectly and accepts you always—just as you are!
Become so good at receiving God's love,
that acceptance from others is just a bonus!
Father, forgive me for holding out my heart to other people to declare my worth to me. You have declared Your unending love for me and my eternal worth to You by sending Jesus to the cross. Forgive me for letting other people's opinions matter to me more than Your own. I repent of and renounce all rejection I have ever taken on. It is not about what they did or said - it is all about my unwitting sin of holding on to it - and letting them be god to me. By an act of my will I am taking my heart back from others and giving it to You. May I only desire to see me through Your eyes. Thank You for Your steadfast love and acceptance. My heart is safe under the covering of Your perfect love and Your promise to never leave me or forsake me.
Take It to Heart!
Don't just give these truths a 'head bob'! For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see The Head to Heart Guide for Accepted in the Beloved and 'work out' with exercises, discussion questions, review of main points, digging deeper, more scriptures, model prayers, renunciations/affirmations and practical steps of life application.
Or Keep Reading
[i] Hebrews 13:15
[ii] John 8:32 1 Peter 5:8; Genesis 3:1: a lion seeking to devour and a serpent bringing accusations. Teaching and insights about these five components of rejection from Be In Health® teaching and materials, Dr. Henry W. Wright, Thomaston, Georgia, seminar notes, October 2000.
[v] Mark 12:30
[vi] Romans 16:25: the gospel of grace is what 'grounds' us, establishing our hearts.
[vii] 2 Corinthians 5:19
[viii] 2 Corinthians 5:7
[ix] Teaching and insights about these four coping strategies from Be In Health® teaching and materials, Dr. Henry W. Wright, Thomaston, Georgia, seminar notes, October 2000.
[x] Colossians 3:3
[xi] Psalm 139:14-15
[xii] Isaiah 53:3
[xiii] 2 Corinthians 5:21
[xiv] Hebrews 4:15
[xv] Matthew 27:46
[xvi] Hebrews 13:5
[xvii] 2 Corinthians 1:20