Anyone who has lived and loved has probably felt the heartache of a love that was not returned. The truth is, if we pour ourselves out in love we risk rejection. So, how do we recover from the pain and how do we best help others who are hurting? One thing I know for sure, the wound of rejection is not something you just "get over" without going through a process.
Consider this question: Who didn’t love you?
Did a name immediately come to your mind? More than one?
Me too. Each of us has suffered rejection at some point. Rejection comes in many forms but its sting always cuts to the heart. Rejection hurts and the closer the relationship the deeper the wound!
My story of rejection concerns my daughter, my precious child. Twenty years ago, our family longed for a third child. We had a daughter and a son, but we just didn’t feel that our family was complete. Circumstances led us to the joy of adoption. We still say that our very best vacation was the overnight trip across the state to receive our precious baby girl. She was a blessed gift from God and we loved her beyond measure. One of our favorite books was Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. Those words were precious; we knew that God had made us a forever family.
But as a young teen, my youngest daughter began testing us and eventually her behavior turned to defiance and rebellion. It was painful to watch her make so many self-destructive choices, but the blow of her complete rejection was devastating. The day before she ran away from home, she said, “I know that I am supposed to love you, but I just don’t think I do love you.” To which I replied after some thought, “That’s OK, because I have enough love for both of us.”
Rejection leaves an emptiness. Her rejection was more painful than anything I had imagined. It was made so much worse by the fact that the individuals who took her in and excused her behavior had been our dearest friends. We suddenly had an empty nest even though she still had more than a year of high school to complete. We also lost the two friends with whom we could have shared our grief. Our dreams had turned into a nightmare. It felt like our world had come to an end. I had no reference for this feeling. I entered into a deep depression and repeated over and over again, “I don’t know what to do.”
It can be tempting to fill the emptiness with anger or self-pity. Although grieving is very appropriate and even necessary, anger is supposed to be a stage of grief, not a terminal destination. Sometimes it seems like the answer is to build walls of protection around our hearts to prevent our ever getting hurt again. But walls do not protect, they isolate.
Jesus understands rejection. I found it comforting that Jesus not only knew about rejection, but also experienced the pain of it.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind."
- In Luke 14:25 we know that Jesus was "rejected by the people of his day" (GW).
- Isaiah 53:3 tells us that “He was despised and rejected by men.”
- John writes in chapter 1:11 of his Gospel: “He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.” (NKJV)
Our precious Savior knows what it is like to be rejected in every way: by the masses, by individuals, and even "friends." Jesus understands the pain of rejection, and he has the answer for healing. 1 Peter 2:4 says, “You are coming to Christ, the living stone who was rejected by humans, but was chosen as precious by God.” Verse nine goes on to say, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” There is comfort in those words which remind us that we are chosen by God. He alone is almighty and capable of not only healing our wounds but working them out for our good and his glory.
1 Corinthians 13:8 says that his “love never fails.” The Greek word used here for fails literally means to fall off, like a petal falling off a flower. So, this verse is saying that God’s love holds its place! Our Heavenly Father loves us and his love will never fall to the ground. He has proven that through the precious gift of salvation given in Jesus. Our Father not only loves us, but smiles over the love we extend to others. Our Savior demonstrates his love by his nail-scarred hands. He will never reject us. His arms are always welcoming. He was rejected for us, so we, his children, might live in freedom from the fear of rejection.
We will always love our precious daughter, and pray daily to be able to receive her into our arms once again. Today, my healing is well underway. God has not rejected me and I know his love is true.
If rejection has been part of your journey, be encouraged that God does not ask you to do this alone. You can invite him into your circumstances and trust his Holy Spirit to guide and direct you.You can pray a prayer like this one:
Dear Father, Thank you that my circumstances are not hidden from you. Over and over again you tell me in your Word that you love me. I choose to believe that today. What I am facing seems to be more than I can bear. I need your strength to walk this path today. Thank you for your promise that you will always be with me, giving me everything I need to obey you by faith. Amen.