Whether it’s not getting the job, not getting the guy or girl, or even just getting left on read, rejection occurs in everyday life in a myriad of ways. But what do you do when your whole life seems like nothing but rejection after rejection? That’s how this past year of my life had felt. I had been going through all of the above and then some with seemingly no end in sight, and it had begun to take a toll on me mentally and spiritually. I would go to church and hear of God’s love and acceptance, but all I could see and feel in front of me was nothing but rejection. How could I accept being accepted by God when all I felt was rejection?
I asked myself this question over and over, Sunday after Sunday, when a revelation finally dawned me: actively accepting acceptance means to actively reject rejection.
I’d attend church and think that beautifully worded sermons would simply cause me to feel the acceptance God was offering, but nothing about my relationship with God happens passively. I had to take action.
I began to look at what rejection does to me, how I’ve been processing it, and what truth-based processes I needed to apply to start rejecting the rejection I had taken on. I saw all the ways rejection had seeped into my psyche and affected – more like infected – how I thought of myself, my circumstances, and God. I then had to seek out truths that directly opposed that thinking and impose righteous thinking. My journey showed me 5 ways to reject rejection.
1. Remember that the feeling of rejection passes.
There had come a point during this past year where I felt like this season of rejection was just going to be my life. That nothing would ever change for me and it was never going to get better. (A bit melodramatic, I know. But genuine nonetheless.)
In seeking out truths, I was reminded of all the times God tells us through His word how no hardship and no storm is ever permanent. Psalm 30:11 says it this way, “You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy.”
I realized the duration of me feeling rejected came mainly from not surrendering ALL my feelings to God in the first place. I had to allow Him to change my sadness. I had to surrender my sorrow so that He could then surround me with joy.
I had to consider what James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I wanted so much for this difficult season of rejection to be over and had never considered what God may be trying to develop in me during this time specifically.
Not only do hard times eventually pass, but in the midst of them God could be wanting to do something very intentional.
Then I remembered 1 Thessalonians 5:16 which simply says, “Rejoice always.” Regardless of how long this time was going to last, I have been encouraged to “Rejoice always” and by doing so and not focusing on how long it seems to take this season to pass, it may just pass that much faster.
2. Know that ‘Reject’ isn’t your identity.
Another thing that occurred to me when dealing with how rejection had affected me, was that I began to realize that in going through rejection I had taken on the identity of ‘Reject’. Just because rejection is what I was going through doesn’t make it who I am. Instead, I had to look at Ephesians 2:10 to remind myself of who I really am, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
To be God’s handiwork means to be molded and shaped by Him to fulfill His intent. Taking on rejection to the point of having it be something I identified as, has no place in the handiwork of God or His purposes. I had to do something new, which led me to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.” The old me had accepted rejection and the identity as a Reject, but I had to remember that I have been made new, and to walk in that newness of which Reject had no part.
How was I to do this? Colossians 3:1-3 says it best, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
3. Focus on the fact that God accepts you and will never reject you; God’s acceptance of you outweighs any rejection.
I found that so much of my focus had been on the rejection itself that it was difficult for me to see just how much God’s acceptance of me was wanting to push through it all. John 6:37 reveals His heart very clearly, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” I may have felt driven away by employers or guys or friends, but the comfort in knowing that I will never experience that with Jesus heals every hurt and solidifies my trust in Him.
It’s in Ephesians 1:3-6 that I really see the richness of what being accepted by God looks like: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Blessings, sonship, gifts, grace — all these things speak to what it means when God accepts you. Why then, be overly concerned with rejection from anyone when to be accepted by God means what it does? In turn, when I can recognize that, it allows me to do what Romans 15:7 talks about: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Not only can I now accept others, I can see how others accept me as well, which leads me to my next point.
4. Don’t diminish how you’re accepted by others.
Being so focused on how I was rejected and who rejected me, clouds my view of how God accepts me. Even further I realized, it also clouds my view of the people in my life who do accept me. There are people in my life – and in yours too – who do exactly what Hebrews 10:24-25 talks about when it says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”
Faces of those close to me are whom I think of when I read Proverbs 13:20 or Proverbs 17:17, that help or inspire me to be better and some who have shown just how much love and loyalty they have for me. Focusing all my attention on the hurt and pain that some offered hinders me from seeing all the beauty and love that others offer. I had to start choosing to focus on the latter.
5. Consider that even Jesus was rejected.
Lastly, and probably the most important point of all is that to be rejected is to be in good company. Jesus Himself was rejected! John 1:11 says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” Standing beaten to the point of being unrecognizable and innocent, Luke 23:18 says of Jesus, “But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” Over and over again, Jesus was rejected, and yet Psalm 118:22 prophesies this: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
Jesus was able to reject rejection so well by knowing that the feeling of rejection is temporary, by knowing who He truly was as the Son of God, and by trusting in His Father’s acceptance and the acceptance of His followers.
He leaves us with an example on how to best deal with rejection by going through rejection himself.
The words of Francis Chan called out to me as I came to the end of my journey to reject rejection: “Don’t fall into the trap of studying the Bible without doing what it says.” I found all this truth on how to reject rejection from God’s word, now I – we – must go forth carrying it out, every day. How? In taking off rejection, we must put something on. The Breastplate of Righteous.
Terrell Eggers illuminates the purpose of the Breastplate of Righteousness – “So, when I can reject accusation that I’m a ‘whatever’ because of what I’ve done based on the fact that I am righteous in Jesus, because of the work of Jesus, not because of my own work, now when [rejection] comes, it doesn’t land in me…So a lot of people, if they feel guilty [of allowing rejection to take precedence over acceptance from Him], what they automatically assume is that they need to go and ask for forgiveness. If that’s the first time you felt guilty for that thing, go, tell your Father that you repent and that you are receiving the forgiveness of Jesus. Then the next time that you feel guilty for that thing, tell that thing that you have chosen to believe that you are already forgiven. That’s the Breastplate of Righteousness.”
Put it on!