The Sting of Rejection
Maybe it was the time I walked into the kindergarten playhouse, excited about joining the tea party with the other five-year-old girls, and I was abruptly, unexpectedly shoved out and not allowed back in.
Maybe it was the time I was the only kid on my street not invited to a neighbor girl's birthday gala … and I found out.
Or maybe it was the time my best friend, Becky, decided she was tired of me and chose Gwen as her new BFF—and the two of them sauntered down the street in front of my house so I'd get the message. To this day, I still remember peering out that window, sobbing. But time after time, for some unknown reason, I experienced the sting of rejection. As I grew older, not only did I expect rejection, I began reading it into the actions and expressions of others. I told myself I was essentially unlikable and helplessly flawed. Perceived rejections only confirmed that conviction.
Thankfully, I also experienced evidences of self-worth—in the comfort of my mother, in the warmth of my nurturing grandmother, in the encouragement of an English teacher who praised my writing talents, and most importantly, in the love of Christ.
Yet becoming a believer at 15 didn't immediately rewire my faulty emotional circuitry. In my head I knew children can be cruel, oversights happen, people disappoint, not everyone will love—or even like—me.But my heart had trouble connecting to that knowledge. Feeling rejected became a default mode in times of stress or loneliness, triggering feelings of depression whenever my "circuits" felt overloaded.
Through the healing that comes from the distance of years, the confidence of age, and the grace that's never let me go, I've changed from the young girl who watched out a window as her best friend betrayed her to someone who longs for connection but is stronger in facing the changing dynamics of friendship. Sure, at times I'm still wary of being rejected—like when I'm the newbie in a women's group or make an overture of friendship to someone I'm getting to know—and I probably always will. Yet this lingering apprehension gifts me with sensitivity to other hurting souls.
And I know Christ patiently continues to wire me, soldering my emotions to his truth. Through this process, my self-talk is slowly changing. I see ever more clearly that how I talk about myself to myself matters—to God, to me.
That's why I've been reading Jennifer Rothschild's new book, Self-Talk/Soul-Talk: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself (Harvest House), with great interest. Jennifer, a talented recording artist, speaker, and Christian author, was on TCW's May/June 2007 cover. Blind since age 15, Jennifer is no stranger to insecurities, fears, and negative self-talk—and I love her honesty in acknowledging them. But in this helpful book she offers women some ways to fill their soul with positive truths and a biblically grounded inner dialogue.
So whenever I start berating myself for my failings and flaws and foibles, or when I see rejection (whether real or imagined) around the corner, I tell myself that …
… The kindergartener pushed out of a playhouse will be welcomed into heaven.
… The child omitted from the guest list of a neighborhood party has her name written in the Book of Life.
… The young woman betrayed by her friends will never be dropped for someone else by Jesus Christ.
The reality is, I am hopelessly flawed (because of sin). And I'll never be immune to rejection, because Jesus himself was rejected by men. But whenever this middle-aged woman, who struggles with the wounds of life in her faith walk, feels the loneliness of rejection, I'll remind myself I'm never alone. Nothing—no, nothing—can separate me from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39). And I can say that with confidence.
Copyright © 2010 by the author or Christianity Today/Kyria.com.
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The Sting of Rejection
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