Originally published Tuesday, 06 November 2012.
“You’re not as pretty as these girls. No one cares what you write. No one wants to hang out with you this weekend! Why did you even come? Just give up.”
All of the old crackling cassette tapes of insecurity played in my head last week as I stepped out of the elevator. I’d left my family behind, invested time and money, and flown across the country to attend this blogging conference. Instead of learning more about writing, I’d be learning more about fear and insecurity.
Before you jump to the comment section to encourage me, please don’t. I don’t want your sympathy and I’m not writing to fish for accolades. Don’t pity my insecurity, God is purposing it.
I spent the better part of the weekend feeling like a nervous high school freshman on the first day of school. At each meal I’d wonder who to sit next to and if I was burdening whoever I’d chosen. I worried my roommates regretted rooming with me. I painted myself the odd-girl-out, and no amount of praying eased my anxiousness.
I tried confessing my need for approval, asking the Lord’s forgiveness. I tried focusing on others, looking to love and serve others. Still fear controlled me.
Battling rejection embarrasses me. It is needy and weak and it feels faithless. Jesus is my strength in weakness, so what can I learn from this particular area?
My need for acceptance is a matter of idolatry. I want to be loved and welcomed everywhere. When I’m not, I dramatize my rejection, villainize the rejector, and turn way too quickly to doom and gloom or woe-is-me.
God never promised the world would love me. He promised me quite the opposite. And, Christ bore more rejection than any one of us will ever know.
God wants my worship, not my popularity.
When I am caught up in matters of my own popularity, I am unable to worship God. I am too consumed with myself. Instead of mourning over my lack of in-ness with people, I should ask God what my own issue with rejection reveals about my worship.
The desire to worship the Lord is born from pondering what Jared Wilson calls the “Gospel Deeps.” When I am thankful for the boundless mysteries of the gospel, worship for the one true God will usurp self-obsession, obliterating the need for popularity.
I can thank God for feelings of rejection.
When I feel rejected, I can consider how Christ responded to rejection.
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” -Isaiah 53:7-8
When Christ was condemned and unjustly accused, he didn’t fight to be considered worthy. He bowed to the will of God and was broken, bruised, and cast aside. He trusted his father and had no urgency to defend his innocence.
God allows me to taste the bitterness of rejection as an act of grace. Through affliction I join Christ in the fellowship of suffering. I identify with his pain to thank Him for His sacrifice. Familiarity with rejection is a gift that binds me to Jesus.
I can rest in eternal acceptance.
He is enough for my anxieties and enough for my feelings of rejection. He took away the only rejection threatening my soul. Grasping the reality of an eternal acceptance frees me from the need for temporal acceptance.
If God isn’t relieving my feelings of insecurity, maybe he’s giving them to me for the strengthening of my faith: to know His goodness in my smallness, his fame in my insignificance, and my fellowship with him in rejection. Praise be to God, for while we were (insecure), Christ died for us, bearing the pain of rejection while the father turned his face away.
What if we were a people who looked away from the need for acceptance and approval? What if we longed for God’s will; his call to repentance, his sanctifying work conforming us to the image of his son? What if we spent more time begging for God’s glory than we did for our own?
The sufferings of this world, and in a blogging conference, are nothing compared to the glories of calvary. Deny the temptation to flee feelings of rejection. Instead allow them to remind you to worship Him for his kind act of obedience that secured your ultimate acceptance.