Dismissed. Disregarded. Cast aside. These experiences sideline us from life and rob us of peace in our relationships. Words cut. Actions pierce. They steal life from us, yet there’s hope. God’s peace can still reign in the middle of a battle raging in our hearts when we grab onto God’s hand.
Dismissed. Disregarded. Cast aside. These experiences sideline us from life and rob us of peace in our relationships. Words cut. Actions pierce. They steal life from us, yet there’s hope. God’s peace can still reign in the middle of a battle raging in our hearts when we grab onto God’s hand. It’s like the story of a little boy hanging onto a bigger boy’s hand as they raced to the cellar in the face of a tornado. The wind lifted the little boy into the air, but he gripped his cousin’s hand and made it to safety.
When rejection blows into our life, it’s like we’re racing a tornado to safety. The pain of disregard sends our hearts into a tailspin, and we can get caught in the damage it causes. Our hearts rage with anger and bitterness. We spend far too much time mulling the conversation over in our heads, examining what we said and what they said. Our heart turns against us, and we entertain thoughts that indicate we deserve what we got because we’re not likable, and we shouldn’t expect any other kind of outcome. Finally, we accuse God of not preventing this, and we demand he does something.
When we say yes to a personal relationship with God, he makes us new. It’s beautiful and wonderful, but at the same time, we still have old mindsets, habits, and default responses to the circumstances we encounter. Rejection strikes a destructive blow, and, in our pain, we reach for our old ways of responding to the heartache, which can lead to more destruction in our relationships with God, ourselves, and other people. Transformation takes time and a willingness to wade into the muddy waters of sifting the old patterns from the new way of thinking.
Into the Mud
Rejection is a three-pronged weapon that wounds three areas in our lives: our relationship with others, how we view ourselves, and our understanding of God. In our pain, we can wallow in the mud, splashing it all over others, or we can use it to create something. Like a potter who adds water to the clay to make mud to shape it into something beautiful, we can trust God to make something good out of something bad.
The Israelites spent centuries making mud bricks for the Egyptians. They knew years of slavery and felt abandoned by God. Their place of rescue during Joseph’s leadership in Egypt became their place of rejection. Joseph stood second to Pharoah, and God made a way to avoid the famine by guiding them to Egypt. But eventually, the new Pharaohs forgot about Joseph and viewed the Israelites as a threat, so they sought to enslave them. God did not forsake the Israelites, and he made a way for them to be free. Rejection can make us feel abandoned, but God promises never to leave us or forsake us. When we turn to God, we can count on him to make a way for us too.
Flip the Script
Our default response to rejection is to fixate on the external event, turn our negative thoughts toward ourselves, and finally point an accusing finger at God. A new way to deal with disregard and rejection is to start with God. Reframing rejection involves bringing all our pain to him and dumping every negative thought and emotion into his lap. We come to him unedited and honest. Then he helps us sift through the thoughts and feelings, redirecting us to let go of the things that need letting go. This is how he uses them to bring us to another level of spiritual maturity.
In Psalm 62:8, the Psalmist encourages us to express our hearts to God. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Our pain can pull us away from the very source of our comfort. When our hearts break, we can be tempted to gather the shards and carry them in our pockets, where they continue to cut us. But when we leave all the pieces at the feet of Jesus, he begins to put them back together again. We’re left with scars that tell a story of his gentle faithfulness.
These scars become filled with his grace. I broke a decorative plate, and instead of throwing it away, I superglued it back together. The plate resumed its circular shape as the larger pieces came together. The smaller pieces were a bit trickier and messier, but this plate became a symbol of how God works in our life. His grace fills the cracks, and his mercy glues the pieces together again. In rejection experiences, our perception of ourselves can shatter, and the lack of forgiveness toward others can keep us broken. However, when we begin with God, we receive the grace and mercy to forgive and to keep our identity in Christ intact.
Intern at Jesus’ Feet
When Pharoah finally told the Israelites to go, they walked away from Egypt dressed for battle. They were finally set free! Imagine the bravado they felt as they carried off Egypt’s gold and silver. Yet, God knew them better than they knew themselves. He did not take them to their freedom through the most direct route. They may have been dressed for battle—weapons in hand and armor on—but they didn’t have the warrior’s mindset. God had set them free, but he took them to freedom via the desert.
In our spiritual journeys, we face desert roads and impassable seas too. In our battles with consistent disregard and rejection, we can have all the equipment we need to fight the battles, like the Israelites, but not have the internal fortitude to face the battle. Interning at Jesus’ feet means we walk into the desert, trusting him with our hearts, including our pain over past disregard and the fear of future rejections—and practice faith, hope, and belief in what he says about us and accept his consistent presence.
Crossing Our Red Sea
Walking by faith starts with small steps toward God. We grow into our healing as we determine to let go of bitterness about past rejections along with the untruths we’ve believed for too long about God and how we perceive ourselves. Flipping the script on our default reactions to rejection is the first step we take. We can let rejection enslave us again, or we can fix our attention on the freedom in front of us.
The Lord can use rejection experiences to restore, redirect, and refine us. At times, he uses them to point our feet in a different direction. Even in pain, we can trust him to lead us onward into a new future. Other times, rejection reveals areas in our lives that need refinement. Our transformation involves the renewal of our minds by rejecting thought processes and attitudes that don’t line up with God’s Word. Restoration comes when we surrender our broken hearts to him. He puts us together again and infuses us with greater amounts of his mercy and grace.
The next time rejection shatters your life, pause before you respond. Take every broken piece to God, give him the ugly feelings and thoughts, and share your hurt and confusion with him. He will meet you in the mess and lead you to greater healing, trust, and freedom in him.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/interstid
Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.