Ephesians 4: 2-3
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Romans 8: 14-17; 38-39 (The Message)
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!...
....None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
What is your earliest memory of rejection? Notice that I didn't ask: 'Have you ever been rejected?'. That's because we all have. One writer calls rejection "the universal malady." No one is immune or exempt from it. It might have been when you were "dumped" by your first love. It could have happened when you failed the school transfer test, while all your friends passed. Maybe you were turned down for a job you wanted so badly. Or a close friend betrayed you. Every human knows what it is like to feel rejection. It never feels good. It beings forth all our deepest insecurities because rejection shouts from the rooftops that we aren’t good enough. When we are rejected we can start to believe a whole range of lies about ourselves, about our self-worth such as:
- I’m not worth loving
- I’m not worth pursuing
- I’m not worth keeping
- I’m not worth noticing
- I’m not worth wanting
- I’m not worth fighting for
- I’m not worth employing
We end up thinking these thoughts over and over again until these lies become accepted as part of our identity. We use them to determine our sense of value in the world and then live according to how we see ourselves. That is why many women remain in abusive relationships - they don't believe they deserve anything or anyone better. That is why we remain silent at injustice - we don't believe we have power to make a difference or that anyone will listen to us. That is why teenagers engage in sexual behaviour, even when it makes them feel uncomfortable - they don't want to be rejected by the other party in the relationship or be the only one of their peer group not to have had certain experiences.
Rejection hurts. As Emily Bronte lamented in Wuthering Heights: “I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death; and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen, and since he has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him.” In fact, when we experience relational hurt we often use phrases like "She broke my heart," or "He hurt my feelings," or it was like getting "punched in the gut." One researcher set out to study the pain of social rejection. The most interesting conclusion was that, to the brain, social pain actually feels a lot like physical pain: "Looking at the [brain scans], side by side, without knowing which was an analysis of physical pain and which was an analysis of social pain, you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference." (M. Lieberman)
If we primarily get our sense of identity, security and confidence from what other people think about us, we will struggle deeply with the pain of rejection. It can cripple us. Tomorrow we will think about how it impacts our lives. But, for today, I want you to think about how you personally determine your true value and worth? Be really honest. What makes you feel good about yourself and what sends you into a tailspin of insecurity and self-doubt? When are you most confident? Who's opinion of you matters most? How do you typically respond to rejection? Has any past rejection impacted your present situation or behaviour?
Here's a few truths about our true identity from God's Word that you might want to meditate on today:
"I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God." (Isaiah 41:9-10)
"For my father and my mother have left me. But the Lord will take care of me." (Psalm 27: 10)
"For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own." (1 Samuel 12: 22)
"For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance." (Psalm 94: 14)
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." (Jeremiah 31: 3)