Rejection and the fear of rejection play a major part in the development of the character of every human being.
Proverbs 15:13: "A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. One of the products of rejection is a broken spirit.
Proverbs 17:22: "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." A broken spirit, brought about by rejection is capable of "drying up," or taking away the desire for life.
Proverbs 18:14: The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear?" If the desire for life has gone, there is no chance for healing to take place.
The most powerful positive force in the universe is the love of God. 1 John 4:8, 16: "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love and the one who abides in love abides in God, God abides in him, and he in God. " God is love; therefore, love is God's most powerful force.
If love is the most powerful positive force in creation, it follows that lack of love is the most powerful negative force in creation.
Rejection is the denial of love and acceptance in our lives. It is probably the most painful, the most neglected, yet one of the most common emotional wounds from which we suffer.
Some of the forms of rejection are denial, refusal, and rebuff, slighting, shunning, spurning, ignoring, neglecting, avoiding and disapproving. It becomes obvious that rejection is not always physical. Nor is it always recognizable.
God designed us in such a way that we cannot function properly without love. Our survival in life depends upon it. It is the one ingredient each of us needs in order to grow, to flourish, and to become the people we need to be, to fulfill our destiny in life. Love is to us as water and sunshine is to a flower. It is essential to our growth. If we don't understand that each of us needs to be loved, we walk on dangerous ground. Because each of us needs it, we each desire it strongly. We need to be loved and accepted.
God created us to fellowship with Him, to worship Him, and to have a relationship with Him. Love is the primary ingredient in that relationship. Love is God's motive, and it should be our motive as well. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God's love is always evident. Whether we realize it or not, God loves us.
When we function in harmony with God, His love for us generates within us an ability to love one another. According to Jesus, the two greatest commandments are to love God, and to love one another. Love is the fuel that makes us function. It nourishes us and gives us meaning in life. Without love, we develop serious problems. When we are denied the love and attention we need, we experience internal affliction.
As we mature, especially as we grow spiritually, most of us can handle rejection better than we could when we were young children. We are similar to the palm tree in that respect. If we plant a small palm tree, it needs a lot of water, sun and fertilizer. It must have more attention while it is growing than after it has grown to maturity. Once it has grown, it can withstand the cold and the storms, but when it is young it cannot handle the abuse. We are pretty much the same.
Many of us today react out of the wounds of rejection we received early in our lives. We find that we still can't handle rejection. This is because we were wounded at an early age, and we have been reacting through those wounds ever since.
Emotional wounds are very painful. Nothing hurts quite like being rejected. When we are not accepted, when we are disapproved or shunned, we experience emotional pain. Once we have experienced rejection, we react by building walls. We begin to lead a life that guards against the possibility of being rejected again.
We can parallel our reaction to the way we react when we hurt ourselves physically. Everything we do revolves around that injury. For example, if we have a sprained ankle, everything we do revolves around that sprained ankle. We don't want to hurt it again and feel that pain once more. This form of self-protection is a natural reaction to any kind of physical injury.
Emotional wounds from rejection affect us the same way. Every response in every relationship revolves around our past emotional wounds in a way that protects us from experiencing the hurts again. The result is that, as a wounded person, we behave in a dysfunctional manner. We become unstable in our attitudes and out of harmony in all our relationships.
Most deep wounds of this type take place during our childhood. Children often misinterpret correction or lack of attention as rejection. It may not have been intended as rejection, but that doesn't matter. If that is how we perceived it, that is how we reacted to it.
Even today, many of us cannot distinguish between correction and rejection. We take correction as rejection, because that is the way we perceive it Whether or not rejection actually exists doesn't matter. What matters is that we think it does, and we react as if it is rejection.
We are wounded by what is said, even though it may be constructive criticism. We may find ourselves to be particularly sensitive in a rehabilitation program. As someone corrects us, we may be devastated because we take it as rejection.
If we have accepted this wound of rejection into our lives it generates one of two things. The first is a fear of further rejection. Once we are wounded, we recoil at the prospect of being wounded again. For instance, if someone who is an authority figure in our lives has wounded us through rejection, our natural reaction is to fear authority and to guard ourselves when we are around authority figures.
For example, our incorrect concept of God almost always comes from the relationship we had with an authority figure in our lives, such as our father or our church. If we are not given the opportunity to break through that barrier, we will carry that wrong concept throughout our lives.
The fear of additional hurt causes us to put up defense mechanisms. We begin to ask, "Whom can I trust? Will the one who caused me to suffer in the past hurt me again? Will other persons also inflict wounds upon me?" We develop a distrust of everyone's motives.
The word for such feeling is paranoia. We feel that everyone is out to hurt us. We can't trust anyone. The root behind paranoia is the fear of rejection. It is the fear of not being accepted, not being a part, not being loved. The paranoid person lives in torment. Paranoia is active within the person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He always reacts based upon his paranoia.
The other path that occurs is self-rejection. After we have accepted rejection in our lives for an extended period of time, we begin to reject ourselves. We actually believe we are unworthy and unacceptable by others. We are convinced we don't fit in or measure up, that we are not a legitimate part of society. This belief causes us to reject ourselves. Very often this will manifest itself in our relationship with God.
Both the fear of rejection and self-rejection control our behavior. They always generate unhealthy fruit. Rejection is probably the most common and the most severe problem human beings face. Everyone who enters a rehabilitation program has experienced rejection in his life. Some have been wounded over and over again. This eventually produces self-rejection.
The more rejection we receive, the more rejected we feel, and the more apt we are to believe we deserve to be rejected. We begin to ask ourselves what it is about us that repels others. Rejection from a loved one will make us think we are unacceptable or unqualified or unworthy. We can handle being spurned by someone we don't know, but when we receive rejection from someone we love, the knife goes deep. This helps convince us we are unacceptable failures.
A situation of this type occurs often in father /son relationships. If we see ourselves as failures we try desperately to change. We try to become someone acceptable, someone other than who we really are. We think if we were different, or even if we were someone else, we would be loved and accepted.
After concluding that the key to enjoying acceptance by others is to become different from our actual selves, we seek to change our personality and become someone different, so we can have the love and acceptance we need. We may begin to pattern ourselves after a fantasy of our own mind.
We may try to pattern ourselves after someone we have read about in a book, or have seen on television. We will certainly pattern ourselves after someone whom we have observed as being loved by others. Through this process, we try to reconnect a broken relationship.
Without exception, everyone attempts to recover the peace, love, affirmation, confirmation and acceptance that were lost in a broken relationship.
Some characteristics of the fear of rejection are as follows:
We may be angry with ourselves, at other people, or at God. Anger always follows closely behind fear. We can become very dependent upon anger, because it becomes an excellent barrier to protect us from others
This is another defense mechanism that keeps people away.
About the situation or condition in which we were wounded. Anger, left unattended, will eventually generate a root of bitterness.
An outward expression caused by an inner feeling of rejection.
Before World War II, mothers stayed home with their children. During the war, the economy picked up and the standard of living improved. Eventually, the standard of living became much higher, with the addition of television sets and other material things. Then the economy softened. Families discovered that one person could not earn enough money to maintain the new standard of living.
Because of this, mothers left their homes to seek employment to help maintain the standard of living. As a result, the children came home from school to an empty house. This was unnatural to them, so they felt rejected. They felt they were not important. The parents did not intend this to be rejection, but many of the children took it that way.
Those who grew up under those circumstances reacted to the rejection. They became rebellious. Those were the days that spawned the hippie era. It became an age of rebellion. Then, out of that rebellious generation came a generation that became susceptible to addiction. The result is that today there are more single parent homes than in any other time in history.
There are more absentee fathers than any other time in history. The current generation is creating the same atmosphere, another generation that is being rejected. Parental rejection doesn't necessarily have anything to do with abuse. It primarily has to do with not being there when needed. In the case of parents, it is an example of misplaced priorities.
This is the source of most rebellion. Rebellion says, "Nobody loves me, so I'm going to do what I want to do, regardless! Other people don't care about me, so I don't care about other people!"
False religions come out of rejection. The hippies were a type of cult. They promoted peace, love, and sex. They had their own belief system. Most 4th world people are considered to be outcasts, so they have formed their own cults in order to be loved and accepted.
Today's new age movement, Satan worshippers, and all the other cults are able to recruit from this sea of dysfunctional people. These are hurting people who are looking for a place in life. They are looking for acceptance and love, and the cults fill that need. The cults draw them in and accept them, no questions asked.
A young teenager who has a wound of rejection is an easy target for an organization such as the Moonies. The Moonies accept hurting teenagers. They love and feed them, and the teenagers willingly become part of the organization. They are simply looking for a loving relationship.
That is also what happens in addiction. When the addict is unsuccessful in his attempt to reconnect to a loving relationship, he anesthetizes his pain. It becomes clear that when love is denied somebody, the door is open for Satan to step in.
True love repels anything ungodly. When a baby is born, Satan cannot attack it because the love and the covering of the parents protect it from anything ungodly. However, if the covering is not there, the baby will be exposed to satanic attack.
Spiritual covering is available to us through the love of the people with whom we have relationship, and through those who have spiritual authority over us. If we don't have that covering, and if we're looking for love and acceptance, we are subject to the influence of cults or anything else ungodly that might offer us acceptance.
There is a strong movement of cults around the world today. One of the main reasons they are gaining ground is the breakdown of the family. The father image has been removed: therefore, the stability is gone. Rejection is rampant. This forces the children to look to whatever source is available to receive love and acceptance.
When the fear of rejection has established a stronghold in a person, he learns to reject others before being rejected himself. Although he may not realize it, his thought is, "If I reject first, I won't get rejected." Unfortunately, that attitude generates an inability to receive love or to love others. And out of that attitude grows rebellion. His statement to the world becomes, "Before you get me, I will get you."
This is another product of rejection by others. We buy the lie that we are unworthy of acceptance by others; therefore we are unworthy of acceptance by ourselves. Self-rejection spawns other negative emotions.
There is pain inside us. Because we hurt, we feel that we have done everything wrong. We are to blame, and there is no place to turn to make the hurt go away.
This is the "poor little me" syndrome. We become very conscious of our inadequacies and the fact that no one seems to understand or care what is happening to us.
Another word for despair is hopelessness. When we have totally rejected ourselves, we can't see ourselves as capable of being loved by others. Through this attitude, we lead ourselves into a hopeless state of mind.
When we have rejected ourselves, we will always have a spirit of depression about us. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that we are useless. Depression becomes a very thick wall around us that doesn't come down easily.
This becomes our next move. Because we feel hopeless, it seems logical to us to withdraw from society. Society will never miss us because we have nothing to contribute to it.
If no one else cares, why should we? Suicide becomes the ultimate withdrawal. We are so desperate; we develop an underlying death wish. What we don't realize is that suicide is the ultimate ego trip. We are totally "turned in" at this point, our total attention is on self. We have become our own god, even to the point of making the ultimate decision in our lives, our time of death.
As we observe the two paths of rejection, we can see the expression of two distinct personalities reacting in different ways as they are exposed to rejection. One personality is mostly aggressive, while the other is mostly passive. It is not unusual for us to move from one path to the other.
We may display characteristics from both sides at different times. But one side will eventually emerge to be more dominant than the other.
It is possible for us to become very critical or very judgmental when we have experienced rejection. That is one of the ways we deal with the fear of rejection. We put other people down, and we become very critical.
The pathway of the fear of rejection is always aggressive. Anger and resentment dominate us. We become aggressively active. On this path, we are more prone to overdose or to be killed in an automobile accident.
On the other hand, the pathway of self-rejection displays a personality that is generally beat down. On this path we are more prone to suicide. There is always hope for those who are on either pathway, and neither pathway is worse than the other.
As we study inner healing, we are always drawn back to God's word and our need to understand our relationship with Him. God is love. That means He loves us. People whom we love may have hurt us, and we may have experienced broken bridges, breaks in our relationships that have devastated us. But we have God, and God tells us He wants us to bring our hurts to Him.
Understanding these situations in our lives helps us to recognize our need for healing and wholeness. But inner healing is beyond our capability, there is no way we can heal ourselves. Only God can heal us permanently. Once we realize this, our next step is to look at our responsibility in this matter.
As we reach this point, it is time to ask ourselves who has felt rejection more than anyone else in the world? We don't have to look any further than Jesus Christ. He has felt what we have felt, and undoubtedly much more.
Now let's think logically. If we suddenly were confronted with a big problem, whom should we look to for help with it? Naturally, we would look to somebody who had been through a similar problem. Jesus Christ has certainly been through rejection, because He experienced the ultimate rejection.
To get Jesus involved in our hurts and wounds, we need to get in touch with those hurts and wounds. We need to take a bold look at what we have experienced through rejection. This brings us to the grieving process. We are not to become preoccupied with behavioral changes. We want to look at the losses in our lives, the loss of love, the deep cuts, and the wounds of rejection.
Our lives have been orchestrated and directed by our reactions to those wounds we have received. We need healing in those wounded areas, those specific events in our lives in which we received rejection. We need healing whether the wounds were inflicted intentionally or not. The process, in which we get healing from rejection, is to say, "Lord, this specific incident I have written down still hurts me. I am hurting, Lord. I need Your help. I give this to you right now. Please take it from me."
HOMEWORK: Take one incident of rejection in your life, and write down the details. Share it with another brother, and ask the Lord to help you with that wound of rejection. Ask Him to show you the fruit of that wound. Let Him show you what has come out of the wound, what your reaction has been and how it has affected your life and the lives around you.
Personal And Group Exercise (see page 108)
1. Why do emotional wounds we received as children continue to affect us today?
2. Why is self-rejection so destructive?
3. Why do we try to act like someone other than who we really are?
4. What generates rejection even more than physical abuse?
5. Why are cults so successful today?
6. Why is it important for us to take a bold look at what we have experienced through rejection?
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