Friday, November 12, 2010

Return to Sender

I've been feeling the need to write about something near and dear to my heart, and until today I haven't had the words formed in coherent sentences enough to actually put pen to paper. I pretty much put pencil to paper in this case. It took me all of 15 minutes to finally write scribble it out this morning, and now I feel led to share it here. I sure hope I can read my own handwriting. Over the past few months I've been going through some pretty ugly stuff while uncovering layer upon layer of the hurts that have been buried deep in my soul. I am chipping away at the hard shell that has surrounded my heart, and in doing so, I'm finding that some of what I have inside that tough exterior, needs to get outside in order to soften my insides and make me the person God desires me to be.

On the subject of rejection and love...*

God's greatest command can be summed up into one word: Love.
That one word has big meaning - for sure, the word itself has a variety of different meanings and connotations in our culture, but for this exercise let's say God says AGAPE. 
Among other things: Love one another. Love the unlovely. Love the unloveable. Love your enemies. 
He doesn't say love your tacos, love your shoes, love your car or love your pizza toppings. (I'm pretty sure I DO love my pizza toppings, but whatever)

The problem with love, is that love always means risking rejection. The only thing we need to create rejection, is to have relationships with others. Rejection can be one of the most painful forms of injury to another human being. It can wound deeper and last much longer than any other type of wound I could imagine. I do know this from first hand experience. As a daughter, as an ex-girlfriend, as an ex-wife, as a former employee, as a past student, and a MOTHER, I'm sure someone somewhere can relate to the type of feeling that you used to be something that now you're not. And in the case of daughter or mother, just mention the word "criticize, ignore, or feel judged" and pretty much anyone can relate to the kinds of rejection that play out in those particular relationships.

Rejection causes us to do things we might never have considered doing before. This comes from that empty feeling that rejection causes in our hearts. Meaningless relationships, bouncing around from one addiction to another, hurting others because we ourselves hurt, the list goes on. Strong's Concordance includes the word "vacant" in the Hebrew definition of "rejected". We become open to attempting to repair our hurt with often disastrous results. We set ourselves up for failure in the name of recovering from rejection by our own means. This is how the enemy overcomes us, by destroying us with fear. 

You can't begin to believe some of the things I've done to fill the vacancy that rejection has left in my heart. Thankfully God has allowed many doors to be slammed in my face in order to reveal His plans and His glory in my life. He has allowed rejection in parts of my life in order for me to be open to reconciliation! I would have no concept of what the value of unfailing love felt like if I had never endured the failed love and failed relationships in my past. God knew what was best for me all along, but it has taken many years to see some of those things come full circle... and I'm pretty sure I'm not even all the way around that circle yet. 

The really unfortunate thing about rejection is that it causes a change in our vision. Sometimes that change can be permanent if we don't allow God to do the healing inside us. Once we become hurt in this terrible way, it's possible that our ability to enjoy and build new relationships can become very clouded. We see new people, new friendships, new love interests with a sort of suspicion. It can be quite innocent, and most of the time we rarely even know that we're behaving this way, but it shows up in our relationships in mostly negative ways as time progresses. We constantly wonder who is going to hurt us next, so we don't ever quite put ourselves all the way out there, or open up completely to those we expect to open up to us. In return, we are now the ones doing the rejecting, by withholding part of ourselves, and people we relate to can feel it. It becomes a vicious cycle. Eventually this method of self-protecting becomes like second nature, and it appears that everyone else has a problem. The rejection continues, the feelings are justified, and it simply escalates.

How have you ever been rejected in your past? Have you given your heart fully to someone, only to have that door slam right in your face? Have you trusted that one good friend to stick with you through thick and thin only to get stuck with the feeling that you're not good enough? Have you tried to please someone you loved with all your heart only to hear things like, "I don't care", or "You didn't do it right" or "I could do better"? 
Are you not pretty enough? 
Are you too thin?
Are you too fat?
Are you not talented enough? 
Have you been thrown away, discarded, passed over or kicked to the curb? 
Are you defective

Friends, I'm here to tell you that rejection, and all the hurt and pain that come from it, are NOT FROM GOD. God does not make rejects. He does not make defects. He is LOVE. He loves you and He made you just the way you are for a purpose. God commands us to love, but in reality He does allow those doors to close on us so that we may come to know His true, never-ending, unfailing love. He is sovereign. If He lets it happen, then there will be something good that will come of it. You can be sure! In this I also have first hand experience!

We must allow God to clear away the fog of mistrust, the feelings of fear, the crippling effects that rejection leaves us with. If we allow Him to take the pain that so heavily bogs down our hearts and minds, he will show you a better way to love others. 

Rejection can change the outlook of every single relationship we ever attempt to get involved with if we are dragging around this load of baggage from our past failures. Satan desires nothing more than for us to destroy ourselves, and this is how he goes about his plan. He has a will for us, and simply put, it is for us to live in constant fear. 

Let's begin to look at this with clearer vision. We love others because Christ loved us first. He didn't wait for us to accept him - HE took the first step. Guess what happened? He was rejected by his own. No, I didn't say his enemies rejected him, we already knew that, but his own people rejected him. This happens to us too. Jesus Christ was also rejected by you, and by me. How painful that must be for Him. 

If we begin to love others as God has instructed us to do - to love selflessly, without letting anything else get in the way like fear, mistrust, and pride, then the only thing people can reject is God IN us. And that, my friends, is for God to take into account. Let me say it again, It's not YOU that others may reject, it is God IN you. 

We'll be known as Christ's disciples by our love towards one another. Being rejected for that is very much an occasion to rejoice. 

1 John 3:20 states that God is greater than our hearts. How cool is that? Our big ol' sappy, sorry hearts. Sometimes they feel like they are carrying the weight of the world, but that's nothing compared to our God. He is so much bigger than our hearts. What a wonderful thought! Even the most devastating, most painful, most terrible rejection we could ever face - is covered completely by the love of our Heavenly Father. He is greater than our hearts. 

Loving others is a choice to obey. Living in fear of rejection is a choice to turn away from the gifts our Lord has given to us. It's the opposite of doing the will of God. Give your pain over to the Father, allow Him to heal you, to wash away your sad feelings and to change the pictures of the past into the new story of your future. 

Love never fails.

*Many of these thoughts were gained through the series I'm studying through by Beth Moore: Living Beyond Yourself. I highly recommend it if you have an extra seven to twelve hours a week you're willing to specifically devote to working through where the scriptures and text may lead you.


Beth E. said...

This is an awesome post, Alexis! I've definitely had my fair share of feeling rejected. I dealt with an inferiority complex most of my life, only recently allowing myself to LOVE myself just as I am.

Resting in the knowledge that God loves me, no matter what!


rinkjustice said...

I designed a game called Rejection Therapy back in 2009 to encourage myself to get out of my comfort zone more. It was amazingly effective and enlightening (for as long as I did it).

If anyone wants to try it, it's here:

purplemoose said...

Yes, oh yes. . . very good post, i don't know where to start. The expansion of defining "rejection" to include "criticize, ignore, or feel judged" is great. . . and does leave one feeling vacant!! profound.