“Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me.” ~Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited
Have you ever been rejected because you wanted something different for your life? You dared to give voice to the inward desires of your heart despite the fears and uncertainty ahead. All you needed was an affirming nod or a thoughtful question to show that you were heard. Instead of validation and encouragement, you were dismissed, ignored, or told you were being unrealistic. It feels like a punch in the gut, opens wide your insecurities and you begin to second guess yourself.
Sounds familiar? You are not alone.
When we begin to articulate our inmost longings and set our sights on our “new normal” it can make people uncomfortable. It is most challenging for those who are connected to us within a system or network such as our family, close group of friends, co-workers, or even our church.
Why do they choose to reject us? Honestly, it is hard to know. Rarely is it because your vision of life is inherently wrong or will be harmful to you. In most cases, people have a hard time separating your desires with what they want for their own life because they are emotionally enmeshed and entangled to the point that they confuse the two. Sometimes it is because they can’t see how things will function in this new reality. Rather than spending time and energy trying to figure it out, they will try to get us to conform to the status quo and stay put. You’ll hear them offer suggestions, reasons, and rationalizations for keeping things “as is” and fix you so you’ll abandon this crazy notion you have of living radically different.
Regardless of their reasons and motives…the truth is…it is hard to live into our new normal when we feel rejected. Here are 3 tips to help you as you deal with rejection and keep your own soul healthy.
*Don’t take it personally. You may be thinking, “How am I supposed to do that? How is rejection not personal?” Here’s the thing, as I said earlier, “taking it personally” is usually what others are doing when they reject you for wanting something different for your life. We live in a culture where people are threatened by who others are and what they need and want in life. Although your heart’s desires are just that…yours…many people don’t know how to self-differentiate themselves and therefore see you rejecting what they hold dear…the things they themselves pursue, accept, and strive for. Their rejection of you can be a knee-jerk reaction to defend their own values and preferences.
*Don’t return insult for injury. Rejection is painful and can cut deep. Our instinct is to lash out…strike back…retaliate. That is understandable! Rejection can rattle the very identity you’ve discovered. It can poke holes into your values and threaten to silence the voice God has given you. And when we are silenced, we feel the hurt all over again. It’s a vicious cycle. But you hurting others will not heal the pain of rejection. There is no win when we choose to take this road. If you’re able, let the person know that what they did or said was hurtful. That’s a hard conversation to have but extremely healthy. If that is not possible, tell a trusted friend so they hear you and help you process.
*Don’t give up. It is wise to listen to feedback given to us by people we trust who love us and love Jesus. There are times when we can misconstrue good counsel or questions for rejection. Don’t mistake one for the other. Listen and discern. But if you perceive God is still leading you in this new direction…keep going. Don’t let this derail you. Use the voice God has given you and boldly live radically different.
I know rejection is hurtful. It is hard when you open up about the important things in life and your hopes and dreams are discounted, especially by those with whom you have a deep connection. But rejection does not have to have the last word. Do not let it steal the best of who you are and keep you from being your true self. Don’t take it personally…don’t return insult for injury…and don’t give up. Keep your eyes on Jesus and walk the path that He has set out for you.