In my early teenage years, I felt the sting of my father’s absence for the first time. After the divorce of my parents, many unanswered questions haunted my young mind.
Why would someone choose to leave their family? Was it something we did? Were we not good enough? Could I have done something to stop it? The questions played endlessly on loop.
Fathers play such an influential role in shaping the confidence of their children as they step into the future. But this was not my experience. I grew up confused, uncertain about my future, and questioned everything.
Though as I think about it now, I am not sure getting the answers to my questions would have filled the gaping hole in my chest. The questions were pain killers I was using to make the hurt disappear.
Even after twenty-five years, as a wife and a mother of three beautiful children, I still long to find acceptance from my father as his beloved child and to have a place of belonging in his world.
Here are some things I have learned about confronting rejection with hope.
Rejection is Quite Traumatic
Some of us deal with rejection by minimising or ignoring the pain of rejection. We compare it to worst-case scenarios. However, many of us carry scars that are difficult to erase.
Some of us replay the narrative and settle on some conclusion that may have brought some short-lived closure. We certainly do not like revisiting the pain or reliving memories to accept this as part of our story.
The closer the relationship, the deeper the wound.
Sitting in sadness, even for a short period, is uncomfortable or unbearable. Those open wounds can send one’s heart into a perplexing tailspin of anger, deep sorrow, and shame.
Rejection is a Fact of Life
All of us have or will encounter rejection. Some of us may feel it when a friend or family member makes a piercing remark, like “I don’t need you. You’re a disgrace to our family.”
We seek out people or things to give us acceptance and validation.
Maybe you have never been rejected by words. Instead, you felt left out from friend circles or social gatherings. Some of us experienced the neglect of caregivers or “the silent treatment” from loved ones.
No matter how you have experienced rejection, it hurts deeply. The closer the relationship, the deeper the wound.
Rejection Accompanies Unfulfilled Longings
When we face rejection from a loved one, we go out searching for healing. Our unmet longings for approval will direct our search for someone or something to fill the void and numb the pain.
We seek out people or things to give us acceptance and validation. Often, more than hoping our circumstances change, we want to feel the presence of someone in the hurt with us.
Rejection hurts because it is ultimately the result of sin in a broken world. We reject one another because we first rejected God.
When Adam and Eve rejected God, sin entered his perfect world like an unwelcome intruder.
But God responded by sending his Son, the Lord Jesus, who graciously moved toward those who rejected him. In Christ, our heavenly Father loves and accepts us completely.
Ultimately, this is the great hope for all who have felt the sting of rejection. We love because he first loved us.
Rejection Needs Processing
Rejection feels like being tossed by the waves. But God gives us the power to process our rejection in light of the gospel so he can redeem it. Here are three promises to hold on to as we process our rejection.
- Our heavenly Father fully accepts us.
- We belong to his family, the church.
- We are secure in him and will never be abandoned.
God decided in advance to adopt us into his family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great delight to do it (Eph. 1:5).
We are adopted into God’s spiritual family as members and you belong in God’s household with every other member (Eph. 2:19).
Your story is not just for you. Your story of rejection can be redeemed to serve the people around you.
As God declares through the prophet Isaiah, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isa. 43:1-3).
Rejection Teaches Us Something
Your story is not just for you. Your story of rejection can be redeemed to serve the people around you. The Lord uses our bitter life experiences to beautifully shape all of us into the likeness of his Son.
As I share my journey with others, I feel less lonely. When we exchange stories about how our merciful Father works in our life, the community around us is being spiritually formed, and we grow together.
When I reflected on the messiness of my story, I found more grief and hope than I ever thought possible. However, as I turned to his promises, I also started to experience the comfort of God more than I could ever imagine.
Rejection Leads Us to Someone
The liminal space between rejection and reception is where we experience healing and growth. We begin to step into the invitation of God’s grace to come to Christ and find rest (Matt. 11:28-30).
Sometimes stepping into our aching stories of rejection is the only way to experience the healing power of God’s unmerited approval in Christ.
Grieving your story of rejection is necessary to learn to fellowship with Christ, the Man of Sorrows. In Christ, we have a God who mourns with those who mourn.
“Jesus wept”, the shortest verse in the Bible is a powerful testimony to a Saviour who is willing to step into our grief with us.
When the world around you feels like it is falling apart, you can accept God’s invitation to lament. The promise of comfort is for those who are grieving. The healing power of God’s approval in Christ is most precious to those who have felt most rejected.