Chasing Rejection

uninvited

On my way home from a holiday cookout I helped host, my thoughts turn to rejection. I swear I’m passing more parties than usual. Home after home includes family and friends gathered around bonfires, pig roasts, and cornhole. The Amish (who, to my knowledge, don’t even observe our federal holiday) even had more company than I could round up. While I treasured time spent with the few who attended my party, overall turnout had been low. Fail (again). Nearly everyone had somewhere else to go and something else to do, which seemed to be the story of my life almost every time I extended an invitation.

For a few seconds, I tried to throw my resentment onto God. You just don’t want me to have friends, I thought for the bazillionth time. Then I tried to pass my rejection off onto the people at the parties. It’s because I don’t have kids. Kids motivate people to gather. They attract people to one another. And probably because I don’t drink beer. Half of those people probably don’t even like each other. They’re probably just bored in a small town.

Really Tami? said the Voice of reason.

Alright, then. No one ever shows because my only true friends have fur and whiskers.

You know that’s not it. 

Then I’m just off-putting. No one likes me enough to spend more than an hour with me. What is it?! I constantly rack my brain over it. If there’s something I can improve upon, I will. It’s probably my strength. People don’t like that. If only they would let me show them my vulnerability. Wait, I’ve shown my vulnerability. I reach out to a ton of people and express my heart.

No matter what I do, connection always seems just out of reach, and I end up perpetually hurt and rejected. Why did I always end up consumed by this thought, back in the same conversation in which I refused God’s help?

I know my worth is not determined by relationships or by throwing a well-attended party. My value is in the Lord. He loves me unconditionally. He will never fail me or abandon me (Hebrews 13:5). Only He can complete the pieces of me that the world leaves empty. I know these things. These truths seemed so near, but why had I ventured so far away from them by buying into the belief that I am destined for rejection? I knew good-and-well I was dipping my toe back into the same spiral, only hours after reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Uninvited. I learned so much from it, then–BAM–distraction through unrealistic comparisons about why people hadn’t attended my party but were going to everyone else’s parties.

That’s how the lie of rejection works in my life. It’s one of Satan’s tools to separate me from God’s truth. The lie seems small and harmless at first. I minimize it by telling myself, “I’m allowed to feel down. I have a reason.” It’s perfectly natural to feel this way, right? That’s what the world tells me. And if I believe it, I float off into a funk and neglect God’s Word, even when it’s smack dab in front of me. But I’m not meant to wallow in self-pity and victimization. Instead, I knew this was the exact opportunity I needed to demolish old thoughts and patterns.

“What we see will violate what we know unless what we know dictates what we see.”¹ 

Until last week, I prayed, “God, please lead me to the relationships in which you want me to engage. Show me the people I can help or bring to me those who need my help. Whether those people are complete strangers, people with whom I’m already associated, or even people from the past with whom you want me to reconnect.” Seemed like a fine little prayer on the surface. Sometimes I saw it answered, perhaps by a stranger who would become an acquaintance or when an old friend requested me on Facebook. But the answers were superficial and hardly satisfied my intimate desire to connect to others. So, earlier this week, as I sat down to edit my writing, the Holy Spirit enlightened me.

Ditch that prayer, I heard. Stop chasing your need for relationships. Be with me. I am enough.

I was stuck in my writing because my writing is my thinking. What holds our attention most is what we truly worship, and I was worshipping rejection. The realization was repulsive. At that moment, I rejected rejection. I surrendered my chase. I opened my depth, where resides my deepest need for belonging, and I felt God take my emptiness and fill it.

“Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

Immediately, I turned my thoughts to His love and let His truth prevail as the loudest voice over my hurt. One more small but powerful piece of the past relinquished to the Almighty. Rejection is no longer my idol nor my battle.

Have you allowed rejection to steal the best of who you are by reinforcing the worst of what has been said to you?² Are you chasing a love that only God can provide? Surrender to the Lord. Be with Him. He is enough.

 


  1. TerKeurst, Lysa. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016. p. 58.
  2. TerKeurst, Lysa. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016. p. 8.

Shame Has No Value

As strong and resilient as I feel most of the time, all it takes is one insensitive remark or some overly sarcastic comment toward me, and suddenly I feel like I’m 17 again. Like I’m standing in one of those shadowy hallways, facing the covert digs of mean girls and the rejection of my peers, wanting nothing more than to run home, lock myself in my bedroom, and bury myself in the empathy of Elmo. My mind doesn’t go there only because the present moment hurt. It goes there because it’s triggered by the shame of my youth, the devil’s occasional yet overwhelming reminder that my past failures forever brand me unworthy of love, acceptance, and belonging.

As a senior in high school, I physically retaliated against one of my bullies. At the time, I only wanted to be heard and protected. I felt my actions were justified until my guilt surfaced and I was served with a five-day, out-of-school suspension. Eventually, I accepted responsibility for my mistake and decided I would learn from it and change my behavior in the future. But no matter how well I overcame my guilt, I spent the rest of the year navigating the responses of my disappointed peers. Understandably,  I had failed them. They had every right to disagree with my actions. However, it wasn’t my retaliation they held over my head but my strengths and successes. Their ongoing lack of empathy and unforgiveness only helped shift my thoughts from, “I don’t deserve all of this” (humiliation) to “something is wrong with me” (shame). It was the turning point that forever changed how I interacted with people and thought of myself as a learner. I entered adulthood convinced I was socially repulsive and destined to fail in friendship. From there, whenever I felt the least bit rejected, my shame sent me into isolation.

Self-protection was comfortable, but it is not how I was meant to live. God intended for me to succeed in relationships, but how would I ever shake shame and find my way back to the kinds of connections I so greatly desired?

It is a question I see more young people facing today, many of which answer without even examining how shame is overtaking them. Instead, they submit to their hurt, disengage with others and hide behind the comfort of their phones, social media, or some other accessible outlet. If that’s you, have hope. There is a way out if you are willing. Hand over your hurt to Jesus. More than anyone, he knows what it feels like to be rejected and marginalized, yet he assigned no value to shame (Hebrews 12:2). If Jesus treated shame as an outcast, why should you and I welcome it? By focusing upon his shame, our shame loses power. In him, we will never be disgraced (Psalm 34:5). In him, we will forget the shame of our youth (Isaiah 54:4).

Suggested reading: Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection by Edward T. Welch