by Mike Genung
When a message of rejection is driven into the heart and allowed to infect the core beliefs, a man or woman can suffer for years with inner torment. Healing the wounds of rejection can seem far away, as the lies are driven deep.
Here’s how it plays out:
Someone hurts us, by abuse, rejection, neglect, or abandonment; verbally or physically.
We bite hard onto the lie that “because this person didn’t love or value me, I must be scum.”
Every time we fail or make a mistake, or someone mistreats us, Satan reinforces the lie by whispering “See, you failed again. You’re a loser. You’ll never get it right.”
We get angry.
Then depressed. The emotional turmoil and pain are unbearable, so we look for a way to cope. Many shut their hearts down at this point.
Some medicate their pain with sex, drugs, alcohol, work-addiction, hobbies, family, or sports. Or ministry.
Others put massive expectations on their loved ones that they must resolve the pain in their heart. When this doesn’t happen (which is always the case), it reinforces the lie that they can’t be accepted as they are and they sink further into the cycle of depression, anger, and medicating pain the wrong way.
Now every perceived slight, real or imagined, sets us off. We’re a walking time bomb, ready to go off.
Our medication of choice is no longer fun, and only leaves us more miserable than before. Some take bigger risks and go for a more intense high, which only leaves them more empty, guilt-ridden, angry, and depressed.
Finally, it happens, and they hit rock bottom. Maybe their wife walks out the door, they lose their job, or they get in trouble with the law. The pain of the consequences is now more severe than the pain in their heart, and they’re finally willing to take a hard look in the mirror.
The way out is difficult. Now they have to fight a battle to break free from the addiction to their pseudo-medication, in addition to facing the wound in their heart. If they skim the top of the weed, only dealing with their sinful coping mechanisms while avoiding the heart issues, they remain vulnerable to repeated relapses.
The wound of rejection must be healed for lasting freedom, life, and joy.
Expect a battle if you want healing. The enemy will turn up the heat from every side: “You don’t want to go there… it’ll hurt too much. Do you really believe you’re anything but a piece of sewage? The love of God is for other people, not a screwup like you. Many have said you’re worthless and there’s no hope… can they really be wrong?”
Then there’s the concrete walls we’ve erected around our heart, complete with “Do Not Disturb” sign. You can usually tell guys like these because they’re great at preaching to others but rarely talk about their own fears, hurt, failures, or disappointments.
Let’s lay all the pieces out on the table.
1. Someone you loved, respected, or desperately needed hurt, rejected or abandoned you. Refuse to medicate this truth any longer. You were let down, and it was painful. Your heart has been empty and lonely for years, and you’re crying out for love and acceptance. If you’re seething in rage for what they did, own it. Talk this out with a trusted friend or counselor, and/or journal it out with God.
2. Now take a hard look at how you interpreted what happened; what you internalized about who you are. Ask for guidance and revelation from the Holy Spirit; this will be especially important. No Sunday school answers or quoting of scripture allowed here, that’s another way to avoid your pain.
Here are some lies that many buy into:
I can’t get it right.
I can’t please others.
I am worthless.
I am rejected.
I cannot be loved as I am.
There’s no hope.
I am dirty; soiled. No one would want me if they really knew how filthy I am.
I am ugly.
I deserve what happened to me; to be rejected.
God doesn’t love me.
Just because you’re a Christian and you know the Bible says God loves you and you’re a son or daughter of God, doesn’t mean you really believe it. What we believe and what we know can be two different things. What you believe drives your actions; if what you know doesn’t make it to your heart then you’ll be more prone to falling into sinful coping patterns.
Don’t hurry this step. God might reveal your wounds over a period of weeks, or even months. It might take talking it out with a trusted friend, or He might flush it out through solo time with Him. Or both.
Delving into your heart may bring sorrow. Don’t run from it. If you’ve experienced loss, allow yourself the space to grieve it. Jesus lamented the loss of relationship with the people of Israel (Luke 13:34), expressing how He yearned to “gather their children together.” Grieving is part of the healing process.
Now that you know the lies you’ve bought into, confess them to God and at least one friend. Then ask your friend to pray for you on a consistent basis that the Lord will open your heart up to the truth, which includes:
A. Although someone rejected you, God never does. Read 1 Corinthians 13 for a description of love, and replace “love is…” with “God is…” Knowing God’s character will be key to your recovery; the lies we buy into distort our perception of God, as do the continual assaults of the enemy. The influence of those closest to us has a major impact too. For example, if our parents were stern, angry, or abusive, we can struggle with seeing God as kind and patient.
Knowing God’s character is critical as it will bring you to the doorstep of healing. If you see God as cruel or rejecting chances are you will shy away from Him. If you believe that He is completely willing and able to heal you because He is loving, kind and patient (1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4), and wants you to know Him (Jeremiah 29:13), you will have hope for the love, true joy, and freedom you’ve been looking for.
B. God allowed you to be rejected. He gave you your parents; He put the person who molested you in your path; He gave you a husband who is a sex addict. He knew you would be abandoned, rejected, or neglected. This might upset you, but for healing to take place we must work through the entire truth. God allowed you to suffer. Are you angry at Him? No Sunday school answers allowed—we’re after what’s in your heart, not your head.
Let’s put suffering in perspective. In hindsight I can say that the Lord took every traumatic event in my life (I have been molested, held a son while he died, and lost a home to foreclosure, among other trials) and gave them meaning and purpose. He used it cleanse me of sin, teach me more about His faithfulness, care, and healing, and brought the fruit that comes from being able to relate to others who are hurting. I wouldn’t be writing to you now if it wasn’t for the trials in my life. God can redeem and give purpose to your pain, if you let Him. You will find joy and thank Him for the pain in your life because He’s revealed Himself to you when you allowed Him to open your heart and heal it.
Consider what your trials would be like without God. Without Him there is no hope, purpose, or meaning. I can’t imagine going through suffering without Him.
There is an element of danger here, because some will fade away from God in bitterness when they realize that He allowed their suffering, rejection, and pain. This happens when all we do is listen to Satan’s lies, instead of taking the time to discover the whole truth of who God is and how He tranforms our suffering into blessings. If you’re struggling with this, I suggest walking through the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-46, the books of Job, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, and the Gospels. Look especially at how God the Father allowed Jesus to suffer horribly, and the powerful, history changing outcome.
As you walk through this step, more lies may be revealed. Confess and renounce them.
C. He loves you. There are verses all over the Bible that bear witness to the love of God. Psalms 63 is one of my favorites. There is also Psalms 103, Ephesians 1, Romans 8, the book of 1 John, and many others. Just because a broken, selfish sinner told you that you were worthless, either in deed or word, or you failed miserably, does not mean it’s the truth. What God says in His word is The Truth; this must be the foundation that your heart is built on.
If you’ve been feeding on lies for years, it may take time for the truth to sink in to your heart. Your emotions may scream “no, it can’t be true!” while God’s Spirit gently whispers “yes, it is.” It’s what God says that is true that matters, not what you feel. If our feelings don’t line up with the truth it can be an indication that something is still off; a lie needs to be worked out, or a hurt resolved. Keep pressing in until the Lord provides a break-though.
Once you’re exposed the lies, confessed them, and replaced them with the truth, two steps remain.
Forgive anyone who hurt you, from your heart (Matthew 18:35).
If your heart is poisoned with bitterness, there can be no healing or peace. Forgiveness means writing the person who hurt you a full pardon and then resolving never to judge or hold what they did against them again. You might consider asking God for compassion for the other person to help you see them as He does. Doing so might make it easier to love and forgive them.
Thank the Lord for what happened to you.
Some of you just fell off your chair. “Why would I ever thank God for being rejected?” But thanking Him is a way of saying “God, Your will be done. I’m going to trust that you have a purpose for what happened to me and a plan for the future. Thank you for helping and healing me. Thank you for teaching me about Your faithfulness and Who You are. Thank You for exposing the lies and revealing the truth to me. I accept Your plan for my life.”
As time goes on and you heal, the enemy may come back and start attacking with his lies again. When this happens, go back to the truth, and stand on it. The enemy can’t take the truth away from you, or alter it. All he can do is try to convince you to buy into his lies.
In time you’ll be so rooted in the truth that the old lies have no way of gaining traction in your heart. The wounds of rejection will be healed, and you’ll walk with a lighter load.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32