I can clearly remember a handful of moments over the years where I felt the sting of rejection. Even though much time has passed, those feelings of disappointment still linger with me, feeding me lies that I am not likeable or wanted or welcome. Even recently, a close college friend got engaged and planned her wedding, and I found out as the celebrations went on that I wasn’t invited. It hurt to realize she didn’t want me to be part of the festivities, and it made me wonder if maybe we weren’t friends after all. Maybe she didn’t even like me…
It’s helpful when those hurt feelings arise to step back to gain some perspective.
Amanda Brown recently wrote “When Someone Doesn’t Like You” for Gospel Taboo, and she shares five great things to keep in mind when we are feeling like someone doesn’t like us.
- “Remember that people didn’t like Jesus either.” While this might seem like a cliche Sunday School reason at first, it’s actually incredibly encouraging to read countless stories throughout Scripture of Jesus being rejected too. Obviously, rejection isn’t something I’d wish for anyone (especially our Savior) but it’s comforting to know that Jesus gets it. He understands our pain, because he experienced it too. “When we feel rejected,” Brown writes, “his posture towards us is compassionate and understanding (Ps. 56:8). Not only that, he dealt with rejection perfectly (1 Peter 2).”
- “Remember that pain is a gift that should lead us to Jesus.” This can be so hard to remember when we’re in the middle of feeling stung and rejected, but it’s necessary. “The suffering of rejection can lead me to two places-- to self-loathing, self-pity, and isolation, or to the cross, where my approval was purchased by the blood of Jesus,” Brown writes. When we are feeling pain, we should see it as a crossroads, where we can choose to move away from Jesus and from healing, or toward him.
- “Remember that there are things about you that are unlikable.” It takes a healthy dose of humility to realize we aren’t perfect beings, but I, like Brown, have had moments of clarity where I’ve realized there are some pretty unlikable things about myself. There are blind spots in our lives that the people around us may be shining a light on, even when it’s uncomfortable for us to see. “When I feel rejected,” Brown says, “I have an opportunity to ask God to continue to work out the areas that are not likable in my life and to trust his promise that he will completely restore every single ugly and broken area of my life, in his timing.”
- “Remember that the things that are likable about you are gifts from God.” Have you ever felt like you needed to prove your worth after someone slights you? Have you ever felt tempted to rattle off a whole list of reasons why you’re awesome and that friend would be lucky to have you in their life? I admit I have… and it’s humbling (again) to remember that all the good things about me are gifts from the Lord. “Nothing good in me is of my own doing,” Brown says. “On my own, I’m completely unlikable (Is. 64:6). But God has chosen to cultivate some gifts in my life that he’s using to draw people to himself and build up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:12).”
- “Remember that God’s acceptance provides all kinds of benefits.” Even if every single person in the world were to turn their back on you (God forbid!), you could take great comfort in knowing that the Lord would never leave nor forsake you, and that he is drawing you into deeper relationship with himself day by day. There is so much richness to be found in life with Jesus, and we can find great peace and deep joy in him despite the hurt we feel. “When the sting of rejection comes,” Brown says, “may we be a people who use the opportunity to worship God for the acceptance the cross purchased. May we be quick to respond in repentance for the ways we fall short. And me we respond in faith that he will continue to transform us into his very own likeness.”
Rejection, unfortunately, is bound to happen. We know that even the people we love most in the world can (and likely will) hurt us despite their best intentions, and we also know that no matter what comes our way, the Lord understands us, loves us, and is faithful to us. In the hurt, we can choose to draw closer to him, letting him heal us, transform our hearts, and bring us into greater freedom and deeper faith.
Photo credit: Unsplash
Publication date: June 7, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the design editor for Crosswalk.com.