Overcoming Rejection

Everyone knows what it feels like to be unduly criticized and rejected, especially when it comes from people we want to please. Nobody can be their best at everything, and sometimes we fail to live up to other people’s expectations. We were born and raised in a worldly system that chooses favorites and rejects seconds. From the earliest age, we strive to please significant others in order to gain their approval. In our natural state, we choose to adapt to this world system in one of three ways. First, there are some who try to beat the system. These people try to earn their acceptance and strive for significance through their appearance, performance, or social status. They feel driven to get to the top because winning is their passport to acceptance, security, and significance. They are characterized by perfectionism and emotional insulation usually leading to anxiety, stress, and burnout. They are prone to controlling and manipulating people and circumstances for their own end, so it is difficult for them to yield control in their lives to God. Eventually their abilities diminish and younger, stronger, and more capable controllers replace them.

Second, others give in to the system. The strongest, prettiest, and most talented are “in,” and they are “out,” because they don’t measure up in those categories. By giving into this worldly system, these people succumb to society’s false judgment of their worth. They often find it difficult to accept themselves, because others haven’t. Some have trouble relating to God, because they blame Him for making them that way.

The third group rebels against the system. They respond to rejection by saying, “I don’t need you and I don’t want your love!” They need love and acceptance like everyone else, but they refuse to acknowledge it. They often underscore their defiance and rebellion by dressing and behaving in ways that are objectionable to the general population. Rebels are marked by self-hatred and bitterness. They are irresponsible and undisciplined. They see God and religious people as someone trying to squeeze them into a socially acceptable mold.

All three responses to the social systems of this world eventually lead to defeat. The kingdom of God is totally different. Nobody wins in the world’s system, but everybody wins in the kingdom of God. We are not in competition with one another. Paul says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12). We are loved and accepted unconditionally by God. There is a necessary place in the Body of Christ for each one of us. Helping another person succeed enhances our success. The more we build one another up, the more we build ourselves up.

Dr. Neil

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