Rejection from parents, in-laws, coworkers, acquaintances, or teachers is painful and can destroy your confidence. Rejection can cause you to doubt your ability to do your job, your ability to be good parent, and even cause you to doubt your faith. There is freedom from this that took me decades to find. Let me help you avoid years of unhappiness.
In church settings, her story comes up from time to time. We call her The Woman At The Well. (John 4:4-30) We don't know her name, but her influence on the Church is incalculable. Each time I read her story and her matchless encounter with Christ I feel that I know her more. I understand her heart. I get her cynicism. And her bitterness.
I wonder if I would have befriended her or if I would have treated her as the other women of her village did. Would I have been grateful that her sins were so egregious that mine were ignored by the women I lived and worked with? Or, would I have worked extra hard to hide my sin from the blistering glances and comments of my neighbors? What was it like to be her? She must have been lonely. Longing for the companionship of other women. Yearning for just one friend that she could trust. Have you been there?
Living under hostile scrutiny is toxic. I've had coworkers that worked harder at making me feel unwelcome in the office than they did at their own job. I've had family that criticized insignificant things about me such as me serving my evening meal at 5;30pm. There were in-laws who snubbed me and in-laws that gave Christmas gifts to everyone in the room except me. On purpose. These rejections hurt me to my core. What hurt worse, however, was that in each of those circumstances there was no one to whom I could go for comfort.
It took me reading again (and again) and also watching a powerful film adaptation of her story for me to suddenly get it. Like a bolt from the blue. The Woman At The Well. Rejected. Alone. Stuck in a toxic environment. For radically different reasons, that woman and I had similar experiences. I understood her and her broken heart.
More than that, once I understood her broken heart, I understood her fully healed and restored heart. Because of her initial encounter with Jesus she experienced a rebirth of confidence, peace and freedom. She was no longer defined by the rejection of her neighbors but by the acceptance that Jesus Christ offered. He saw her and all her flaws and didn't flinch, blink, smirk, or roll His eyes. He simply loved her. His acceptance of her made all of the rejection become insignificant. And that same thing happened for me.
When I fully embraced the fact that Christ's acceptance of me was more vast and more powerful than the rejection of all those who had decided that I was not enough, I experienced a freedom of expression that I didn't know existed. Suddenly I had nothing that I had to prove. I could relax and breathe knowing that all my efforts to be significant and loved were accepted by the only One who really mattered.
For mothers this pressure to get it right is oppressive. It is so easy to criticize mothers. They either spend too much time with their children (I was actually criticized often for this) or for not spending enough time with their children. Mothers are too close or too distant. They are too protective or too permissive. Too strict or too lenient.
Hear me now: you are your child's parent and as long as you are providing a safe and nurturing environment that meets your child's needs for love and security you are getting it right. God gave you to your child and vice versa. Embrace your child. Embrace all the mothering instincts you have and use them the way you know is best for your family.
I have a few thoughts (as usual) about how you can move closer to freedom from rejection. Take a look at this list. Lean in to the acceptance that Christ offers.
Do your best, let God do the rest. Christ's acceptance of me caused me to dedicate myself every day to give Him the best I could. My best energy, my best attitude, my best organization, my best work. I am a diligent worker who strives for excellence in all I do. Cooking a meal, teaching a child to read, refreshing a bulletin board, playing piano for the church choir, changing diapers, cleaning my house, whatever I'm doing I give it my best. I do this not to earn Christ's acceptance (that's impossible) but to offer a grateful response to the love that I have received. Do your tasks well. In addition to being an appropriate response to the love of Jesus, doing your work well allows you to ignore the criticism of those toxic detractors in your life.
Move on. I made a couple of big mistakes in this area. Please let my hurt serve you. I stayed far too long in a work environment that left me perpetually discouraged and constantly fighting to prove my worth. Those folks got their money's worth out of me! LOL! The bad news is that it was not appreciated. When I finally left and served a church that loved my energy, creativity, organizational skills, and work ethic it was a breath of fresh air so pure and sweet that I couldn't wait to get to work each day. There were days I actually cried from sheer gratitude of being loved and wanted. Please don't make this mistake. Learn from me. Move on. You do not have to work where you are not valued. Keep your resume updated.
Find your people. This sounds really simple, doesn't it? I know that for some of us this is very hard. If your family is your greatest source of rejection and you are doing good work as a parent, homemaker, or whatever, then you need friends to dilute the negative talk. You need a group of people with whom you can really share your heart. This happened for me when I found my first support group for homeschooling parents back in 1990. Locating this tribe of like minded mothers was a lifeline of confidence and happiness. I laughed, listened and talked openly for the first time in years when I became close to these people. Critics around me became insignificant once I had this safe space in my life. I still remember the joy.
Be kind. Once you have experienced rejection, you know what it feels like. Rebuke the rejection that you have received by pouring acceptance and grace into others. Offer others what you yourself needed. In doing so, you are repairing the world. Look up the phrase "Tikkun Olam". Do this. Make the repairs that you can.
You are enough. You are loved. You are accepted. You are a precious treasure to Christ. The God who created you is looking at you the way you looked at your newborn baby: with wonder and joy. Lean in to this kind of acceptance. It is there for you.
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