8 Good Things to Remember after Experiencing Rejection
Someone once said, “Don’t let the opinion of one or two people decide what you think about yourself.” When it comes to rejection, it’s pretty safe to say that no one wants to face it. Here are eight good things to remember after experiencing rejection:
1. People say and do unkind things because of their selfish desires.
We are all prone to think our motives are purer than they actually are. The people from whom we have experienced rejection likely feel they are justified in their actions for a variety of reasons. Of course, these are not necessarily good reasons, but the likelihood of such people recognizing their selfish motivations is slim to none most of the time:
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. (Prov. 21:2)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9)
As much as we wish other people would acknowledge the pain they have caused in our lives and ask for our forgiveness, this doesn’t often occur. Even when it does, it can be years before they understand and are sorry for their actions. It’s best not to expect an apology and instead forgive the person as Christ has forgiven us.
2. There is good in reflecting on possible factors leading to the rejection.
If we reflect on the rejection we have experienced, we may find some patterns. Perhaps we have a tendency to make friends with people who already have a well-established social network, and they don’t have the time or feel the need to commit to a relationship with another person. Or it may be that we have unreasonable expectations for the relationship and the person feels excessively burdened by them. We may have sinned against the person in some way either knowingly or unknowingly that made them unwilling to continue the relationship.
While we may have thought that our job performance was stellar at an organization from which we were fired, others may have seen our work differently for a variety of reasons. Taking time to assess our patterns of behavior and responsibility in the rejection can help us make changes in future interactions with others. We may even need to ask someone’s forgiveness, but we shouldn’t expect a full restoration of the relationship. Earning someone’s trust again or being able to trust someone who has hurt you takes time and doesn’t always occur.
3. People don’t always want our help.
Perhaps we reached out to a friend or someone at work or church, or in our family, in an attempt to be a good influence in their lives in some way. Yet, the person saw our “counsel” as criticism. While it can be frustrating to say or do nothing when we want to help a person, it is good to remember the words of George Washington from his Rules of Civility:
Give not Advice with[out] being Ask'd & when desired [d]o it briefly. (Rule 68)
Knowing when to give counsel and when to be silent requires the wisdom that comes from much prayer, Bible reading, and life experience. The process of acquiring such wisdom cannot be rushed. Sometimes a relationship can go on for years before enough trust is established for advice to be solicited—and received.
4. There are positive steps we can take to produce a different outcome in the future.
Take some time to think about people you know at church and work and in your community who are kind, yet somewhat shy. Perhaps they have experienced rejection as well and are hesitant to try to build new relationships. In many cases, they would love to have a friend who would enjoy their company. Be sure to pay attention to appropriate boundaries if you or the other person are married or in a dating relationship with someone else.
Maybe you can plan a walk or hike together, go to a matinee, or meet for coffee. If you are both single and the person is of the opposite sex, the relationship could even lead to marriage in the future! It may be that a long-term friendship isn’t in the cards for one reason or another, but hopefully you will at least have some beneficial real-life interaction with someone for a time in an increasingly digital world.
If your rejection was work related, you may want to consider taking steps to acquire more knowledge and expertise to build upon your current skills and education. Pursuing a degree, taking classes, and attending conferences are all excellent ways to meet new and interesting people who may become significant influences in your life for the good in the months and years to come.
5. We can use rejection as an opportunity to re-evaluate the direction in which we are headed.
Perhaps your submission was rejected by an agent or publisher. Maybe you thought you had landed your dream job, only to discover the company has pivoted and your services are no longer needed. It could be the case that the person you thought would be your companion for life isn’t ready for marriage or has found someone else. Dreams you had for the future are now laid waste, and you’re not sure what to do.
These kinds of rejections are not at all uncommon to the human experience, and God uses them to guide us where he wants us to go:
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. (Prov. 16:9)
The rejection that is now causing you pain may be the impetus for making a change in your career path, the content you create, the place where you live, the church you attend, the person you marry, or the activities you choose to pursue going forward. While it is impossible to see now, months or years down the road you may be thankful for the circumstances that caused you to see God-honoring possibilities and to make them a reality.
6. God will never reject us and will always love us.
Regardless of how people treat us, our status in Christ is always secure, and our inheritance is waiting for us. The Holy Spirit dwells in us, and he will never leave us:
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom. 8:16-17)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5-6)
Remember, even in times of exceedingly painful rejection, that God sees us clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and we are beautiful in his sight and adored.
7. Rejection is to be expected in the Christian life.
Christians can expect to be persecuted for their faith in Christ, so they will face additional rejection in this world as our Lord told us:
“And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The apostle Peter also writes about the aspect of suffering in the Christian life:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Pet. 4:12-14)
The next time you are rejected, take time to consider the impossible-to-fathom painful rejection our Lord experienced by those he came to save. If you are rejected because of your faith in Christ, count it joy that you have been granted the privilege of suffering for his name’s sake.
8. Focus your heart and mind on pleasing God instead of people.
Ultimately, it only matters what God thinks of you. Take your consequent duties seriously as a child of God and seek to honor the Lord in all you do:
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. (Col. 3:23)
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thess. 2:4)
As believers, we can trust that God is at work in these disappointments for his glory and our growth in holiness. He may be testing our faith to see if we are willing to trust him even when circumstances make no sense or are terribly unjust and evil, and this kind of faith is a great testimony to the world of what is most important—our relationship with God that will last for all eternity.
Instead of being the end, rejection can be the beginning of hope.
The pain we face as sinful human beings in the rejections of life cannot compare with all the rejection that Christ, who was without sin, willingly suffered because of his great love for us. The rejections we experience should also should make us even more determined to treat others with love and respect.
God has our good in mind, even in the rejections we encounter. As his children may we face such suffering with humility, fortitude, forgiveness, hope, and trust in our heavenly Father’s loving oversight in our lives.
Le Ann Trees is managing editor of Beautiful Christian Life.
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