When you hear the word “rejection,” what comes to mind?
For some, it’s the sting of unrequited love. For others, it’s feeling ignored, forgotten, left out, or overlooked –both intentionally and unintentionally –in any given scenario (e.g., among friends, colleagues, complete strangers, etc.)
Everyone experiences rejection from time to time, and most people would agree that rejection is simply a part of life. Even so, for something so common, when and how do we begin to navigate rejection in productive ways? In grade school? In college? After a single moment of rejection rocks our world and scars us for life? After months, or perhaps, years of therapy? I believe this is one of many life lessons that was excluded from my “Life 101” curriculum… Anyone else feel the same way? Just me? OK.
On that note, I’m about to be extremely vulnerable, so pray and stay with me…
The Truth About My Anxiety
In recent years, this nine-letter word – rejection – has been at the forefront of my thought life. On my journey to controlling, and Lord willing, healing my anxiety, I’ve discovered where my battle truly lies: in processing feelings of rejection that I’ve never fully disclosed, surrendered, and healed from. It’s a daunting task to say that least, but here’s where I’ve arrived:
I have an uncanny ability to recall a lifetime of moments of rejection –both vividly and rapidly, and oftentimes, compulsively –in the middle of my anxiety attacks. It’s a frightening experience; and every thought adds more fuel to the flames of my emotional unrest. Not to mention, the physical pain that comes along as if I’m re-living those moments all over again. It’s a crippling pain that lingers in my chest…that intensifies beyond my control. It’s hard to put into words, but one thing is for sure: it’s absolute TORTURE. In those moments, I feel outside of myself. I feel everything and nothing at all. And the saddest part is this: as I pray for relief, I find myself telling God that it’s okay if He wants to end this thing, because the pain is too much to bear and the thought of suffering in this way for the rest of my life scares me.
Discovering this pattern in my anxiety was a huge breakthrough for me, but it was just the beginning of a long overdue process –to face rejection head on, to call it out, and to detach it from my identity.
A Way Forward
Lord willing, I’m going to master this thing. I’m going to master my anxiety. I’m going to know myself so well that rejection will no longer have a foothold in my life. That rejection will no longer be a tool that the enemy uses to keep me bound, to send my mind to places of deep despair, and to ignite fear in me. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I will overcome this thing. I will learn how to deal with feelings of rejection quickly. I will fully submit my pain to God and continually pray for His intervention. He has been, and will continually be, my help…
After much prayer, I took a huge step and made a list of names of individuals who’ve hurt me intentionally and unintentionally. It was a long list because, again, this thing goes all the way back to my childhood; and over the years, I hadn’t given too much thought to how, back then, I didn’t know the first things about fully submitting my feelings to God. More often than not, I tried to wish my feelings away, to make up different scenarios in my mind that had less of a sting, to pretend that I wasn’t hurt. Needless to say, this didn’t serve me well; thus, as I created my list, I had to include the names of people I haven’t spoken to in years…people I may never see again.
I prayed over the names on my list and I asked God to help me submit any lingering anger, bitterness, confusion, or frustration I had over the way those individuals made me feel. I told Him that whenever I think of them, I don’t want my mind to wander back to those hurtful moments. I want to relinquish my feelings of rejection and claim my healing, so I did just that, and then, I burned the list of names.
There’s a little story behind the title of this blog post. Two months ago, I participated in a fun and engaging workshop at Legacy Conference. One of the exercises required us to think about the title we would give our lives. As I talked in circles with the young woman I was paired with, she waited patiently and quietly (as required in the exercise), and I eventually landed on the following: “Navigating Rejection, Walking In Acceptance.” Later on, she was able to communicate her understanding of how I described my experiences and how the title I chose clearly reflected them. When I was asked to share with the larger group, the facilitator quickly asked if I had any intentions to write a book. I laughed, but I let her know that it had crossed my mind…and now, I have a title for it.
I share all this to say that although rejection, of all sorts, has been a recurring theme in my life, I can have victory over it. I can learn how to navigate feelings of rejection while walking in full acceptance from God. Ultimately, my identity is found in Him –not in my feelings or in what others say or do. I can have confidence in who He says that I am and all He has created me to be. I can experience joy from that alone. I can find peace of mind.
In light of everything I’ve spoken of, I’ll close with the Bible verse I’ve been meditating on these days:
“Love…keeps no record of wrongs…” — 1 Corinthians 13:5
The list of names I burned (and the memories they provoked) was my record of wrongs –a lifetime’s worth that I didn’t know that I had. I can say, in full confidence, that I’ve submitted it to God.
Thank you for reading,