The experience of rejection is real in most of our lives. No matter the age, gender, race, or status of life, rejection makes its way to all of us. It is probably most devastating when it is experienced in childhood. Unless intervention occurs from a parent, friend, or guardian, the experience of rejection will likely be taken personal. This could lead to a myriad of problems in the future, such as drugs or alcohol addiction, depression, anxiety, etc.
Those who have experienced the pain of rejection know the devastation that it can cause to the self-image. Without adequate intervention, the one who has experienced rejection can resort to rejecting him or herself. It could even cause that person to work hard to be accepted by the rejector, which could lead to more self-rejection.
King David knew what it was like to be rejected. On many occasions, David profoundly expressed his thoughts and feelings of rejection in the Psalms. In Psalm 3:12 he says: “…I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, ‘God will never rescue him!’”
Of course, we know that David relied heavily on God for intervention and encouragement. Yet, I would venture to say that David also had a sense of self-acceptance. He knew that all had fallen short of God’s holy perfection, and he also knew that God would forgive (Psalm 116:11) no matter what his flaw if he confessed and came to repentance. We tend to compare ourselves with others, thinking they are more acceptable. Yet, we must remember that if God “kept a record of our sins, who could stand?” Self-acceptance is remembering that none are worthy, but God’s unearned favor makes us worthy before him and others.
Since rejection is bound to be experienced, whether in the past, present, or future, we must not forget the importance of self-acceptance, which I call the first intervention because it is an act of agreeing with God that we are worth the death of is only begotten Son. A humbling thought, but it is true: “God demonstrates his love for us, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Consequently, we also need others to come beside us to show us acceptance as well. In other words, we need a second intervention, which is also essential to overcome rejection. This is where having good friends, a caring family member, or a counselor comes into play. A friend could be a stranger that we have a brief encounter with, but during that encounter a friendly word and/or deed is offered without having to give anything in return. This is an intervention of unconditional positive regard, or unconditional acceptance.
It is good for us to be honest about our mistakes or sins, and confess them, first to God (1John 1:9), and then to others as appropriate (James 5:16). Afterwards, to move on with a healthy, productive life, we have to learn to separate ourselves from the problem or mistake; accepting that we are human beings who may sometimes fail to meet the standards of others, or even our own standards. It is important to remember that learning and improving is a process, and it varies according to the person. Some have an innate ability to become great athletes, whereas others are much more comfortable with being in the academic arena. It is our individual differences that makes up the functioning of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Therefore, self-acceptance is essential in realizing how wonderful each of us are in the sight of Jesus.
Often, it can be hard to see God’s love for us because of the damage that has been done through unfortunate experiences in our lives. In this case, it is helpful to remember that we live in a fallen world that resulted from the original sin. However, the Good News is that a change is taking place because of God’s mercy in giving his Son to die for us, so that sin is no longer held against us. When we remember and accept this gift of hope, we receive healing and help in time of need, and we can move forward with confidence. We can also know that “Greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the world” (1John 4:4). This may not immediately take away all the sting of rejection, or the injury it has caused, but we can be assured that we are accepted by one who is greater than all who reject us, even if ourselves are included. “If our heart condemns us, God is stronger than our hearts” (1John 3:20). He has a way to restore to us his love, peace, and joy.