This is going to be a vulnerable post for me to write— perhaps the most vulnerable one I have ever written. I have struggled with a spirit of rejection for my entire life. It started early in childhood—the fruit of a transient lifestyle that living in ministry necessitates. We moved houses once every two years or so. It is difficult to maintain lifelong friendships with sand in your shoes, and was especially difficult when technology was not what it is today. We moved overseas when you still had to schedule a long-distance telephone call in advance with an operator. Texting, Skyping, and the like were not even a thought.
Beyond the instability of my childhood, I was often the third wheel in my friendships. I tended to play counselor, helping other girls patch up their squabbles with their best friends, and then would consign myself to a book when the two inevitably ran off to play together without me. I often felt like I did not measure up and could not relate to people my own age. The “being the third wheel” feeling was a pattern that continued into my adulthood. I longed for relational stability, but it felt like my life was a series of upheavals.
The enemy likes to take the natural inclinations of our personalities and exacerbate them. Rejection often manifests in fear and in a tendency to try to hurt before you can be hurt. To this day, I am acutely sensitive to perceived unfairness, and I am prone to taking it personally when individuals get busy and fall out of contact. Rejection often will spiral into fear of being rejected, which then manifests as the conviction that everyone hates me.
A few weeks ago, my feelings began to escalate due to a perfect storm of unrelated events. The final straw hit when I realized I was allowing myself to feel neglected when Facebook friends interacted on others’ posts but never mine. You know it is bad when you get caught up in the Facebook drama. 🙂 Believing that the Lord was allowing some things to come together in order to bring change in my life, I removed myself from Facebook in order to accept His invitation into some serious self-reflection and growth. He did not leave me waiting long.
The Sunday of my break offline, my pastor spoke a powerful message on growing pains that seemed to confirm the fact that the Lord is wanting to bring me out of victimhood and into empowered freedom from rejection. Doing so requires a change in perspective on a lot of events in my life. The following Saturday, I was honored to be able to lead worship for an incredible group of ladies who had come together to listen to some teachings by Christine Caine on getting past your past. I have found a portion of this teaching on YouTube, and I am sharing the link below. I highly recommend anyone who follows my writings to listen to the truth of her message. This is not a blanket personal endorsement of her ministry. I have not yet heard any of her other teachings. However, “Moving Past Your Past” is powerful, and a good weapon to have to be able to pull out and hear again regularly.
Soon after, I took my husband to the TobyMac Hits Deep concert in our city for an early anniversary present (this man has shepherded my heart for six years already—can you believe it?) and heard Mandisa tell a crowded arena of strangers that she had relapsed into food addiction. She shared how the devil began to whisper how much of a hypocrite she was for getting up in front of people and singing about being an overcomer when she herself was failing. Our stories are rarely pretty, but there is beauty in the journey. Then she threw back her head and belted out a single from her newest upcoming album as a challenge to the enemy who wants to silence her message—”I’m still here.” I am looking forward to that album. There is power in the vulnerable places.
Where does that leave me now? I will be the first to admit I am a work in progress. My knee-jerk reaction in the face of perceived neglect is most often to withdraw and analyze all the reasons the other party must not like me. When individuals have conversations or choose to spend time without me, my immediate thought is still to believe they are purposefully excluding me, that I am a bother, and that I am too much for them to handle. I am still too caught up in what other people think of me. The fear of man is a nasty stronghold to try to escape.
Why am I sharing this?
One of the most powerful truths that came from the Christine Caine teaching was this: you measure your degree of freedom by your ability to turn around and set others free. I know I am not the only one who has struggled with a spirit of rejection. I know I am not the only one who has had thoughts of self hatred. I know I am not the only one who has reacted in fear and feeling left out of things. I am so thankful that I have some godly friends in my life who do not struggle in this area and who have been able to pour into me over the last few weeks. So I share where I am now to invite you into my process. I feel my Jesus standing beside me and asking the question He asked of the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be healed?”
I do. I long to be healed. I do not want to be in this place of focusing on my lack of self-esteem rather than on how I can continue to bless those the Lord has entrusted to me. I do not want to live my life magnifying my self-worth rather than His glory. And I want to have the privilege of looking at other young woman trapped in the pain of past rejection and saying, “If God did it for me, there is no way He is not able to do it for you too.”
It is a twisty journey. It isn’t pretty. But I’m still here.