When we moved to this area ten years ago, I was sure we’d be friends with this family down the street. Our boys were in the same class. We saw each other at school and stood at the bus stop together each morning when they started kindergarten. But somehow, it never happened.
My family’s attempts to reach out weren’t rejected just once, but repeatedly. On two separate occasions my brave son rode his bike down the street to invite them over for a Nerf battle. When my husband told me, I prayed for a bridge to be built. But it wasn’t. And after the second time, my son got the picture. They weren’t interested in being friends. Not now. And perhaps not ever. I tried to find hope in the rejection, but it wasn’t there. Or at least, I didn’t see it.
Ever been there? You meet someone, and whether it’s proximity or a shared interest, you think, “This person and I will be friends.” But your attempts at conversation are met with blank stares or curt, one word responses. Your friend request ignored. These rejections can leave us walking around wounded and wondering, “Why bother? Why risk the humiliation?”
Each move our family made to a new area brought a wilderness of loneliness with it. A period I walked through where I wondered if we’d ever taste the sweetness of community again. Eventually, we made connections with people who reciprocated and wanted our company. But first, we needed to get alone with the Lord. We needed to realize some core truths about who we were, truths that would carry us through seasons where we questioned whether we belonged.
1. Our worth is not determined by someone’s acceptance.
Jesus was rejected too. The same people who shouted “Hosanna,” and praised him one week shouted for him to be crucified the next. What can we learn from this? That people’s opinions and feelings are fickle. They change like the wind, and are not reliable ways to base our worth. While we need community and connection, we have also need to approach these relationships from a place of stability. Our foundation is in Christ, not someone else’s acceptance. And what God says about us? It’s unchanging. Once we are in Christ, we are his.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV
2. Our completion is in Christ, not our friendships with others.
Most of us know the famous line from Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire. “You complete me.” And yes, it’s romantic and it sounds wonderful. Here’s the problem: No other human being can complete us. Only Christ can. Our friendships and relationships with others are meant to help us be the complete person we already are, not be used as a means to fill us up. Why? Because if we approach others with an empty cup, expecting them to fill us up, we approach friendship from a place of greed, not from a place of loving others. Let’s let God do the completing, and approach relationships with a desire to love others and connect.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 NIV
Sidenote: Yes, we will go through seasons where we are more needy, and need others to help carry our burden. This does not mean we are looking to others to complete us. It simply means we are human.
3. Others may leave or reject us, but God never will.
This doesn’t mean rejection won’t sting. Those feelings of abandonment are real and we don’t have to brush them under the rug. But we can also have the assurance to know that God will never turn his backs on us. He keeps pursuing us and loving us with a love that never quits. We’re not too much for him. We don’t need to pretend we have it all together for him to hear us. He understands us better than we understand ourselves, and he waits for us to communicate with him.
Friend, I don’t know what rejection you might be recovering from today. But I do know this: We all face them at some point. But don’t let others’ reactions become an excuse to hide. Keep reaching out to others. Keep extending your hand. There is hope in the midst of the rejection.
But first, get anchored in the truth of know you are: His beloved. When we start there, we’re more equipped to face those disappointments. And when we persevere, we’ll find those connections we seek, in his perfect timing.
If you need to shift your focus from what others think about you to what God says about your identity, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“This book came at just the right time in my life when I needed to change my perspective. Abby McDonald’s beautiful and easy-to-read writing felt comforting and gently guided and helped me shift my attitude. There are so many great quotes throughout. There are few books I treasure enough to keep forever—this is one of them.” – Valerie
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.