It all begins with understanding where we find true worth: in God, not other people
Rejection came my way early in life. Socially, I was a failure in elementary school. Day after day in the cafeteria, no one talked to me. When I finished my lunch, I would plug my ears and close my eyes to shut out the children who ignored me. And at recess, kids mocked my mismatched clothes, unkempt hair, and my “really religious” family. My poor interpersonal skills only made matters worse. By the time we returned to our classroom, my face was usually blotchy from crying. I felt terribly alone. Surely no one else knew such confusion, isolation and loneliness!
The years since have taught me differently. Most people have felt excluded at one time or another. Like me, some are written off for being unusual. Others are overlooked because they lack certain abilities, physical attractiveness or social skills. And believers are persecuted for trying to live out their faith in a hostile world.
How does God expect us to handle rejection? Is it possible to experience that pain and yet maintain our confidence and peace? I believe the answer is found in examining the life of Christ.
Even nonbelievers typically recognize the important role Jesus played in history. Yet to many of His contemporaries, He was just a carpenter’s son from the country town of Galilee. Like all young men from good Jewish families, Jesus had been schooled in the faith as a boy. However, He hadn’t been groomed to be a rabbi, so in human terms, He didn’t have the most prestigious religious education. Although some saw His miracles and declared Him a prophet, others dismissed Christ’s teachings as uneducated or heretical. Who was he—a man—to claim to be God? they thought.
That didn’t stop Jesus from challenging the religious leaders and their man-made traditions. He cleverly disarmed their arguments against His teaching. Jesus attacked the profitable animal-selling business they had set up in the temple. He stood silently and peacefully while He was accused and sentenced to crucifixion.
Why was our Savior able to display such confidence and inner strength? I believe it’s because He never forgot who He was—God Himself. Jesus never forgot where He was headed—back to heaven. Our Lord never forgot whom He was aiming to please—His heavenly Father, not people here on earth.
But Jesus is more than a man; He’s one in essence with God Himself. Is it reasonable for us, as mere humans, to find our security in the Creator’s opinion of us as Christ did? Yes, although we will do so imperfectly. Our Helper, the Holy Spirit, can give us the power to look past the disapproval of man and see the affirmation of our heavenly Father. He teaches us to find our identity as children of God when others leave us feeling small and insignificant. The Spirit reminds us that in light of eternity, we are here for only a short time.
In the grand design of eternity, it won’t matter if people excluded us from their clique, disapproved of us, or mocked us for believing in an invisible God. What will matter is whether or not we lived obediently. When rejection feels more tangible than the affirmation of our loving, powerful God, we must choose to focus on what our Creator says about our worth.
The truth is, if you have accepted Christ’s death as payment for your sin and yielded your life to His leadership, you are fully accepted by God. You are 100 percent pleasing to Him. Even if people don’t seek your friendship, the Lord Himself awaits one-on-one time with you. Even if you remain single or your marriage grows stagnant, you are beloved by God. Even if no one else sees you as significant, He calls you part of “a royal priesthood. ” (See Rom. 10:9-10; Col. 1:22; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 13:5; 1 Peter 2:9.)
In the years since elementary school, I’ve come a long way in knowing how to relate to people. Yet, I still get left out or overlooked occasionally. Even now, rejection can reduce me to tears, prompt me to question my self-worth and abilities, and hinder me from pursuing certain friendships.
But it also causes me to seek the face of the Lord with more fervor. Sooner or later, I remind myself that I am God’s precious daughter. When I draw near to Him, even in the midst of a busy day, I sense His comforting presence. Others may belittle or ignore me, but nothing that I do for the Lord goes unnoticed in heaven. No matter how unloved I may feel, my Savior never abandons me.
You, too, hold a special place in God’s heart. So don’t let rejection dictate how you feel about yourself. The Maker of the universe delights in you, His beloved child.