Today we are going to discover the “Nature and Causes of Rejection”. Derek said of rejection that it’s “the deepest wound a human spirit ever has to endure.” If rejection is something you deal with in your life, don’t miss any of these sessions!
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you keys to successful living which God has placed in my hand through many years of personal experience and Christian ministry.
This week I’m going to be speaking about what I believe to be the deepest wound that the human spirit ever has to endure, the wound of rejection. I’m going to share with you the good news that this wound can be healed.
But first, let me say thank you to those of you who’ve been writing to me. Before I finish this talk, we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. It means a great deal to me to hear how this radio ministry of mine has been helping you and blessing you so please take time to write even if its only a brief note.
Now to return to our theme for this week, the wound of rejection and how it can be healed.
Probably I’d better begin with some kind of a definition. What do I mean by rejection? I’m talking about something in the emotions and in the heart, an attitude, a kind of relationship, or perhaps a failure to relate. One of the best ways to understand the meaning of a word is to consider what it’s opposites are. Rejection has one obvious specific opposite and that is “acceptance.” So you could define rejection that way, as the opposite of acceptance. Or you could choose a number of synonyms, a number of different words or phrases with similar meaning and perhaps some of the commonest and most obvious would be these: the feeling of being unwanted, excluded, worthless, not really belonging, somehow on the outside looking in, but never knowing how to get on the inside.
That’s the kind of attitude, the kind of inner experience and feeling that I have in mind. And in my many years of experience in the ministry I’ve discovered that this is probably the most common and the deepest wound that human hearts experience. Particularly in our contemporary American culture there are uncounted millions of people who have this problem of rejection and doubtless there are many who hear this message who will begin to identify there problem.
Let me say one thing, the best way to face the problem is to recognize it. If you refuse to face it, you can never solve it. But if you’ll face it and accept God’s remedy, you can solve this problem. I’ve dealt with many, many people who have successfully overcome the problem of rejection. And you can be one of those people. In the prophet Isaiah there’s a very vivid picture of what rejection’s really like.
The Lord is speaking to His people Israel, but He’s speaking to them in the terms of being their husband and He addresses them as a wife who’s been rejected by her husband. A situation which is familiar, distressingly familiar, to millions of women in the United States today. This is what the Lord says, Isaiah 54 verses 4 through 6:
“‘Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your Husband, the Lord Almighty is his name, the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit, a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God.” (NIV)
The picture comes to it’s climax there in it’s last verse. The picture of a wife deserted, distressed in spirit. A wife who married young only to be rejected. sometimes its the other way around. sometimes its the wife who rejects the husband and though we regard men as somehow being stronger than women, I know from many, many cases I’ve dealt with that a man who feels rejected by his wife can suffer inexpressible agony. I was speaking to such a man just less than 48 hours ago. He laid bare his heart to me and I realized the deep inner hurt that he was experiencing. In some ways perhaps its worse for a man to experience that kind of hurt, because being a man he feels ashamed of it. This vivid picture in Isaiah picks out two things that are commonly associated with rejection. The Lord says through Isaiah, “You will not suffer shame. You will not be humiliated.” Those are two things that commonly go especially with marital rejection: shame and humiliation. To have given yourself without reservation to another person, to have poured out your love upon them, to have made yourself available to them and then to discover that they have rejected you, very often brings even open shave and humiliation in it’s train. Those are the external associations, but the internal association is what Isaiah calls “a crushed spirit.” Other versions use the phrase “a wounded spirit” or “a broken spirit.” Now that’s something that I’ve learned to recognize and to deal with.
In Proverbs 18 verse 14 the Scripture says:
“A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit, who can bear?” (NIV)
And in Proverbs 15:13:
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache cures the spirit.” (NIV)
You see, wounds in the spirit are difficult to define, difficult to diagnose. They go to a level deeper than the human mind or the human memory. Many people carry wounds in their spirit that they’re not actually conscious of. They’ve covered them over. Their mind won’t face them. Their memory doesn’t recall them, but they’re there deep down in that innermost area of man which is called the spirit. Often they go back many, many years to childhood or to experiences in early youth and the mind refuses to face them, but they remain an objective fact. They’re there. And I believe the commonest cause of a wounded spirit is rejection.
What causes rejection? Well, we’ve dealt with one common cause already in Isaiah’s picture of the rejected wife and we’ve pointed out that sometimes rejection is by the wife of the husband. However, I believe there’s one cause which is even more common and that is lack of love from one or both parents in childhood. See God has created a human being with an insatiable desire to be loved and to feel loved and my conviction is every child that’s ever been born has been with that longing for love and love that’s expressed. You see inexpressed love doesn’t meet that need. Particularly it’s my conviction, based on experience, that every child particularly longs for the love of a father and that it’s the love of a father that gives real security. And children that have not grown up knowing the expressed love of a father grow up insecure and many times with that wound of rejection.
There are perhaps three main situations that can bring this wound about. First of all a child who’s unwanted during pregnancy. The mother is carrying a child in her womb she really doesn’t want. She may not express it, but the attitude is there. I discovered an amazing thing once in ministering to people, that people in a certain age group belonging to a certain generation seemed to have this problem very commonly. And when I traced it back I discovered that they were children born during the Great Depression and I began to understand that the mother had so many mouths to feed she couldn’t bear the thought of all that struggle with one more child and her inner attitude produced in that child, before it ever came forth out of the womb, this wound of rejection. And then I’ve spoken somewhat about the second main case, a child who does not receive manifested love from the parents, expressed love, warm love, affection. I think there’s a kind of bumper sticker we see around that says, “Did you hug your child today?” That’s a good question. An unhugged child tends to become a rejected child.
And then there’s another situation where there’s more than one child in a family, but one child receives an unfair measure of love and attention. And another child, just by comparing himself or herself with that particularly favored child, feels rejected.
I remember a story about a mother who had two daughters. And she, without knowing it, she favored one above the other. And one day she heard a sound in the room and she thought that it was the daughter she particularly love so she called out, “Are you there, darling?” The voice replied of the other daughter, “No it’s only me.” And then the mother realized the impact that her favor of the one daughter had left on the other. She repented and sought to make up for what that attitude had brought. So you see these wounds can go back a long, long way right into childhood.
Nor our time is up for today, but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time.
Tomorrow I’ll continue this theme of rejection. I’ll be speaking about the results of rejection. How we may recognize this problem in ourselves and in others.