Do you know what it’s like to feel rejection? I have a feeling many people know about that. Perhaps growing up in a family where you were not accepted, or you felt let down by a parent.
The late great actor Laurence Olivier, who had 14 Oscar nominations and received Best Actor for the 1948 film Hamlet, once spoke of that pain. He said, “I have always thought that the initial trouble between me and my father was that he couldn’t see the slightest purpose in my existence.”
I guess tragedy is the word that comes to mind in sharing that story. How terrible to know that your father rejected you or couldn’t care for you. We all know to varying degrees what it is like to be rejected and feel unloved. Perhaps you have been rejected by a family member—or were rejected in school or in the workplace. Sometimes we bear scars that no one else can see—scars of disappointment and pain.
We can even come from solid families and still feel a sense of rejection. Maybe everything is going well for you today and yet inside of you there is a little child that feels unloved. You don’t even know why you feel this way. But still, unspoken feelings of rejection haunt you.
We Experience Rejection in Many Ways
Pretty much all of us have experienced rejection at one time or another. It may have been something very minor or it may have been so devastating that it affected your whole life and all of your relationships. Here are some common examples—you were:
- not chosen to play on a sports team
- teased during your school years
- publicly humiliated
- not given a job you applied for
- laid off from your job for no good reason.
Some even more painful examples include:
- knowing you were an unwanted child
- growing up without ever feeling love from one or both of your parents
- growing up in a home where your parents divorced
- being the object of abuse (verbal, physical or even sexual)
- having a brother or sister favoured above you
- feeling the pain of a divorce and the rejection of someone you thought would be a lifelong partner.
Experiences such as these can be very hurtful and can tend to leave wounds in your heart, whether you are aware of them or not. You feel rejected. You feel crushed.
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Many who have strong feelings of rejection can’t receive or communicate love. A person who has never experienced being loved cannot give love. The Bible says it this way: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). There can be feelings of loneliness, self-pity, misery, depression, despair, hopelessness and even suicide.
We end up building walls around ourselves keeping others out—these are people who feel safer when they are alone. They might feel that being alone is better than being around people, where they take the chance of being hurt and rejected. While others fight back and express their feelings in resentment, hatred or rebellion.
Jesus Also Suffered Rejection
But I like what the Bible says in 1 John 3:1: “Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much He lets us be called his children, as we truly are.” That means we are significant to God, greatly loved and cherished. Jesus came to die on the cross for us each—so great was the love of God. His great desire is to heal us from past hurts caused by rejection. Jesus said one day, “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to Me and I will give you rest”.
Jesus himself knew what it was like to be rejected—Jesus willingly gave up all that he knew and came to earth live as a humble servant (Philippians 2:5-8). And as a humble servant he did many loving things. He fed the hungry, healed the sick and made dead people alive again (Matthew 9:35). However, many people rejected Jesus.
They rejected his teachings and rejected him as God’s Son. These people hated Jesus so much that they conspired to put him to death on a cross. He suffered—he was beaten and bruised, nailed to a cross and then died. Why? If he was God’s Son, why did God allow this to happen? Well, the reason is you—you were the reason.
Because we have sinned and fallen short of a relationship with God and the way he intended it to be in the beginning. God provided a way through his Son Jesus and his death so we might have that relationship with him again in a new way. Because of Christ’s death you can be forgiven and live as a friend to God.
Jesus died for you because he loves you. “Here is how God has shown His love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He was rejected so we could be accepted. And that’s the wonderful message of Christianity.
(Read How to Handle Rejection – Part 2)