When I was born, I experienced rejection. I was to be the third child of the family. The previous two were boys, and my mother wanted a girl. When I was born, she asked the doctor, “What is it?” The doctor hesitated, knowing my mother’s desire for a girl, then simply said, “I would rather not say.” “Take him away. I don’t want him,” was my mother’s response. At that crucial moment of birth, I was rejected.
Expecting a girl, they had no boy’s name picked out. So as friends and family made suggestions, they put all the names in a hat and drew out the name Alan. A great way to get a name. My middle name is McGregor, my mother’s maiden name and a reminder of my Scottish heritage.
All through my life, I was reminded that I was supposed to be the girl of the family. It was a story that continually came up at family gatherings. I was shy, lacked confidence, and had a poor self-image. I lived under a spirit of rejection for 36 years until I receive prayer by a lady, her husband, together with Dorothy, my wife, in a God-ordained encounter in a hotel room in Seattle, Washington, in 1971. My complete story of rejection is told in ‘Called Together,’ a book by Dorothy Langstaff. It is out of that experience I discovered the steps to overcoming rejection. But first, let’s recognize the results of rejection.
THE RESULTS OF REJECTION
- Emotional immaturity by thwarting emotional growth
- Creates an emotional vacuum which no person can fill
- Loneliness and fear
- Loss of self-identity
- Unstable up and down relationship with God
“Man is created in the image of God, and his basic needs are met through communicated love and acceptance. When rejection enters, the person is denied: Love, Security, Acceptance, Identity, and Recognition. These are the five basic needs of the soul. When these are cut off, a person cannot develop emotional security” (Carroll Thompson).
With all this in mind, let us consider how to be set free from rejection.
THE ANSWER TO REJECTION
ACCEPTANCE – Discover the acceptance you can have with God through Jesus Christ.
In Isaiah 53, we have the picture of the suffering servant Jesus bearing all our pain and sorrows. “surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, and by his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4 – 5)”. The first step to being set free from rejection is to see that Christ has suffered in our place on Calvary, and because of that, we are, as Paul declares in Ephesians 1:6, “He made us accepted in the beloved.” Remember on the cross, Jesus himself experience rejection. “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken in me” (Matthew 27:46). Separated from the Father, in the act of bearing our sins, Jesus experienced being forsaken and is now able to help us when we to0 experience rejection.
GRACE – Receive healing grace for the bruises of rejection.
Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Often that grace comes to us through the ministry of God’s servants. I remember talking to a wonderful friend and minister, Dick Mills, one Sunday night after church about rejection. He shared how he grew up in a home with an alcoholic father. He was abusive, and his rejection left emotional scars that impacted Dick’s life. He recalled how the ministry of others, including prophetic words spoken over him, enabled him to know that Father God had accepted him and had a plan for his life. He discovered the grace of God.
If you suffer from rejection, it is possible that you need the ministry of others to release God’s healing grace into your life.
ABBA FATHER – Discover that God is Abba Father.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we can cry out ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15-16). Many people have a poor image of God because of a broken relationship with their earthly father, as was in the case of Dick Mills. But the Father wants to reveal his love and compassion for you and for you to discover that God is your Abba Father.
NEW IMAGE – Discover a new image of yourself.
In Ephesians 1, there is the reoccurring phrase ‘In Him.’ We read over and over again who we are ‘In Him.’ We are blessed (v 3), chosen (v 4), loved (v 4), predestined (v 5), adopted (v 5), and redeemed (v 7), just to mention a little of all that we are in Him.
When I first was being set free from rejection, I came across a small booklet by Kenneth Hagan about ‘In Him,’ which I studied to help me build up a new self-image of who I was in Him.
FORGIVE – Forgive those who rejected you.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). When one is rejected, there is always the temptation to bear a grudge against the one who rejected you. This can grow into a spirit of bitterness that eats away at your own soul. You could have a grudge against the boss who fired you, the spouse who divorced you, the friend who betrayed you, and so on.
There is healing power in forgiveness when we forgive others who rejected us for whatever reason remembering that God has forgiven us far more than we are called upon to forgive others (See Matthew 18:21-35).
FAMILY – Become part of God’s family.
Psalm 68:6 reminds us that God sets the solitary (the individual) in family. It is part of the healing of rejection to find one’s place in a local fellowship of God’s people, where we can find acceptance with one another, and we can learn to love and accept others as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. That is what church is all about. It’s family-a place of love and acceptance.
A CLOSING STORY
Dr. Lester Sumrall was a great missionary evangelist, who ministered all over the world. He wrote a little book on rejection and used the story of the ugly duckling who later found out he was a swan as a picture of being set free. He wrote, “Maybe you can identify with the ugly duckling. Maybe you have gone through a time of rejection yourself. Perhaps you are still in it. If so, I want you to know there is hope – there’s a solution. I know there is because I have been through it myself.
At one time, I was the most unlovable person. As a boy growing up, I was wild – rebellious against my parents in constant conflict with my teachers. At school, I used the fire escape to come and go as I pleased. I knocked out windows with bricks and threw ink pots against the wall. I was the leader of a gang of tough kids. I led them to play hooky. I led them across town to fight other boys. I could have – and should have – been put in jail any number of times.
My own parents would whisper to one another, “One day, this boy will die in the electric chair.” Isn’t that an awful thing for parents to say about their own child? My parents saw in me all the potential for a criminal.
Then at the age of 16, I fell sick of tuberculosis. At 17, while on what seemed to be my deathbed, Jesus saved me. All that hurt was turned into love.
The people in the community where I grew up said, “How can this be?” Many of them said, “It Will never last. We know that boy.” But I did last. The ugly duckling became a swan.
I think the thing that made me so mean and rebellious was the feeling of rejection I felt in my home. I had two older brothers, both pastors. They would look down their nose at me and say, “You sure are a rascal!” Each time they accused me, I just got worse. I was determined to live up to the expectations. Nobody wants me, I thought. So, I just became a wanderer through the streets or anywhere I could go to get away from home.
I felt rejected until Jesus took me in His arms. Since then, I have found thousands of friends. Today I have such excitement and joy in living. My life is so exciting and happy that I could live forever here on this earth. I thoroughly enjoy living. I came to the end my rejection when I came to Jesus Christ.”