“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Isaiah 53:3 NIV
Growing up in an alcoholic home, I developed a coping mechanism for dealing with rejection. Since acceptance seemed to be based on my performance, I would simply aim for perfection, thus ensuring the acceptance of others. Well, that was easier said than done.
The need for acceptance and fear of rejection kept me from taking chances. It made for very small dreams, for the risk of failure was not one I was willing to take. I needed the assurance that if I stepped out, I would succeed.
I gave up on ice skating, gymnastics, piano, cheerleading, foreign languages, college, all because I felt like a failure as I was forced to work harder to accomplish a tenth of what came to others naturally. I stayed in the area of my comfort zone, those things I could be successful at with little or no effort. And that worked for a while, until it didn't.
Becoming a mother is by far the biggest risk we take in our lifetimes. I foolishly stepped into motherhood believing that if I lavished enough love on my children and offered them the security of acceptance, they would grow up never wanting to stray or turn their back on the values their father and I held dear. They would never reject us or our faith. But then, one day they did.
And all that pain of rejection came flooding back in. I wanted to run back to the comfort of the safety net I had so cleverly crafted for myself, but it was too late. That safety net hadn't survived life in the real world. I was now living with a rejection that I believed would break me.
Then, I remembered this verse that spoke of Christ's rejection. He lived a perfect life and still he faced rejection. Not just rejection but cruel rejection. Knowing in advance what He would have to experience, still, He stepped into this world and faced it fearlessly head on. As I contemplated his life, I realized that striving for perfection would not protect me from rejection, but it would burn me out.
Living this life means living with rejection. Rejection from friends, classmates, coworkers, siblings, and even our children. That rejection seems to cut the deepest because it screams at us that we took the risk and we failed. As mothers of prodigals, we can't help but blame ourselves. Even their rejection is our fault.
We will each face rejection at some point in our lives. Within its threads, necessary life lessons are woven. Lessons on accepting others and ourselves even when we are disappointed. Lessons on grace, on letting go of perfectionism. Lessons on accepting others and ourselves, just as they are, as we are, even if there is no guarantee of change.
Living with rejection means we learn to let go of our expectations of others. Maybe they will come to their senses and see things the right way. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they will stop rejecting our ways, our God, and maybe they won’t. Maybe they will forgive us and ask for forgiveness from us, and maybe they won’t.
Jesus endured rejection because of the promise of joy set before him. He led by example how we are to we face rejection and the pain caused us by others. He understood that the lessons we would learn in the places of rejection had the power to make us better. Living with rejection, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, can transform us once again into risk-takers. With the realization that there are no guarantees in life, we have two choices. Give up and crawl back into the corner or commit to living this life all-in.
Fear won't hold us back; rejection can't stop us. We are on a mission to stay transfixed on the One who faced the ultimate rejection and did so victoriously. We are able to dream big dreams again and take chances because we identify with the One who holds our future. And He holds the future of the ones we love.
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV
May you fearlessly face rejection on this journey as you hold tightly to your Lord who promises to be there with you every step of the way until someday you are reunited with your wayward loved ones.