daily Broadcast

Overcoming Rejection, Part 1

From the series Unstuck

Rejection. No one is immune to it. Everyone will experience it to some degree. And no matter who you are, your life is changed because of it. The question is, will rejection take you down or will you leverage it for good in your life? Chip explains that the choice is up to you, and shows you how to get started.

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Message Transcript

What comes to your mind, what people, what circumstances, what painful memory when you hear: Dropped, discarded, pushed away, shoved aside, spurned, jilted, brushed off, excluded, not invited, disinherited, fired, broke up, abused, neglected, abandoned, ignored, dismissed, kicked in the teeth, replaced, forsaken, betrayed.

Everybody has some situations like that and what I will tell you is that you are, today, in significant measure a result of the rejection of your past. We all experience rejection, those words everyone in this room, some of those words you have experienced, some people have experienced them in traumatic, horrendous ways, other people in significantly deep ways.

And the tragedy is when we experience rejection there is a pattern that occurs that whatever we experience we just pass on to the people around us. We pass it on, especially to our children. Consciously and unconsciously.

On the front of your notes I put, “The rejection syndrome,” if you are interested in more information on this a fellow named Charles R. Solomon wrote a book called The Rejection Syndrome. You can Google His name. It’s Solomon just like King Solomon.

And he’s written a number of books on the topic. But He says, “Here is the message we hear. At the core of rejection is this message: You don’t measure up. Either you’re not tall enough, you’re not strong enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not smart enough. Verbally or non-verbally a message you got was, ‘You don’t measure up.’ You’re too tall, you’re a loser, you’re a mistake, you were an accident, we don’t want you.”

The belief system, then, creates “I’m bad, I’m inferior, I’m unwanted, I’m unworthy of love.” So that becomes the filter. So, for some of us we try and prove that’s not true and for others we just live out thinking it is true.

And, by the way, when you believe that, it’s hard to receive love. This is a bizarre, bizarre type thing - people who don’t believe they’re lovable, when you try and love them they kind of shut you down, and so, guess what? They put up walls - and you know what people feel like when you try and love someone and they put up a wall? What happens to them? They feel rejected.

So, the very thing we don’t even want to pass on, we do.

The beliefs we embrace, then, create the pain that we feel of isolation, abandonment, self-doubt, and self-hatred. And since those are too painful to deal with, most of us have games that we play. Some of us go into denial, withdrawal, compensation, manipulation, we attack, we pretend. I mean, all of us do those… or a combination of them.

Our first parents blamed, “Adam! Did you eat from the tree?” “It was her!” Right? Some people just blame God. That’s what Eve did. “Who made this place? I don’t know where that serpent come from. I don’t know, I was just here.” And so, then the message that we send, often unintentionally, to other people is, “You don’t measure up.”

In our weird psyche, there is something about, depending on your personality and your background, there is something about then, comparing yourself with other people and so if you can push other people down, even mentally or in your judgment or in your words, in some perverse way, it makes you, and makes me, feel like we’re “better than.”

And so, we compare ourselves with people all the time. And we put them down and if they look different on the outside, or come from a different background, or believe a little bit differently… so we are constantly communicating rejection of other people that’s rooted in this inferiority, and insecurity, and issues - so that the only way for some of us is we try and control everything and everyone, to give us this artificial sense of safety.

And we’re very perfectionistic because the big world you can’t control, and you can’t control what’s going on inside, so you just try and find some things you can control.

And so, the rejection syndrome keeps going on, and on, and on, and the definition of rejection, if you’re just wondering, Webster says, “It’s to throw out as worthless, useless, sub-standard, to pass over, to skip, to rebuff, especially to deny the acceptance or care or love of someone.”

But, you know what? Even just Webster’s, you read that, isn’t that depressing? I mean, useless, sub-standard. Now, I’m going to tell you that most of us are sophisticated enough, and our denial levels are so strong that a lot of us have pushed those feelings down so deep, you don’t even realize that some of your behaviors and patterns are rooted in that.

Charles R. Solomon, I like his very quick definition of rejection. “It’s the absence of meaningful love.” When you don’t feel deeply loved.

Now I want to do a little research and I won’t spend too much time on this but I want to evaluate rejection. There are two types: There is overt rejection, in other words, it’s very clear, it really comes at you. And then there is covert rejection. It’s under the water system.

Overt rejection is just willful, known abuse – verbal, emotional, or physical. Some of you have been there. The covert is unintentional rejection that’s emotionally perceived but not intellectually comprehended.

We reject a lot of people and we have been rejected by people. They didn’t mean it at all. I mean, they weren’t trying to reject us. Let me give you some examples how we do that.

Physical isolation, I’m reading a book, in fact, I just finished, called Unbroken. And it’s the story of a World War II man that was in concentration camp after concentration camp. It’s a powerful, powerful book.

But in it, it talks about the personal isolation that they put prisoners in to, literally, break their spirit, to make them feel unworthy, and the way they treated them in ways to get them where they loathed themselves.

Another kind is an absent parent through war, divorce, death. Overprotection - some of us, we swing, we experience this, so as a parent we swing either the total opposite direction, “We don’t want to give our kids what we got,” or unconsciously, we do exactly what our parents did to us.

So, some people out of these loving, loving feelings they overprotect, overprotect, “Be careful, honey,” and so you do too much for them. You know what you communicate when you do everything for your kid or for someone else? What you’re saying is, “You’re dumb, you’re incapable, you can’t do it so I have to do it for you.” Now, the words they hear are, “I love you, I love you, I love you, I take care of you.” The emotions they feel are, “I don’t measure up.” Now, spoiling is just a synonym for rejection. When you make all the decisions for people, when you give them everything basically you’re unconsciously saying, “You’re helpless, you’re inept, you have no self-worth. I have to bribe you to do everything. You always have to get your way all the time.” It creates people with no self-respect, and no discipline, and no self-worth.

And then probably the most common you can put a little star by this one is performance-based love. This is probably the most common of all. This is, “I love you if and I love you because.” I love you if you get good grades, I love you if you do the right thing at the right time, I love you if you’re a good athlete, I love you if you have good SAT scores, I love you if you’re affectionate with me, I love you because you gave me that, I love you because you came from a good family, I love you because you provided a great house, I love you if, I love you because…”

Performance, performance, performance. Many of us, especially in our tradition of loving God, tend to think that even that’s how we earn God’s favor. God loves me when I have a quiet time, God loves me when I give ten percent, He loves me more when I give eleven, twelve, fifteen. Right? God loves me when I serve - He loves me more. God loves me when I go on a short-term missions trip. God loves me when I’m…

I got news for you. He loves you whether you do any of that or not. His love isn’t based on your performance. Those things are simply - part of them are disciplines and conduits of grace to get to know and experience how much He loves you - and the others are out of a heart of gratitude and love, to love other people, not have a score card with God. Performance-based love.

The behavioral impact of either overt or covert rejection is that when we’ve been rejected we will find ourselves rejecting others in the same way.

Now at the extreme level what do we know? Abusers are people who have been abused. You do all the research. Whether it’s emotional, sexual, physical abuse. There is loathing, “I wish I had never done it.” But kids that were abused often, unless they break the cycle, will abuse their kids.

Most of us it’s in lower key ways we experience rejection in some ways and if you don’t see it, own it, recognize it, you’ll pass it on. The emotional impact is feelings of worthlessness, wishing you hadn’t been born, feelings of inferiority, fear of expressing your feelings. Many people are depressed because of rejection.

Most of depression is anger turned inward and pushed down. Emotional insulation. You put up walls, you don’t let people in, overly introspective. People who apologize all the time, “Oh I’m sorry. It’s just…” There is this sense, that’s the emotional payback of rejection.

Perfectionism. This, “Boy, I’ve got to do everything just right,” because, see, your performance is so important and your performance and you have gotten so intermeshed that if you don’t do everything right, if you don’t excel all the time, if the house isn’t always clean, if the report isn’t great, if you aren’t just, just, just, just…

Well, then they’re rejecting you instead of just, that’s just what you do. And people are human, and people make mistakes, and everyone doesn’t get everything on time, perfect all the time.

But for some people there is a drive, an invisible demand that actually ruins your life and makes the people around you crazy. It means your kids have to excel all the time and there is push, push, push, push, push. I mean, two-year-olds playing soccer I want to go, “Are you kidding me?”

At this point you may be wondering, “Is there any hope? Can the cycle of rejection be broken?” And what I want to say, emphatically, is yes, yes, yes, and we’re going to do more than just look at it.  At this point, we could be in a seminar about rejection, and then I could teach you five or six techniques to deal with your rejection.

Here’s how you need to think, here’s “I feel” messages that you can say to people when you feel rejected, and we could go into lots of pop psychology. And some of those techniques actually are very helpful if all you want to do is treat the symptoms.

At the core of emotional, psychological, and soul-rejection is a spiritual issue. And the spiritual issue is until you are right with God, until you understand that you are loved apart from however anyone has ever treated you, or whatever is going on inside, then all the rest of that will never fall in place.

And so, what we’re going to learn now, from verses 7 through about 14, is that you are the object of the King of kings’ - and the Lord of lords and the Maker and Creator of all that there is - affection.

And He has expressed that affection in Christ. In fact, the theme of Ephesians chapter 1, Ephesians chapter 2, and Ephesians chapter 3 is just two words. It’s “In Him,” or “In Christ.”

And often what I do is, I did this recently, I take a big fish tank, a pail of water like this, and I get a big bolt that’s about this big so they can really see it on the screen. And then I have a board that’s about this big and on the board, I have a cross.

And then I have a thick rubber band about like this. And then here is the illustration I use because I want you to get this. If you get this then what we’re going to teach is going to make a lot of sense.

And I hold up the bolt and I say, “This is a big bolt that’s very heavy.” And, you know, you can see it. It’s a huge thing. And I say, “If I drop this in this water, what will happen?” “It will sink.” In which I say, “Fantastic. You’re right.” And then I take this, I take this piece of wood.  it’s about like this and I say, “If I drop this piece of wood in this clear tank, what will it do?” And again, being the intellects that we are there they say, “It will float.”

And I say, “Well why will it float? What’s the nature of wood?” Well why, why does the bolt drop? Because it’s the nature of the bolt. It’s the weight that it has.

And then what I say is I said, “Here’s what Ephesians chapters 1, 2, and 3 is trying to help us understand. It is that this is Christ and He has overcome and He floats because it’s in His nature. He died, He rose again, He has conquered sin, He has conquered death, He has conquered the devil.

This is you and then I take the bolt and I take the big rubber band around it. And I say, “When you trusted in Christ as your Savior,” Romans 6, “you died with Him.” Romans 6, you were co-resurrected with Him that you might walk in newness of life.

Romans chapter 7 is there will always be a challenge and a battle between the flesh and the spirit so it will be a struggle this side of heaven. And Romans 8 is no one can live the Christian life. Only the Spirit of God, as you abide in Him, thanks be to God, there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. But the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you and cries, “Abba Father.”

And so, here’s what I want you to know is that now you’re seated with Him in the heavenly places. So, when I drop this in the fish tank, and I say, “Now tell me what’s happening to the bolt? It’s floating.” Why? Is it because it’s trying hard? Is it because it goes to a lot of meetings? Is it because it reads two chapters a day to keep the devil away?

It’s floating because it is in union with the nature of the wood. And now everything that’s true of the wood is true of the bolt. And what the apostle Paul says, for three chapters, is you are in Christ and then He explains what that means.

In fact, after his little verse 3, that you have every spiritual blessing, literally verses 2 through 14 is one long sentence that literally, he just goes off with all these theological words.

And so what I want you to see is the key to your journey is to believe and to trust both intellectually and then down in your heart what it means to be in Christ and then of seeking to earn God’s favor, or earn God’s love, or please people – I already have God’s love, I have God’s acceptance, I have an inheritance, I have His Spirit, I’m adopted as His child.

Now, how do I live - And then, how to I begin to express that to other people, without wanting things back, because I’ve already got the acceptance from Him? Does that make sense?

That’s a very different picture from the mental, emotional, and psychological picture that most people live as the Christian life.

Unconsciously, most of us are still trying to please God, earn God’s favor. And we feel good when we have our quiet time, read our Bible, and aren’t messing and struggling with those besetting sins and we feel really bad.

And it’s, “Try hard, try hard, fail. Try hard, try hard, fake it.” And that’s why we have the Barna research and that’s why we have the Gallup research that says about eight out of every ten Christians who claim they’re born again, or in some studies nine out of ten, they say they believe this, they say, “I have received Jesus,” and their life and their lifestyle says the opposite story.

Jesus has become, in America, the self-help guru, that in the name of Jesus, will give you this wonderful life, this amazing marriage, and you just, here’s the formula: Read the Bible, pray, feel good, get jacked up once a week with someone going, “Everything is going to be okay.”

That’s not New Testament Christianity. And, by the way, it doesn’t work. And that’s why you have disillusioned Christians with their hands on their hips saying, “Hey, God, I did, I did the deal. How come my wife got cancer? I did the deal, how come my kids didn’t turn out right?