December 2012: Healing from the Wounds of Rejection
When a message of rejection is driven into the heart and allowed to infect the core beliefs, a man or woman can suffer for years with inner torment.
Here’s how it plays out:
Someone hurts us, by abuse, rejection, neglect, or abandonment; verbally or physically.
We bite hard onto the lie that “because this person didn’t love or value me, I must be scum.”
Every time we fail or make a mistake, or someone mistreats us, Satan reinforces the lie by whispering “See, you failed again. You’re a loser. You’ll never get it right.”
We get angry.
The emotional turmoil and pain are unbearable, so we look for a way to cope. Many shut their hearts down at this point.
Some medicate their pain with sex, drugs, alcohol, work-addiction, hobbies, family, or sports. Or ministry.
Others put massive expectations on their loved ones that they must resolve the pain in their heart. When this doesn’t happen (which is always the case), it reinforces the lie that they can’t be accepted as they are and they sink further into the cycle of depression, anger, and medicating pain the wrong way.
Now every perceived slight, real or imagined, sets us off. We’re a walking time bomb, ready to go off.
Our medication of choice is no longer fun, and only leaves us more miserable than before. Some take bigger risks and go for a more intense high, which only leaves them more empty, guilt-ridden, angry, and depressed.
Finally, it happens, and they hit rock bottom. Maybe their wife walks out the door, they lose their job, or they get in trouble with the law. The pain of the consequences is now more severe than the pain in their heart, and they’re finally willing to take a hard look in the mirror.
The way out is difficult. Now they have to fight a battle to break free from the addiction to their pseudo-medication, in addition to facing the wound in their heart. If they skim the top of the weed, only dealing with their sinful coping mechanisms while avoiding the heart issues, they remain vulnerable to repeated relapses.
The wound of rejection must be healed for lasting freedom, life, and joy.
Expect a battle if you want healing. The enemy will turn up the heat from every side: “You don’t want to go there… it’ll hurt too much. Do you really believe you’re anything but a piece of sewage? The love of God is for other people, not a screwup like you. Many have said you’re worthless and there’s no hope… can they really be wrong?”
Then there’s the concrete walls we’ve erected around our heart, complete with “Do Not Disturb” sign. You can usually tell guys like these because they’re great at preaching to others but rarely talk about their own fears, hurt, failures, or disappointments.
Let’s lay all the pieces out on the table.
1. Someone you loved, respected, or desperately needed hurt, rejected or abandoned you. Refuse to medicate this truth any longer. You were let down, and it was painful. Your heart has been empty and lonely for years, and you’re crying out for love and acceptance. If you’re seething in rage for what they did, own it. Talk this out with a trusted friend or counselor, and/or journal it out with God.
2. Now take a hard look at how you interpreted what happened; what you internalized about who you are. Ask for guidance and revelation from the Holy Spirit; this will be especially important. No Sunday school answers or quoting of scripture allowed here, that’s another way to avoid your pain.
Here are some lies that many buy into:
I can’t get it right.
I can’t please others.
I am worthless.
I am rejected.
I cannot be loved as I am.
There’s no hope.
I am dirty; soiled. No one would want me if they really knew how filthy I am.
I am ugly.
I deserve what happened to me; to be rejected.
God doesn’t love me.
Just because you’re a Christian and you know the Bible says God loves you and you’re a son or daughter of God, doesn’t mean you really believe it. What we believe and what we know can be two different things. What you believe drives your actions; if what you know doesn’t make it to your heart then you’ll be more prone to falling into sinful coping patterns.
Don’t hurry this step. God might reveal your wounds over a period of weeks, or even months. It might take talking it out with a trusted friend, or He might flush it out through solo time with Him. Or both.
Delving into your heart may bring sorrow. Don’t run from it. If you’ve experienced loss, allow yourself the space to grieve it. Jesus lamented the loss of relationship with the people of Israel (Luke 13:34), expressing how He yearned to “gather their children together.” Grieving is part of the healing process.
Now that you know the lies you’ve bought into, confess them to God and at least one friend. Then ask your friend to pray for you on a consistent basis that the Lord will open your heart up to the truth, which includes:
A. Although someone rejected you, God never does. Read 1 Corinthians 13 for a description of love, and replace “love is…” with “God is…” Knowing God’s character will be key to your recovery; the lies we buy into distort our perception of God, as do the continual assaults of the enemy. The influence of those closest to us has a major impact too. For example, if our parents were stern, angry, or abusive, we can struggle with seeing God as kind and patient.
Knowing God’s character is critical as it will bring you to the doorstep of healing. If you see God as cruel or rejecting chances are you will shy away from Him. If you believe that He is completely willing and able to heal you because He is loving, kind and patient (1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4), and wants you to know Him (Jeremiah 29:13), you will have hope for the love, true joy, and freedom you’ve been looking for.
B. God allowed you to be rejected. He gave you your parents; He put the person who molested you in your path; He gave you a husband who is a sex addict. He knew you would be abandoned, rejected, or neglected. This might upset you, but for healing to take place we must work through the entire truth. God allowed you to suffer. Are you angry at Him? No Sunday school answers allowed—we’re after what’s in your heart, not your head.
Let’s put suffering in perspective. In hindsight I can say that the Lord took every traumatic event in my life (I have been molested, held a son while he died, and lost a home to foreclosure, among other trials) and gave them meaning and purpose. He used it cleanse me of sin, teach me more about His faithfulness, care, and healing, and brought the fruit that comes from being able to relate to others who are hurting. I wouldn’t be writing to you now if it wasn’t for the trials in my life. God can redeem and give purpose to your pain, if you let Him. You will find joy and thank Him for the pain in your life because He’s revealed Himself to you when you allowed Him to open your heart and heal it.
Consider what your trials would be like without God. Without Him there is no hope, purpose, or meaning. I can’t imagine going through suffering without Him.
There is an element of danger here, because some will fade away from God in bitterness when they realize that He allowed their suffering, rejection, and pain. This happens when all we do is listen to Satan’s lies, instead of taking the time to discover the whole truth of who God is and how He tranforms our suffering into blessings. If you’re struggling with this, I suggest walking through the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-46, the books of Job, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, and the Gospels. Look especially at how God the Father allowed Jesus to suffer horribly, and the powerful, history changing outcome.
As you walk through this step, more lies may be revealed. Confess and renounce them.
C. He loves you. There are verses all over the Bible that bear witness to the love of God. Psalms 63 is one of my favorites. There is also Psalms 103, Ephesians 1, Romans 8, the book of 1 John, and many others. Just because a broken, selfish sinner told you that you were worthless, either in deed or word, or you failed miserably, does not mean it’s the truth. What God says in His word is The Truth; this must be the foundation that your heart is built on.
If you’ve been feeding on lies for years, it may take time for the truth to sink in to your heart. Your emotions may scream “no, it can’t be true!” while God’s Spirit gently whispers “yes, it is.” It’s what God says that is true that matters, not what you feel. If our feelings don’t line up with the truth it can be an indication that something is still off; a lie needs to be worked out, or a hurt resolved. Keep pressing in until the Lord provides a break-though.
Once you’re exposed the lies, confessed them, and replaced them with the truth, two steps remain.
Forgive anyone who hurt you, from your heart (Matthew 18:35).
If your heart is poisoned with bitterness, there can be no healing or peace. Forgiveness means writing the person who hurt you a full pardon and then resolving never to judge or hold what they did against them again. You might consider asking God for compassion for the other person to help you see them as He does. Doing so might make it easier to love and forgive them.
Thank the Lord for what happened to you.
Some of you just fell off your chair. “Why would I ever thank God for being rejected?” But thanking Him is a way of saying “God, Your will be done. I’m going to trust that you have a purpose for what happened to me and a plan for the future. Thank you for helping and healing me. Thank you for teaching me about Your faithfulness and Who You are. Thank You for exposing the lies and revealing the truth to me. I accept Your plan for my life.”
As time goes on and you heal, the enemy may come back and start attacking with his lies again. When this happens, go back to the truth, and stand on it. The enemy can’t take the truth away from you, or alter it. All he can do is try to convince you to buy into his lies.
In time you’ll be so rooted in the truth that the old lies have no way of gaining traction in your heart.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Last week I had lunch with a friend who is a professional Christian counselor. Part of his ministry is to help persons who struggle with homosexual sin and want to break free from it. He told me that there is an organization that is actively suing counselors who help persons break free from homosexual sin in order to intimidate them into quitting.
Last summer I heard a pastor say he expects it will be illegal in the U.S. to call homosexual acts sin in the near future. He also said he’s prepared to go to jail rather than compromise what God says in His word.
After what my counselor friend told me at lunch, this pastor’s words sound prophetic. The spiritual forces we’re fighting against just don’t want acceptance of sin; they want the power and control to make it blossom.
Dark clouds of depravity have been forming over the U.S. for years, and are gaining momentum. I don’t know that anything other than prayer and repentance will break them. Let’s spend more time on our knees for our country, asking for the cleansing rain of righteousness.
Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
On a Personal Note… In Case This is My Last Newsletter.
At the beginning of 2012, I felt like God was telling me to live this year as if it would be my last. Note that I don’t think He was saying it would be my last, but to live like it. I started making changes in my life that included making preparations so that if I were to die, my family would be taken care of. I also did a few things with my family that I hadn’t for a long time, like take a vacation.
In the early summer, a friend told me about John Bevere’s book Driven by Eternity, which I highly recommend. Bevere writes that many Christians are wasting their life by not focusing on making deposits in their eternal bank account, i.e. investing their time and resources in the things that count for eternity. He also wrote that many who think they are Christians will wake up on the wrong side of eternity because they never made Jesus the Lord of their life. Francis Chan hits a similar note in Crazy Love, even going so far as to say that many people in church in the U.S. are not saved.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was told about Driven by Eternity after God gave me the theme of living this year like it would be my last. I have to confess there have been plenty of instances where I haven’t lived up to this call and have wasted time and resources, either from apathy, being tired, or selfishness.
I’ve made other changes. I’ve tried to prioritize my life according to God’s word. My conviction is stronger than ever that loving God must come first, and loving my wife must come second. Nothing comes before my relationship with my wife except for God. He calls us to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and to me that’s a step above the 2nd greatest commandment to “love my neighbor as myself.” As a result my relationship with Michelle is fantastic. We click like never before, and I’m so thankful to the Lord for the gift He’s given to me in her.
I’ve also been talking to my kids more about the dangers of the lies of the culture they will face. Statistics show that 70%-80% of youth leave the church by the time they’re 18, and I want my kids to beat the odds. We pray together as a family most nights. Although I still feel like I have a lot of room for improvement as a father, we’re heading in the right direction. Four of us serve together at our church once a month, and we’re doing a ministry project together later in December. I want my kids to see Michelle and I making an effort to live for eternity, not just talk about it.
As I get older I become more convinced that the American dream is a lie. Get a good job, have a nice house and other stuff, save up, retire in your sixties, then play and live off the government for the next 15-20 years until you die. When I compare this to Scripture I see God using His people well into their final years. Moses, Daniel, the Apostle John, and Paul were all men who God used until death. The culture is telling people a lie that their final years should be about self-indulgence and uselessness, when they can be pouring spiritual funds into their eternal bank accounts.
As Driven by Eternity points out, we will ALL appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10); there will be many who mourn because of the way they wasted the one life they were given for all of eternity. There are no second chances.
Don’t waste your life.
If you’re playing with sexual sin and/or are in bondage to it, realize that you don’t know how much longer you have to live. Don’t play games with lust; do what you know God is calling you to do, now, to break free. Do you really want to masturbate to porn up until the time of your death? There are plenty of men sinning this way in their 50’s and 60s; it’s not uncommon.
If you’re married and have children and are chanting that “God, family and others” are your priorities but your wife or kids would say there’s no way you’re living this out, stop and re-align your life. I’ve been one who has said my priorities were God’s way, but they were really about “me, me, and whoever can do something for me.” Make sure that your actions line up with your talk.
If you say you love God but never or rarely spend substantial time with Him where you connect with and hear from Him, do whatever it takes to draw near to Him. This is the primary relationship in life and demands our best. If it’s been a long time since you’ve gotten away, alone, without electronic gadgets, to spend time with God for 24 hours at a Christian retreat, I can’t encourage you enough to do so. I always come away feeling closer to God, newly energized and incredibly blessed when I do this.
The Destructive Force of Adultery
Winning the War in the Mind
November 2012: A Look at Grace
October 2012: When Someone Shares their Sin
September 2012: Willpower Doesn’t Work
August 2012: Look Who’s One of the Porn Industry’s Biggest Customers
July 2012: For Those Who are Control Freaks (and Don’t Want to Be)
June 2012: Blazing Grace on a Sunday Morning
May 2012: Why We Need Suffering
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. “But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Blazing Grace’s purpose is to minister to the sexually broken and equip the church to effectively deal with the porn epidemic.
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May God’s grace abound to you.
All material copyright 2012 Mike Genung