Rejection. What an awful word. The pain of rejection is deeply emotional and personal and yet also universal. But even though everyone can relate to the shame of being shunned, rejection can lead to persistent struggles with trust and self-concept. Left unresolved and unforgiven, the ache of rejection can turn to bitterness and damage your capacity for future healthy relationships.
It’s a big deal.
Rejection is one of those words probably best unpacked with a counselor or a trusted friend, a spouse, a mentor, or several forays into a prayer journal. It could have roots in your earliest memories or be as fresh as last week. It could be tied to parent-wounds, broken romances, or the ugliest of high school drama. It could be affecting your career path, your job performance, your willingness to volunteer, and even your own home life.
And like everything else, Jesus can help. This week my husband pointed out something beautiful to me. He was looking for what Jesus could teach us about friendship and he simultaneously found something Jesus can teach us about rejection.
“Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him” (Matthew 26:48-50).
Friend, do what you came to do. Betray me. Arrest me. Kill me. Reject me. Do it quickly, Friend.
Jesus was despised and rejected. He understands. Whatever the extent of your shame, fear, or anguish as a result of your rejection and betrayal, He understands. He empathizes with you. He cares. He knows exactly how much it hurts.
And he also shows us the way forward. The way out. If you want that.
(There’s plenty of times we actually want to stay in the pit. I get that too. But that’s not God’s best for us).
Jesus has a better way.
Mercy. Forgiveness even. Friendship even.
He called Judas “friend.” I’m just about undone at the thought of that. Do you see His heart? So kind and gracious and for us. For all of us. The best of us. The worst of us.The I-screwed-up-yet-again of us. The kiss-you-on-the-cheek-while-stabbing-you-in-the-back of us.
He’s just unbelievably secure and tough. And sweet and kind. What a friend we have in Jesus.
So, whether you are personally feeling the persistent sting of rejection or trying to help a loved one (or worse–a child) through this torment, it’s a privilege to practice the ways of Jesus. May you have His grace in abundance.