Have you ever had someone in the “I would do anything for you” category, only to realize that you’re in their “I’ll see you when I see you” category?
And all of a sudden you’re transported back to that little girl in middle school, staring the coolest kids in your grade who seem to be made of gold–wishing, dreaming, and praying to find a way to get them to adore you as much as you adore them.
You shake yourself out of the silly daydream, brushing off the ridiculous emotions because you’re now an adult, and juvenile feelings of that nature should be long gone. You’ve somehow convinced yourself that grown-ups should never experience the stinging pangs of middle school rejection, and when those jabs come (and oh yes, they come), you’re an idiot for having them.
Let me tell you, I’m 35 years old and have felt some of the most painful jabs of rejection I’ve ever experienced in recent seasons. In fact, the older you get and the deeper your relationships become, when someone decides they don’t want you as a close friend anymore, it’s way more life-altering than losing your place at the cool kid table in middle school. But because I’m 35 and love listening to the Counselor, I sure know how to navigate myself much faster out of the harbors of pain, pillow crying, and sulking into the promises of peace, joy, and acceptance from my Father.
I’m not perfect at it, but I’m getting better.
Here’s a few tips I’ve learned along the road of one who is still experiencing rejection:
1) My Love Is Non-Negotiable.
When you begin to make the list of all the things you’ve done for someone, and all the things they haven’t or are currently not doing for you–your love instantly becomes conditional. And fortunately as a believer, I don’t get the option of operating with a conditional currency. I’m being loved lavishly by an unconditional God who not only pours His love into my life on a daily basis, but empowers me to be so filled that I get to dump that love out on everyone I meet–even those who don’t seem to have much love for me in return.
Mark 12: 30-31 in the Message says, “Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
If someone is seemingly valuing me less than I value them in relationship, I have the great privilege of going back to Father and saying, “Ok, God. Here I am again. I need more of Your love to aim their way. I need more of your grace. I need more of your perspective about the situation. I need more of your mercy.” Sometimes, their rejection doesn’t have anything to do with me (it’s something they’re going through), and then other times, they just don’t want the friendship anymore.
Either way, your mind is made up. And you’ve decided–your love for them is not conditional on their actions.
2) I’m Unoffendable
Offense is poison, plain and simple. I’ve been cut out of business deals, rejected, sexually abused, raped–some pretty heavy trauma situations, and holding someone to blame in my heart never did me one ounce of good. Offense never mended any fights, it never brought me any joy or peace, and it certainly never brought life. If I choose to partner with offense, even for a short time, the minutes of my day are now filled with despair, hopelessness, anger, and bitterness.
The second I feel offense start to wrap its slimy hands around my windpipe and begin to squeeze, I get on my knees as fast as I can. I’ve learned that talking it over, letting it stew, or trying to process the rejection never does anything but further the pain by throwing salt in the wound. I must get my heart into a posture of surrender as quickly as possible, or my life is going to suffer until I can let go.
That being said, you don’t have to keep investing in the bank that will take from you, but doesn’t have the time to invest anything in return.
Sitting around and waiting for someone to change their mind and suddenly want relationship with you means, unfortunately, you might be waiting for a while. When you make up your mind that your love is non-negotiable and you’re unoffendable, it doesn’t mean you have to keep investing your time.
This doesn’t just include your physical time. It also includes the time you spend THINKING about the situation!
As a mother, wife, author, and traveling speaker, time is the most precious commodity I have. If I’m able to give my time to someone, it’s a gift that’s in limited supply these days. Waiting around for someone to want time with me who clearly doesn’t means I’m robbing from those who actually see my time and my relationship as a precious gift.
Loving yourself and loving others is actually recognizing this and drawing boundaries where they need to be drawn.
And sometimes, that means moving on from a situation.
4) Love Always Moves Forward
One Saturday afternoon while Studhubs and I had the privilege of spilling our guts, problems, and current struggles to our favorite teacher, Graham Cooke, one of his comments hit like a bomb to the heart, “Guys, love always moves towards–especially when there’s pain. That’s when you know you have true relationship.”
Are the relationships you value most those that will move towards you when you’re at your lowest point? Or do they retreat and back away? Unfortunately, we’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
My husband is WAY better at this than I am and has taught me so much about this character trait, but we’ve set a standard in our marriage….we will be the couple that goes toward the hurting, because that’s what our Father does. And guess what, our couch is visited quite frequently by the broken, hurting, and needy, knowing that we’re a safe place for them to come in their lowest point. They’re never judged, always encouraged, and forever empowered towards hope and healing.
5) Turn Around. Who Is Valuing You?
When I got really honest, looking at some of the relationships I had the most value for and realizing they didn’t have the same value system for me, I turned around to discover an entire list of diamonds that I had neglected. Studhubs and I wrote down the names of the people who have us in their “we would do anything for you” category, bringing us, very humbly, to tears.
Are those the people we’re aiming our time, effort, and love towards? Do those people know how much we value them by our actions? How can we make sure that they know we feel the same way?
These are questions that require action, and action that can’t wait to pour out of me in the days and weeks to come. In fact, the more I think about these relationships, the smaller my initial problem seems, and instead of my heart being filled with what I don’t have, I’m absolutely overcome with the wealth of relationship that are already within my hands.
Rejection will come and go throughout this life. Even Jesus experienced enormous amounts of rejection from those closest to him in his final hours on this earth. It isn’t something any of us can ever fully avoid, but it is something we can all successfully have victory over.
And for the rest of my life, I will go to great lengths attempting to value people more than they value me.
What a powerfully beautiful way to live.
1. Is there someone you value more than they value you, and it’s kept you in feelings of rejection, hurt, bitterness or anger? It’s time to let go. A victim is at the mercy of their circumstances, but you are more than a conquerer. Talk to God about the pain of that rejection….hand it over to Him. Let the Comforter come into the pain and heal you, bringing light and peace where there’s been hurt.
2. Who has value for you that you haven’t had value for? Turn around and begin to focus on those people–let them know how much you appreciate their friendship, their love, and their time.