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I listened with interest as the pastor spoke about the fear of rejection. That fear was a familiar companion of mine for a long time. I wore it like a cloak to protect me against the cold, bitter feeling of isolation rejection brings.
That sermon caused me to recall my childhood. I was not wanted from the beginning. My mother got pregnant at twenty, unmarried. She tried to abort me, but it did not work. So my parents married, and in less than three years added two more children. After another few years, they had two more. Our home life could have made a showcase episode on Jerry Springer. My earliest memories are of my mother passed out drunk on the couch and my father gone, or worse, at home. We were often abused and neglected.
I was the oldest, so the care of my youngest sisters in those years often fell to me. Diapering, feeding babies were part of my early elementary years. So was staying up at night, keeping watch when we were left alone in the house. We lived in Detroit during the race riots in the 1960’s. I didn’t experience black and white racial problems. In my neighborhood, the Italians and Irish hated each other. Our neighbors broke our windows, ran my toddler sister over with a bike, and assaulted us when my mother stopped the car at a stop sign. I was only six years old, but I knew enough to be afraid when my parents left us alone at night. So I would stay awake, sitting up on the top stair and watch the front door. I was fearfully determined to protect my siblings.
We moved a lot and I quickly learned that once other kids’ parents knew my family, I was not welcomed to play with their children. It was painful to hear other adults describe my family as trash and warn their kids to stay away from me. Books became my friends. I would spend hours reading, locked up in my room. I became introverted, which unfortunately did not keep me from being bullied at school. I once stayed home “sick” for two weeks in Junior High, because a group of girls had targeted me for a beating. Trying to stay below the radar didn’t always work in avoiding rejection.
It seemed that no one wanted me. Even when my mother sobered up and my parents worked out their marital problems, our family life was not loving or supportive. In high school I had a few friends and some positive experiences, but I did not trust anyone. Then I met Jesus Christ. I was stunned by the Gospel message. God loved me, while I was a wretched, lonely little girl, while I was an angry teen. He loved me enough to send His Son to pay the penalty of my sins, of all my failures. When I understood that Jesus Christ went to the cross for the joy set before Him, and that joy was me, I was drastically changed. I was given a heart of flesh in place of my old, stony heart. For the first time in my life, I was accepted, and not just by anyone, but by the Creator of the universe!
I walked in this new life for just a short time before rejection hit me again. Night after night, my parents would wake me and berate me for my faith in Jesus Christ. I got the cold treatment during the day and at night they would scream, yell and argue with me. I felt like all hell was unleashed against me. At eighteen, I had no resources. All I had was God. So I turned to Him and begged Him for help. Help came. My parents threw me out of the house with this curse, “You pray to Jesus. We’ll see whose prayers are answered.”
How was that help? You see, I had a new Father. The curse that was hurled against me was a challenge to His goodness and glory. So He set out to show me how He loves and cares for His own. I went to college, although my family thought it was a waste of resources for me, because a man I did not know co-signed school loans. He did so at the request of my heavenly Father. Over the years, the Lord has provided me with an education, a godly husband, children, friends, places to live. I have never wanted for food, shelter, or love and acceptance because my Father is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides!
God has shown me that perfect love casts out fear. Rejection isn’t the issue, fear of it is. The most perfect person to walk this earth was rejected. It did not matter though, because He was accepted by the only one who does-the Most High God. Jesus did not fear rejection, and as His beloved, I don’t have to fear it either.
As the pastor spoke about fear, he said, “Fear is a doorway, not a room to live in.” Don’t avoid opportunities God brings your way because you fear rejection. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. He provides all that we need to live this life in a manner worthy of the gift He has given us. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. Let His perfect love cast out your fear of rejection!