Devotional: Fear of Rejection
Have you ever experienced a time where you have been left out? Or at the very least, experienced the fear of being left out? Some of my earliest memories pertaining to this date back to elementary school when the teacher would tell us to form groups for a class project. I had friends in school, but my closest friends were always those that I rode horses with, so most of the time, I wasn’t especially close with the kids in my class. I can recall a few occasions where the teacher asked us to form groups of three or four and I was left out, requiring the teacher to assign me a group to participate in. It was an awful feeling to not be included or thought of and it didn’t stop after elementary school. As an adult, I have felt the stinging rejection of not being invited to more than one special occasion that I felt warranted my inclusion, and the pain of someone who was once close to me now rejecting me as a friend in their life. At some point in our lives, I think most (if not all) of us have felt some level of this pain associated with being left out. One of the most frustrating things (at least for me) about being left out is that it’s not usually something we have a say in. If someone decides to omit you from a group project or a special occasion, they don’t usually consult you about it or give you a chance to plead your case. And even if they do, sometimes they reject you anyway.
When we are left out of something, we typically spend time mulling over the reasons we may not have been included to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Rejection hurts, so we want to know what we can do to avoid that pain in the future. But why does rejection hurt so bad? Is it because it forces us to confront our unworthiness? Or is it because someone else thinks we are unworthy, and we are trusting our identity to the opinions of others? Rejection makes us feel diminished, like we are less than those who were included. Rejection makes us feel like we aren’t enough and have to make up for it in some way. In rejection, we are forced to confront the fact that someone thinks we are unworthy, and that makes us question whether we are too.
Despite the fact that rejection from others makes us question our worthiness, we can rest peacefully in the knowledge that our true worthiness isn’t determined by what we do; nor is it for us or any other person to decide. In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Barry talked about the inclusiveness of the Lord’s supper. “When we come together, people from all socioeconomic races and backgrounds come together on a level playing field that says I can’t save myself, only Jesus can. And we come together, and the meal unites us… whatever it is, God unites us together.” One of the beautiful things about the Lord’s Supper is that we don’t have to do something to earn an invitation; nor do we need to fear the possibility of rejection. This gift is offered to all of us as an invitation to acknowledge our united depravity and dependence on Christ. When we come together to partake in the Lord’s Supper, we are humbly acknowledging our need for a savior. In that acknowledgement, we are reminded that our need is no less great than our fellow brothers and sisters and this unites us in our gratitude and love of Christ. And it is through this unity, that we find encouragement to love our brothers and sisters as Christ has loved us.
In Luke 22:14-16, it says this: “When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (ESV) Despite knowing what awaited Him on the cross, Jesus was eager to share this meal with His disciples because He knew that it was not for Him; it was for them. Through this meal, Jesus shared Himself with His disciples, giving them hope and reassurance of the Kingdom of God. Because of Jesus, we are freed from the fear of rejection and can partake in fellowship with others, knowing that our worthiness is in Him and nothing else. As we are united in Christ, we are able to eagerly share our lives with others as He did, rejoicing in His finished work on the cross that brings us all together as one body of believers in desperate need of a savior.
Photo Credit: Tim Wildsmith