My working definition of “Rejection” is simple, like most of my concepts. I believe that it is best to keep things very simple, so any child could understand and anyone could apply the teaching to their life.
So, in this lesson I will explain the simple process by which we experience rejection and point to some of the many ways through which rejection can be encountered.
Since we are “love receptors”, as I explained in Rejection 2, we are highly sensitive to the experience of being denied love. When those who should love and accept us refuse to do so we are hurt on the inside.
We don’t seek to be hurt. Those hurt feelings are not a game we are playing to get back at those who hurt us. Instead, they are an automatic response from within us, due to our inherent sensitivity to love and our natural desire to be loved just the way we are.
So, rejection has a lot to do with the natural flow of “love”, or any expression which represents love, such as acceptance, friendship, care and so on.
Cutting Off the Love Supply
My simple definition for Rejection, then, is “Cutting off the Love Supply”. When someone turns off the supply of love which we would naturally expect from them, then we experience something of the feeling of rejection.
Now, there are many disclaimers and explanations which could be applied to this topic, and I am trying to keep things simple. Allow me to point out that some times there has not actually been a cutting off of the real supply of love and affection, but simply the perception of being denied love by the other person.
When a parent disciplines or rebukes a child, for example, the child may be tempted to think that the parent has stopped loving them. That is why I teach in my Parenting material about the need for the parent to affirm the child who is being disciplined, to protect them from misunderstanding the parent’s actions and intentions.
When a person perceives that the love supply has been cut off they will encounter feelings of rejection. Their perception may be wrong, but the impact will be just as real. Alternatively, a person may be being taken advantage of, but not realise it. In that case they are experiencing something negative, but are spared the hurt feelings that would otherwise result.
Expectation of Love
Rejection is most strongly felt when the person who is (or seems to be) cutting off the love supply is someone we expect to love us. Therefore much of people’s experience of rejection can be traced back to early childhood encounters with their parents or other relatives. A child should expect their family and carers to care about them. So they are readily hurt when it seems they do not.
The picture which I use to depict the rejection process has an adult pointing the finger at a child. I chose this image because of the likely early childhood times of feeling rejected because of the actions of parents and adults.
Obviously we can experience rejection in adult life, and we are most likely to feel rejection from those we expect to love us. Our extended family, friends, spouse, work associates, boss and teachers are among those we would normally expect to show care, compassion, respect and even love. Each of them, then, is able to bring stronger offence into our life than complete strangers would normally be able to do.
Many people are the victim of what I term ‘active rejection’. This occurs when a person is shunned, rejected, insulted, verbally abused, used, or otherwise wrongly treated in an active way.
The active form of rejection may come in words of accusation or denigration, through physical abuse, by being pushed away, or the like. In each of these cases the victim experiences an unhappy encounter that impacts their life.
Among the many examples I could site, let me list a few. A child who is not the sex which was desired by a parent can be pushed aside or ‘tolerated’ instead of loved. A child who does not live up the parent’s expectations in academics, sports, art, natural ability, or the like can be despised by the disappointed parent.
An angry parent can vent harsh words on their child. An irritated or frustrated parent can falsely accuse, scold with inappropriate venom, lash out at a child, or otherwise vent their feelings in a hurtful way. A parent who resents their spouse can resent that spouse’s favourite child or despise the child who most reminds them of that spouse. A parent who has their material ambitions limited by the needs or expenses of the child can punish the child in various ways for being an impediment to their dreams.
A child can be unwanted, unaccepted, below the parent’s expectations and standards, hated, out of place, and so on. All of this involves the active expression of rejection.
People can also be victims of passive rejection. This is where a child is not subjected to any overt or obvious rejection, but feels neglected, overlooked, and the like.
Passive rejection may easily occur when a parent is preoccupied with other interests or needs. A workaholic parent will most likely neglect the children. A parent who wants to pursue their own interests, friends, relationships, career or the like, can leave the child feeling undervalued. Parents who spend time fighting with each other can leave their children feeling of no value.
Many times the abusing parent is completely unaware that they are causing deep hurts in their child.
Some parents take greater interest in the activities of one of their children in place of another. The child who misses out on what they see their sibling receiving will likely feel rejected by the favouritism.
Among the many stories I have heard from hurting people here are some examples of how they have come to feel unloved.
One young girl accidentally discovered papers which proved she was adopted. She went to both her parents and asked them if she was their real child. They both assured her that she was, probably because they didn’t want her to feel anything less than their loved family member. She, however, knew they were lying and felt hurt that they would not tell her the truth. The very next morning as she left for school her dad said, “Aren’t you going to hug daddy today?” She replied, “I don’t hug daddy any more.” The man smiled to his wife and said, “Our little girl is growing up”. But he did not know that she was feeling deeply rejected and was rejecting him in return.
One family had a sick child who consumed all the parents’ time, energy and money. The other children not only despised and resented the sick child, but felt deeply abandoned by the parents.
One small girl felt deeply hurt by her father leaving home for another woman. The child assumed that she must have been responsible in some way.
One young boy brought his school papers home to show his mum, but she had seen that work before from his older siblings and didn’t take any interest. He felt jealous of his older siblings and deep resentment toward his mum.
Children of alcoholic and addicted parents suffer greatly. Children from broken homes often feel hurt by the process. Children of high achiever parents often feel they run a poor second to their parent’s own agendas. And so it goes on.
We will see much later in this series that God’s love is the ultimate love. It is the perfect love which casts out our fear, inferiority, hurt, pain, feelings of rejection and so on.
Rather than get buried in the pain which might be surfaced by this investigation of the subject of rejection, take time out right now to ask God to pour His amazing and ultimate love into your aching heart.
Remember the verse we saw in the previous lesson about God’s desire to make you whole.
“He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3
“He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
Allow me to add to those verses this lovely text about the love of God…
“The LORD appeared to me of old, saying, Yea, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3
God’s love for you is the ultimate love. It is much more powerful and valuable than the love of your parents, siblings, spouse, friends, family and society. God’s love is more powerful than all other love put together. So ask for Him to pour that love into your heart right now.
“And hope does not make you ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.” Romans 5:5