While the picture of rejection used in the last article summarises the process of rejection, this lesson looks at the most poignant element of the impact of rejection.
When people cut off the love supply we go through the process of rejection. What that does on the inside of us is create a deep, internal wound that we may carry for the rest of our life.
Knife in the Heart
I use the rather dramatic imagery of a knife in the heart to describe what it feels like at times when we are rejected. The person offending or rejecting us might be horrified if they understood the pain, impact and dimension of what they have done to us.
Many parents, spouses, friends and people try to dismiss what they have done and to excuse their outburst, neglect, selfish behaviour, and so on. But for the one who feels rejected the action can prove to be devastating in its significance.
We have seen in previous lessons that the main area where rejection impacts us seems to be our emotions. So the knife in the heart imagery makes a pretty good generalisation to represent how rejection affects us.
We use the expression “brokenhearted” to describe the internal feeling we have when we are let down, jilted or hurt by others. So an image of a heart broken in two might work just as well.
The Bible uses the term “broken in heart”, so that gives further legitimacy of the idea of hour heart being the place where the injury takes place.
“He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
However, I like the idea of a knife in the heart, because it suggests an attacker. Even if the person who caused the hurt is ignorant of their impact, the victim can usually identify the one who they feel has hurt them. When we come to the stage of resolving rejection you will find that the process of ‘forgiveness’ is very important. So having a sense for the offender, or the one who wounded us, in mind, will lead easily into that process.
Reference to a “broken heart” does not maintain consciousness of an offender in the same way a knife in the heart does.
Another terminology for the inner wound which we experience in rejection is “hurt”. We speak of carrying hurts. These hurts are bruises on our heart.
While the knife imagery invokes the more severe impact of rejection we also carry many bruises, hurts and inner pains that are not such intense wounds.
Many people carry some level of pain, even if they call it disappointment, hurt feelings, soreness, or whatever. Hurt is a good term to use for that large collection of inner injuries which impact us to varying degrees, even if not serious enough to be called ‘wounds’.
I should point out that the imagery of a wounded heart does not rule out the wider impact of rejection. Our mind gets involved in the rejection issue, so I want to take a moment to acknowledge that too. While our focus may be with hurt feelings, inner wounds, deep personal pain and other emotional effects, we may not realise how much our mind is impacted by the rejection experience.
Troubled thoughts, agony of mind, struggle to find reasons, rationalisation, intense self-interrogation, and other mental mind-traps can tangle a person in distraction.
Most people who are carrying deep inner hurts are mentally distracted. Some find it impossible to concentrate or even think clearly.
The focus on a wounded heart should not displace our awareness of the intense mental pain that many people go through. The mind is part of our soul and it needs to be restored, just as our feelings do.
The feelings which people grapple with when they have been rejected can be wide ranging. We have already mentioned hurt and pain. Along with them there are such things as being disheartened or discouraged. People can lose heart and give up on themselves, others, relationships, studies, career, and even life itself.
Feelings of inferiority are a powerful element of rejection. The notion comes to the victim that if they are worthy of being abused, rejected or neglected by the people who should love them, then maybe they are simply of no real value.
Feelings of fear, especially the fear of further rejection, can enslave people’s hearts and minds. Distrust of others and uncertainty about emotions, relationships and their own expectations from life can easily spring up in a rejected life.
We will look in future posts at some of the responses which tend to spring up in the fertile soil of a wounded heart. All of those various feelings tend to be underpinned by the overriding experience of personal trauma and pain.
When I am working with people to lead them into freedom I like to find, if possible, the moment when the knife pierced their heart. That moment of personal trauma can be a key to unlocking the pain that has engulfed them.
While looking for the moment of trauma I came to realise that there can often be a delayed impact in a person’s life.
I have encountered many families where all the children were abused in one way or another, and yet each person responded differently. They each had a personal journey of abuse, despite their shared experiences.
The idea of ‘delayed impact’ is summarised by the scenario where a father keeps putting off time with his child. Imagine a child going to his dad to show him something. The father brushes off the child with something like, “I’m busy at the moment. Show me later.” Then, later, the dad is on the phone, reading the paper, about to make an important call, not wanting to be disturbed, thinking about something important or the like.
Each time the child goes to his dad the child is in reality being rejected. But the child trusts the father and accepts his excuses, not feeing the pain of rejection. But then, on one momentous occasion, after being rejected yet again, the penny drops for the child. They suddenly feel the impact of rejection and realise that their dad is never going to have time for them.
In a family this delayed impact can hit each child at a different age or stage of life for each one. They may all be rejected but some feel the impact far more deeply. Some children can even be so robust emotionally that they never realise how rejected they have been, while their sibling has been devastated by the same treatment all the children received.
Handle on the Knife
If you can remember the day that the knife struck your heart you will find it fairly easy to grab the handle of the knife and remove it from your life. Rejection can be healed in either case, but I like to encourage you that if you can relate to the knife in the heart imagery you are on track for wonderful freedom.
God is able to give you a new heart. He binds up the broken in heart. He restores your soul. He even makes your soul prosper (3John 2). So don’t be afraid of what you have gone through or the pain that has destroyed you. Your day of deliverance is at hand, because Jesus has done all that needs to be done for you.