We move now from the results or impacts of rejection, which the victim has little control over, to the choices and responses which victims make. Rejection needs to be dealt with at two levels. We need to resolve the spiritual and personal impact of what the victim experiences at the hands of others, and the victim needs to undo what they have done in their response to being rejected.
People have different coping strategies and coping skills for surviving life’s challenges. I heard recently of an African nation where, as a consequence of war and disease, there are families of surviving children where an eleven year old is the ‘adult’ caring for two younger siblings. The survival instincts and coping skills needed in such a situation challenge the understanding of comfortable westerners.
Because people are different and each situation is unique, there are many diverse responses which people create to deal with their problems. What I present in this and the next few lessons are the responses I have seen most often. I see these as the core responses to expect in the life of someone who has suffered rejection.
Ease The Pain
An early instinct, in a survival situation, is to reduce our suffering. We automatically look for ways to ease our pain. We withdraw from the problem or the source of pain, and then attend to our wounds.
A wounded ‘heart’, as we saw in an earlier lesson, cannot be treated in the normal medical facilities which help heal our bodies. We are often left without any real help for dealing with our hurt feelings, confused thinking and damaged internal life.
What we do, then, is apply a bandage of our own making. I call this the Human Bandage, and I depict it as a bandage across the open wound in our heart. A bandage on such a wound does not help it heal since we need God’s healing touch to ‘restore our soul’. However, we are usually quick to come up with our own bandages to dampen the pain we feel inside.
Man Made Bandage
It is important to distinguish between a ‘man made bandage’, what I call the Human Bandage, and the divine healing tools which God supplies. The man made bandage is that which comes easily to the mind of people. It does not usually have the divine therapeutic value which comes from God’s ways and God’s word.
I have met many people with their man-made-bandage, who are quite insistent that their own way of dealing with a problem is working. I have found it difficult at times to prompt people to look for God’s full and wonderful healing, because they have been quite satisfied with their own makeshift remedy.
Whatever they have done to cover the wound and numb the pain is their human bandage. It is their attempt to protect their wound from further bumping, and to minimise the pain they feel inside.
Blur Blame and Bluff
Among the coping skill, survival strategies which I have often seen are Blur, Blame and Bluff.
Blur is where a person plays mind games, such as rationalisation, to mollify the sting of what they have been through. They may say, “Everyone had it tough in those days, so I shouldn’t be upset about what I went though.” Or they may say, “Mum was very sick, so I can understand why she was so cruel to me.” This kind of thinking is an attempt to paint over the cracks, but it doesn’t change the fact that real pain was felt and still persists.
Blame involves directing or dumping the hurt and hardened feelings onto someone else. “It’s all my father’s fault! If he had never left us I wouldn’t have gone through all this!” However, the blame game does not bring any healing. It actually nurtures a ‘root of bitterness’, which creates a whole new set of problems.
Bluff includes such things as the simple assertion that “time heals”. Time does not heal anything. Pain may become more buried over time, but it is still there, raw and painful, under your pile of bandages. When someone tells me, “I’m over it now”, I am suspicious. I know that unless someone has actively applied the love and grace of God to their pain they are unlikely to be free.
One of our tools for dealing with pain and pressure is to bury ourselves in activity. People develop a ‘distracted life’, filled with activities, business, hobbies, parties, relationships, and things that keep them distracted from their past pains.
While this might give the impression they can maintain normal life, their life is not ‘normal’. Their whole existence is one huge coping mechanism. They are not living, but running a life-long strategy. Their work, achievements, busy-ness, social butterfly flittering, intense devotion to their hobbies, and the like, are not what they were created for. Those things have been adopted to smother their pain, not fulfil God’s plan.
Don’t let pain destroy God’s plan for your life.
Another coping strategy, human bandage trick is to prove your self-worth. Because rejection attacks your confidence and sense of self-worth it is easy for rejected people to throw themselves into proving themselves, as a way of ameliorating their pain.
If a person can count their achievements, affirm their own worth, and prove that they are not what others think they are then they can blur the feelings of rejection deep inside. Sadly, these achievements do not take away our pain, but they play into our desire to rationalise what is going on. It provides material for our mind to toy with, even though that does not pour oil into our wounds.
Me and My Bandages
I have mentioned before that I had put so many bandages on my own heart they had become a small hill. I tried to cover my sense of internal pain and I was extremely reluctant to ever expose it, even to God.
God graciously assured me that He would not bruise me in the process of healing me. I was comforted by the scripture about the Lord not breaking a bruised reed or putting out the last spark in a smouldering cloth.
“A bruised reed he will not break and the smoking flax he will not quench: he will bring forth judgment unto truth.” Isaiah 42:3
Eventually I let God get His fingers under the bottom bandage and pull them off my life. I am ever so glad that I did. He healing in my life has been so wonderful and opened to me a life much more abundant than I ever thought I would have.
Rise and Be Healed in the Name of Jesus
You were not created to be a victim or to live your life in pain. You were not created to be hidden behind a bandage or mask, or to consume your life in survival strategies.
You were created to be hugged by God. You were created to play like a child on the golden pavement before His throne. You were created to bask in the sunshine of His love and to be surrounded by the security and overwhelming grace of His presence.
So, in the lovely and powerful name of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, I command you to Rise and Be Healed. Walk in freedom, wholeness and transformation, showing to the world the awesome grace of our amazing Heavenly Father.
I command that your soul not only be ‘restored’ (as Psalm 23:3 says) but ‘prospered’ (as 3John 2 says), so you can not only live your life, but amazingly bless everyone else’s too!