No one will tell you that being rejected doesn’t suck. There’s no let’s-be-honest here. It hurts. As Christians, we hear a lot about how to pursue friendships and relationships. We hear a lot about what to look for in the people that we will do life with, and we hear a lot about what to avoid. But how do we deal with it when a Christ-fearing, kind, quality person decides that our paths don’t lie together in the future?
Rejection bring all sorts of emotions. Questioning why and how. Wondering if we read the signs wrong. Doubting God’s goodness. Even being angry that our vulnerability gave someone the ability to hurt us. And then loneliness comes when the hurt dies down. We experience regret and remorse come for the time invested in someone who’s not a part of our lives anymore. These feelings affect us all, but how should Christians approach heartache and rejection?
First, we need to bring it to Christ. Jesus faced betrayal and rejection almost daily from the culture, from the religious leaders, from family and even from one of the twelve people closest to him. We would be foolish to think that God doesn’t understand our hurt. He does. Christ acutely experienced the same pain that we do. In His greatest agony, God turned His face away from Christ on the cross. Christ bore our sin to make a way for us to be saved from our mistakes. He was a man of sorrow and well acquainted with grief. No matter if we have done everything to the best of our ability in a relationship, we have not been sacrificial to the point of death and experienced rejection for it. Christ understands.
Experiencing rejection can leave us feeling confused and angry with God. Don’t push this down or ignore it. Bring those emotions before Him. Wrestle through them, because wrestling brings you closer to Him. But also remember to ask what you need to learn from it. Seek to gain insights that will make you wiser in the future. We are allowed to experience emotions, but asking “why” will not bring growth. Ask “what” instead.
The next thing we need to do is process through it. One of the most detrimental things I have ever done was ignoring my hurt and pain. When not dealt with, wounds become painful and infected. In my case, there were lasting consequences from pretending I wasn’t hurt. But don’t process with just anyone. Process with wise, Christian, discrete individuals who will provide biblical perspectives as well as the love and care that’s only present among fellow believers.
Next, surround yourself with people who do truly love you and have your best interest at heart. Whether or not the rejection was malicious or intentional, it’s very tempting to fall into patterns of assigning blame to yourself where it isn’t due. Do not be afraid to verbalize the need to be reminded that you are loved. We are meant for community. We are given friends and family to be with us in the good and the bad. Draw close to them. Isolating and withdrawing means missing out on a precious part of how God has blessed us. Moreover, these people see you hurting, and they want to help. Let them in.
Finally, stay strong against temptation. There is nothing easier for Satan to prey on than a freshly-rejected, bleeding heart that is desperate to feel wanted. This might be the temptation to be with people who don’t treat you well. It might be the temptation to turn to harmful coping mechanisms to drown out the pain. It might be to slander the person that hurt you. Whatever it is, it will come dressed like a magic fix to the hurt. Don’t be fooled. These are not permanent or healthy solutions. Take the temptations to God in prayer. Especially to counteract the desire to talk negatively about the person who hurt you, it’s biblical to pray for their well-being. Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them”. Remind yourself of truth. If you fall, stand back up again and keep fighting.
When confronted with rejection and disappointment, remember that it is temporary. There may always be a sting associated with memories. There might be a scar from this instance of hurt. However, nothing lasts forever except God’s love. A loving and merciful God does not allow suffering to no purpose. He is still good.