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35 | Are you rejecting yourself?


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Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast, I want to ask: Are you rejecting yourself?

For several years, I worked with an organization that was actively involved in politics. Now, it was not a political party, but rather it focused on how governments spent tax dollars.

So we were thrust headlong into the political world.

It was a late Friday afternoon around 5:30 pm, and I was ready to head out the door and go home after a long week at work.

That’s when a man showed up at the office asking to speak to someone.

That someone ended up being me.

He was sharply dressed in a suit. He had a brief case in one hand and a bunch of pamphlets and literature in the other.

He introduced himself as being a board member of a new political party and he wanted to introduce his party to our organization and explain what his party was all about.

Now, I had previously heard of the political party and was actually interested in finding out more about it.

But it was late Friday afternoon and as much I was interested hearing more about the party I was not interested in a political discussion that could potentially go on for a couple of hours on a late Friday afternoon.

So I told him that I was heading out, but I specifically mentioned that I was interested in finding out more about the political party and wondered if we could make an appointment the following week to talk about it.

But that wasn’t good enough for him. He wanted to tell me about it that evening and handed me a brochure.

I simply repeated what I had said moments earlier. I was genuinely interested in finding out more about the political party and again, added let’s schedule a time next week, and he could tell me all about it.

At that moment the man became noticeably irritated and said that I obviously wasn’t interested in finding out more about this political party.

In fact, I had said the exact opposite. I had told him I was interested and wanted to find out more, but wanted to book a time when we could have more time to talk.

Did I mention it was 5:30, well it at this point it was probably closer to six, and I was tired and just wanted to go home?

I repeated what I had said a third time, this time particularly emphasizing that I wanted to learn more about this political party, but could we meet next week to talk about it.

Suddenly things took a dramatic change, in a huff he said I obviously wasn’t interested, abruptly turned around and walked out the door and I never heard from him again.

It is funny how a conversation can sometimes stick with you and this one plagued me for the rest of evening.

That night as I lay in bed, I couldn’t fall asleep as I replayed the conversation over and over in mind trying to figure out what happened. He said, then I said, he said, then I said and then he walked out.

I couldn’t shake it and after mulling over this conversation again and again, I finally asked the Holy Spirit why I couldn’t shake what happened that day, and I remember the Holy Spirit specifically saying to me it was because that man reminded me, of me.

Like me, this man was suffering from a rejection wounding.

And what he was doing was so subtle it was barely discernible. I knew what he was doing, because I had done it many times myself – this man was actually rejecting himself.

Now, what do I mean by that?

Even though I told this man several times that I wanted to meet with him the next week, because I was genuinely interested, he did not hear that.

He believed I was rejecting him when I actually wasn’t.

And in the end he completed this process by rejecting himself on my behalf. Even though I had specifically said I wanted to hear what he had to say, he decided that I actually didn’t and said no by walking out of the office.

And this is what happens to people who have a rejection wound in their life. They began to interpret every one’s response through a rejection lens. They believe that people are rejecting them even when they aren’t.

You walk by someone after church, and they don’t say “Hi” — “REJECTION, THEY MUST HATE ME!”

They then move to the next stage and began rejecting themselves by presuming that people are going to reject them anyway, so they avoid this by pulling out of situations before this imaginary rejection can actually happen.

Because this is what he was actually doing, he was saying “NO” for me.

As a result, they will not take advantage of opportunities because they believe it will end like it has always ended in the past with more rejection and more hurt.

And the best way to avoid this inevitable rejection is not to do it all. But this defeatest thinking is caused by a rejection wound.

And I believe Jesus wants to heal us of our rejection wounds and there is a verse that specifically speaks to this.

Matthew writes:

 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.”

Matthew 8:17 NIV

This verse talks about Jesus healing two different types of conditions — diseases and infirmities.

The Greek word “nosous,” translated diseases, is very straight forward and refers to illnesses and sicknesses.

However, the Greek word for infirmity, “astheneia,” refers to something different. It refers to weaknesses and is used to describe both physical and emotional weaknesses.

We see the same word being used in an emotional sense in 1 Corinthians 2:3-4, when Paul said that he was coming to their church in weakness (astheneia) and then adds specifically he was coming with much fear and trembling.

He tied that word weakness to his emotional struggles, a lack of confidence and fear. What was Paul fearing? I believe he was fearing being rejected by the Corinthians.

Matthew says Jesus wants to take away our infirmities, the Lord wants to heal our emotional woundings and struggles including those caused by rejection.

And this verse in Matthew puts emotional agony on the same level as physical pain because it is talking about sickness and infirmity in the same verse.

And in fact, this is what researchers at the University of California found out in their study conducted in 2003 and reported in a publication called Journal Science.

Thirteen people, four men and nine women, had their brains scanned as they played a computer game.

Each of the study subjects were told that they were playing a game of catch with two other participants in the group. In fact, the other two participants were just computer simulations.

At the end of playing catch for seven rounds, the researchers programmed the two computer simulated players to stop throwing the ball to the real person and for the simulations to just play catch with each other.

When this started happening, the real person believed that the other two supposed people in the study group were purposefully rejecting them and when this happened, the scans started picking up activity in the anterior singular cortex area of the brain.

This was interesting because this is the part of the brain that is used when a person feels physical pain – like when you stick your hand on a stove.

In other words, the rejection these people were feeling was as real as physical pain.

This is why the Bible puts infirmity or emotional hurts on par with diseases and illnesses in Matthew. It is as real. It is painful and God wants to heal these rejection woundings.

While Matthew says that Jesus wants to bear or carry our diseases, it says that the Lord wants to “take away” our infirmities.  The Greek word for take away or took, “lambano,” means literally to “take with the hand.”

This means that something specific needs to happen.

If you are holding a ball and you want me to take it from you, there is one thing you need to do, you must let it go.

Jesus wants to take our rejection, but in order for that to happen we need to release the hurt or the rejection. I believe this means that we need to forgive those people who have rejected us in the past.

The man who walked out my office on Friday evening was not responding to my rejection, he was reacting to all the rejection he had experienced in the past that he was still holding on to him.

But we know that Jesus wants to deal with our rejection, because the Lord dealt with rejection in all aspects of His life.

Isaiah 53 provides a breakdown of the physical pain Jesus would endure on the cross. But two verses in this chapter specifically deal with the multifaceted rejection that Jesus experienced before He died on the cross:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Isaiah 53:2-3 NIV

First Jesus suffered rejection as child

The first thing we see in this passage is that Jesus experienced rejection as a child because verse two talks about Jesus as a child, a tender shoot. It says that he had no beauty or majesty that attracted the other kids. He was not part of the cool crowd at school. When they chose teams, Jesus was the one usually chosen last.

When the Lord is described as a root out of dry ground, it suggests that he grew up in poverty. He lived on the wrong side of the tracks.

In fact, Hebrews 5:8 summed up Jesus’ childhood with “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.”

Secondly, Jesus suffered rejection by His family

In Isaiah it says that Jesus was like those whom people hid their faces from. We all have been in situations where you are embarrassed by the other person’s behavior. This is what the Bible is referring too. We feel sorry for the person and as a result are uncomfortable around them.

Well this is how Jesus was treated by his family.

In Mark 3:21, we are told that Mary and members of his family were so embarrassed by Christ, they thought he was crazy (literally out of His mind) and they wanted to take Jesus away, lock Him up in a room somewhere and keep Him out of sight.

When Jesus was talking to one of his brothers in John 7:3-5, the brother told the Lord that He should leave and be out healing people. We know he said it in a mocking way, because in verse 5 it specifically says that the brothers didn’t believe. This brother was making fun of Jesus when he made that statement.

Thirdly, Jesus was despised by society

The word despised used in Isaiah 53 to describe Jesus is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis when it says that Esau despised his birthrite when he gave it away to his brother Jacob.

The word means to undervalue. Nobody saw Jesus’ potential. They thought he would amount to nothing.

He was despised for being the son of a carpenter. He was despised for coming from Nazareth.  When Philip told his friend Nathaniel about Jesus, Nathaniel quipped “can anything good come out of Nazareth.” Even the town where Jesus was raised was looked down upon.

Finally, Jesus was forsaken by those in leadership

Isaiah says he was rejected by mankind. Other versions say forsaken by man.

The word forsaken implies a slightly different idea than despised, because it includes the concept of a person of lower caste or status. In fact, in their commentary Keil and Delitzch believe the word men used in this verse is more accurately translated “lords” and they believe that this is referring to the fact that Jesus experienced rejection by the leaders of his day.

Those in power put him down.

This idea is clearly stated in Mark:

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

Mark 8:31 NIV

And we see this at play at Jesus’ crucifixion.

As was tradition, on the eve of the Jewish Passover, the Romans offered to release a man scheduled to be executed, when Pilate offered to release Jesus, stirred up by the priests and scribes, the crowd chose a known brutal murderer, Barabbas, to be released over Christ (Matthew 27:15-18).

Rejection from leaders can come in many ways. Maybe you have been overlooked for a promotion at work. Maybe someone less qualified got the position. Maybe, they were buddies with the boss.

But it still hurts.

Rejection is one of the most painful and demeaning things a person can go through. Jesus experienced it in all aspects of his life, from family, to society, to leaders. He experienced it as a child and because He went through it, Jesus identifies with what you are going through and wants to heal your rejection wound.

And do it, we are required to take one step, we need to forgive those who rejected us.

As Jesus was dying on the cross, which was the ultimate rejection of His ministry, Jesus said:

“Lord Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”

Luke 23:34

You can’t ask God to forgive people, unless you have first forgiven them yourself.

Jesus wants to take your rejection. Let go of it. The first step involves forgiving those who have rejected you.

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