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92 | Healing a rejection wound

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Hi, my name is Dean and in this podcast, I want to discuss the importance of healing rejection wounds.

There was an interesting study conducted by the University of California in 2003, that reveals the important truth about rejection. It’s real and it hurts.
But more than hurts, it can literally cause wounds, rejection wounds, that can actually weaken you and make you vulnerable.

The study involved scanning the brains of 13 people, nine women and 4 men, while they were playing a computer game.

It involved a simple game where the people would play catch with two other members of the group, while their brains were being scanned.

But there was a catch. While each player thought they were playing with other members of the group, in fact, they weren’t. They were playing catch with two computer simulations.

While things went smoothly for seven rounds, it changed in the eighth, when the researchers programmed the simulations to only play catch with each other ignoring the real human player.

As the simulations ignored the real players for about 40 catches, their brains were being scanned. At the end, the players were asked questions about their response to what happened, and some admitted that they found the rejection quite stressful.

The brain scans revealed two areas of activity. Not unexpectedly, this included the anterior angulate cortex which is referred to as the brain’s emotional alarm system that activates in distressing and unexpected situations.

The researchers also discovered that this area was more active, in those who reported higher levels of stress over the rejection experience.

But another area that showed activity was the right ventricle prefrontal cortex which was a bit more unusual because studies have revealed that this area of the brain used to deal with physical pain.

This meant that the rejection people were feeling associated with this computer game felt like real physical pain.

But the study also revealed that individuals were experiencing different levels of stress over the rejection. Some found it very difficult to handle.

Though I can’t be sure, it makes me wonder if the people experiencing high levels of stress were doing so because maybe they were still suffering from previously unhealed rejection wounds, which made them more sensitive to rejection, even at the lowest level.

This reflects one of the biggest struggles that we will have with rejection, and that is to not take it personally.

Unfortunately, our first inclination is to take rejection personally. But if we do, it causes wounding and will impact us emotionally. In turn, this will affect your self-worth and will impact your self-confidence.

Twice in the gospels, Jesus gave advice on how to deal with rejection and in both passages, the main message that Jesus was providing, is don’t take it personally.

In Luke 6:26, Jesus warned His Disciples, beware when all people speak well of you.

What Jesus was saying is that there are people that you don’t want to like you.
In other words, if we are living by our principles, we should not only expect rejection, but we should want it, because it validates what we stand for.

Then in Matthew 10:22, Jesus warned his disciples that people will hate them, not because of who they are, but because they actually hate Jesus.

In other words, don’t take it personally.

But there is more to it than that. We will all receive criticism for things we are doing and some of us look upon that as a form of rejection.

If you are a creative person, people may not like your work. But it is important that we separate what we do from who we are.

It would be ridiculous for you to say that I am no good because I can’t play quarterback like NFL great Tom Brady or paint like da Vinci.

I am still valued in God’s eyes and that’s what is important.

But if I don’t make this separation, then I will start taking criticism personally resulting in a rejection wound.

I remember a few months ago, someone made a comment and criticized one of my YouTube videos by stating never to trust anyone with a big mic. What has that got to do with anything?

Some criticisms are legit, and some aren’t, but either way, don’t take it personally.

And your reaction to criticism may actually reveal how personally you are taking it. Does it send you into a depression spiral? Do you start thinking you are no good and want to quit? Or maybe you go to the other extreme and get angry or outraged?

If so, these may be indicators you are taking it personally.

However, sometimes it is unavoidable because there are times when the rejection is very personal. It is about you. The person doing the rejection makes sure that the rejection is personal. You are the one being rejected.

But even in these extreme instances of rejection, it is sometimes not about you, but rather reflects problems inside the other individual.

But what happens if you do take rejection personally. Unfortunately, when we take it personally, criticism creates a rejection wound in your heart.

Several years back I worked with an organization that was often involved in politics.

It was late Friday afternoon, around 5:30, and after a busy week, I was tired and just wanted to go home when a man showed up at the office wanting to speak with someone.

He had a briefcase in one hand and a handful of brochures in another, and introduced himself as being from a recently formed political party and wanted to tell our organization what it was all about.

I had actually heard about this political party and was actually interested in finding out more, but it was 5:30, and I just wanted to go home. I was not interested in spending another two hours talking politics on a Friday night, but I was genuinely interested in finding out more about this group, so I asked if I could meet with him next week.

Could we make an appointment next week to talk about this political party.

But that wasn’t good enough, and he insisted that we talk that night.
I simply told him that I was interested and wondered if we could meet next week.

In seconds the man’s mood changed. He became irritable and said, that it was obvious I wasn’t interested, even though I told him that I was.

For the third time, I said I was interested and asked again if we could meet the next week. It was 5:30 on a Friday night, and I just wanted to go home.

In a huff, the man told me that I obviously wasn’t and abruptly turned around, walked out the door, and I never heard from him again.

This man was suffering a rejection wound. He did not hear what I was saying. Everything I said was reinterpreted through his rejection lens. He believed I was rejecting him, even though I wasn’t.

In the end, the man ended up rejecting himself, on my behalf. I didn’t reject him. He rejected himself.

This man had a deep rejection wound and because of it, he couldn’t hear or understand what I was saying.

People with rejection wounds, see rejection even when it doesn’t exist. The pastor walks past you after church without saying hi, and you think he hates you or is avoiding you.

In 1 Corinthians 2:3, the Apostle Paul makes an interesting statement in his first letter to the Corinthians. He spoke of the time that he first showed up at Corinth and how he didn’t come with lofty speeches, but approached them in ‘weakness’ and because of that he came in fear and trembling.
Paul writes quote

3 I also was with you in weakness and fear, and in great trembling, (1 Corinthians 2:3 NASV)

But notice how Paul’s weakness not only caused him to lose confidence in himself but to actually experience great trembling, even insecurity and self-doubt.

The Greek word for weakness is ‘astheneia’ and refers to a weakness both physically, like a chronic sickness. But as we can see in this verse, it also refers to emotional weakness, where we are wracked with self-doubt, insecurity, and fear.

But that Greek word anesthesia shows up in another verse, Matthew 8:17, that was used to explain part of Jesus’ mission on the earth.

It reads:

“He took up our infirmities (astheneia), and bore our diseases.”

The verse tells us that in addition to healing our diseases, the Greek word ‘nomous’, we read that Jesus also wants to take away our infirmities, our astheneia, our emotional weakness our fears, our self-doubt and insecurities and our rejection wounds.

But it’s strange because as we read through the gospels all we see are the dozens and dozens of times that Jesus miraculously healed the blind, the lame or the diseased.

Though these healings are visible throughout the gospels, that verse in Matthew puts the unseen and invisible emotional hurts first. It is almost like it is making them a priority, by putting them before sickness and disease.

It suggests that these unseen rejection wounds, these fears, and anxieties are equally important to Christ and perhaps more common because that is put first before diseases. ‘

But in this verse describing a critical part of Jesus’ ministry, the Lord wants to take hold of our infirmities. The Greek word ‘lambano’ means to take by the hand, to lay hold of and carry away.

Jesus wants to take that rejection wound, He wants to remove it. He wants to carry it away.

But if I am clutching something in my hand, in order for someone to take it away from me, something has to happen.

I have to let go and let Christ take it away.

In the case of infirmities, I have to emotionally let go and unfortunately, there is no easy way of doing this. In order to let go, we must forgive. We must forgive those who rejected us.

Only then can the healing process begin.

READ: Rejection really hurts finds brain study (newscientist.com: October 3, 2003)

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