Love must be sincere. Romans 12:9
We have all experienced rejection and those experiences could have left us deeply wounded, even years after the experience. According the US Surgeon General’s 2001 report, it has been shown “Rejection is a greater risk for adolescent violence than drugs, poverty, and gang membership combined.” Rejection, and experiencing rejection, has a substantive impact on our lives, so we have to be careful and be aware of it.
With that, let us now go through three ways that we encounter rejection, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Rejection Encounter 1: Conscious Stonewalling
This happens when we feel that we have a legitimate request. We go to our boss, parent, spouse, or colleague with that request, but they reject us outright. We pray and search our hearts—was our request somehow unjustified? Yet, we know our conscience is clear before God and we are left to conclude: we have been rejected.
Rejection Encounter 2: Conscious Deception
In this situation, we want to share what’s going on in our lives, and we especially want the support of our loved ones. Yet, as we are talking to them, they are actively on the phone “handling urgent work issues” (or perhaps just reading social media!). When we try to get their attention, they simply reply, “Yup, I am listening.” When this happens, we can’t help but feel a tinge of rejection.
Rejection Encounter 3: Unconscious Intentional Rejection
Here, our supervisor claims that they love the team and values all members of the team; yet it seems they only often go out for lunch with the few who are closest to them. Our supervisor is trustworthy and we believe they are not intentionally doing this, but we can’t help but feel a little rejected.
What’s going on in these three encounters? In all of them, we see that there is a clear lack of one thing: attention. Indeed, rejection is inevitably communicated when people don’t give attention to one another. When attention is denied, it some sometimes feel like our legitimacy – or even our existence – is being denied. And of course, when this lasts for an extended period of time, something deep inside of us dies.
Is it so surprising then that rejection is so destructive? Let us then work to be even more aware since rejection is that much more dangerous because it can be done without intention or thought. We can reject those we love simply by being too busy or too distracted by other things.
Because of this, especially with so much going on in relation to the pandemic, allow me to challenge us to ask: Am I also guilty of rejecting others? What is the one thing I can do to give my attention to those I love?