I woke up the other morning from a very, vivid dream. As I think about it now, I can feel the bitter sting and pain as it took me back to a familiar childhood memory – one of rejection.
In my dream, one of the women at my church rejected me by inviting the ‘popular’ group of women to her party and boldly told me that I was not welcome. I remember the look of disgust on her face as she told me that she did not like me.
As I sought the Lord about my dream (which is something I just started doing), He showed me what the dream was about. A couple of days before the dream, my husband said something to me which I though was very hurtful. He said it as a thoughtless pondering and did not mean any harm by it, and for which he apologized, but it sat with me for days. I ruminated on it, obsessed about it and replayed his words in my head until I crafted a song in my mind to make sure I remembered his words!
The Holy Spirit showed me that my dream about being rejected was at the root of why my husband’s words hurt so badly. His seemingly insignificant comment took me back to a string of rejections from an ex-husband, my son’s father, best-friends, boyfriends, and my own father’s abandonment when I was a child. All of these events changed me, they redefined how I see people and how I see myself. They confirmed a lie that at some point the enemy whispered in my ear and I believed. When many of us experience rejection as a child, it’s as if we are given a pair of tinted glasses which we begin to wear and from that point on everything we experience looks and feels like rejection.
Have you ever felt the sting of rejection? It hurts bad, doesn’t it? That’s why we keep it buried deep, so it does not rear it’s embarrassing and sobering head. Except, it does rear it’s head, it comes out in various ways. When someone gives us their opinion, we take it as rejection, when someone refuses your suggestion, we take it as rejection and when someone does not include you, we take it as rejection, regardless of the intent behind it.
So what does rejection have to do with our health?
Many of us eat and we don’t even know why we’re eating. We just know we ‘need’ something and we need it bad. Many of us never make the connection back to the feeling we experienced earlier on in the day, when we thought someone was talking about us, or when we’re not included in what we thought should have been an important decision. Instead of expressing these feelings, we stuff them deep down inside, but here’s the problem – feelings are meant to be felt, not fed!
Later in the day, when we’re now in the privacy of our own homes, the feelings start to well up again, but this time we’ve got the luxury of food to help stuff them back down. And this is the cycle that so many of us repeat each day. This cycle is what has so many of us overweight and out of touch with our feelings.
We eat instead of confronting our spouses, for fear of rejection; we eat after a stressful day at work when people got on our last nerve but we did not confront them, for fear of rejection; we eat instead of speaking up at church and end up taking on more than we can manage, for fear of rejection; we eat instead of saying no when a friend or co-worker asks us to do something we don’t want to do, for fear of rejection.
It gets so chronic that we often just eat and don’t know why we’re eating, but what if we were to take the time and seek the Holy Spirit? He will not only show us what’s at the root, but also give us a solution.
As I woke up from my dream, I was blessed by a colleagues post about rejection. I praise God for his timing because it ministered to that broken place in me.
Here are four strategies that I learned as a result of my experience, and my time in prayer. I pray that they are a blessing to you too.
1. Commit to Go Deeper
The next time you feel the desire to eat when you’re not hungry, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what’s at the root. Trust and wait for the answer. My dream occurred 2 days after the comment from my husband, but it was clear and it was God talking to me. My answer from Him was to ‘take off my rejection-tinted glasses and see the world and my experiences from God’s perspective.’
If you don’t know where to begin with going deeper, I encourage you to spend some time and meditate on this scripture in psalm 139:23, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” The answer may not come right away but I promise you, it will come.
Many of us wear our scars like proud tattoos even when we know what’s at the root. I made up a song to my husband’s words so that I could remember the pain of rejection. Why do we romanticize our pain? Why do we need to feel like a victim? My theory: it’s what we know. It’s comfortable to us because we’ve lived with it for so long. Experiencing anything other than rejection would contradict our song that we’ve been singing for so long. We know that song very well.
But what if we learned a new song? One that didn’t have the lyrics of a country song? What if we learned the lyrics to Pharell’s song, ‘Happy’?
Psalm 147:3 teaches us that there is healing for us. We can take our brokenness to God, He can and will restore us to wholeness. It’s necessary to experience the abundant life that Christ died for us to have, but we’ve get to commit to it. Most of us want to by-pass this stage. We just want to get to the good parts. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. We’ve got to put in the time.
Like peeling back the layers of an onion, there’s always more that we discover about ourselves, especially as God brings us to higher levels in him. We must strip away all of this dead weight, if we truly want to be free.
Forgiving my husband for his comments was the easy part. Then I heard the the Holy Spirit ask me, ‘have you forgiven your ex-husband?’ ‘Your son’s father?’ ‘Your own father for leaving you?’ ‘Have you forgiven yourself, for believing that everything that happened to you was somehow your fault?’ Forgiving my wrong-doers and myself…not so easy. Especially when the pain of their hurts will have a lasting impact on my future.
For many of us, we have to live with consequences of past actions for the rest of our lives. Without healing and forgiveness, other people’s mistakes will affect our future, our health, and our perspective on life. Without the inner working of the Holy Spirit, we will live in continual suffering from the sins of others and continue to see the world with the rejection tinted glasses on.
4. Commit to Love
As the Holy Spirit ministered to me as I awoke from my dream, these words that I once heard at a conference came into my thoughts, “I AM LOVED LAVISHLY BY GOD.” I repeated it over and over that morning.
I emphasized the word “I” first, then “loved,” then “lavishly,” then “God.” God loves me lavishly. Me? I said it until I actually started believing it. Then even more, until I was convinced of it. Then even more, until I was able to get myself out of bed and start my day without the sting of my dream, my husband’s comment, and the weight of all the memories that attached themselves on to it.
Now, as I look through the fridge and forage through the cupboards my thought is often, “what feelings am I trying to stuff?” To which my answer is often anger, frustration or rejection. I then ask God to fill me with his love. When you know that God truly loves you, then you can believe and receive all of His promises, and believe that they are for you. When you know that God truly loves you, then you can begin to love yourself, by taking care of your body AND not accepting rejection as your theme song.
I pray God’s peace and blessing over you as you take off your rejection-tinted glasses, and see yourself as your heavenly father sees you, healthy, whole and lavishly loved!!!