I was sitting with a client this week who was telling me how his brothers ganged up on him when he was younger, and stole from him, and I said “There is a story in the Bible about a man named Joseph…” and proceeded to tell him the story. This client has a long history of feeling left behind, and rejected, and it has crippled him emotionally, and kept him from moving forward in his life. When he first came to me, he did not talk or make eye contact. He was literally just existing. I know the feeling; I have been there. Hopelessness destroys like nothing else. Addiction itself is not a disease, it is a symptom. All of our prepackaged programs are good (well, some of them) but not sufficient when it comes to healing and restoring broken people. Programs provide structure and stability (hopefully) but we can’t look at completing a program as evidence of recovery, any more than we can look at a degree or license as evidence of skill or ability. It just means you have checked off all your little boxes and jumped through the required hoops.
A long time ago, I had to fill out a questionnaire for a ministry class to define the ‘theme’ of my life; what would become the foundation of my testimony. Not surprisingly, the pain of rejection was the over-arching theme, followed closely by grief, insecurity, shame, disappointment and loneliness. Rejection is not at all the same as abandonment. If I abandon you, that says something about me. Abandonment means “my attention was here, but is now over there; it never was about you in the first place.” If I reject you, it says something about you. “Something is wrong with you, and/or I no longer want to be bothered with you.”
Rejection hurts; it destroys identity. At its worst, it is abusive (targeted, mean-spirited, hurtful) at best, it just means that “now that I know you……” well, you get the picture. Abandonment, I can get over. I will survive perfectly well on my own. God never leaves or forsakes me, so I will always be okay in the end. The problem with rejection is that if it happens enough, it leads to self-rejection, and shame.
Evidences of Self-Rejection:
- Over-attention on clothing
- Inability to trust God
- Excessive shyness
- Difficulty in loving others
- Wishful comparisons with others
- Floating bitterness
- Attitude of superiority
- Awkward attempts to hide unchangeable defects
- Wrong priorities
There is no feeling like the pain of rejection. The only cure for it is being loved by those who will not reject you. Sometimes, that leaves just you and God. Until you know how very much you are loved, with all your flaws and weaknesses, and that you are welcome in the throne room of Heaven, rejection, and the subsequent shame, will always be the one weapon the enemy knows he can knock you out of the game with. And this is where we are left with our clients. In a state-funded program, we can only bring them so far. It does take a certain level of emotional health and stability to grow spiritually (as our culture measures growth) which is why Jesus fed people first, then He taught them. All through the Bible, the practical wisdom of God is nourishment and rest; preferably in solitude, or away from the crowd and the noise and chaos of everyday life. This is where healing happens, and strength is renewed.
Okay, people. Let’s do Saturday. Be blessed.
“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the West shall be your territory.” (God establishes and expands our borders when our hope is in Him) “No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so shall I be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:1-7