by: Staci Stallings
It’s truly amazing what the fear of rejection will drive us to do. When we’re young, we call it peer pressure, but does it ever truly go away?
As we wind through the things which keep us from God and keep us from going to the well, fear of rejection must be included in the list. This one goes by many names: peer pressure, people pleasing, and trying to gain approval.
In this one, Satan uses our God instincts against us. God created us in His image and likeness. One of the most predominant aspects of God is the personification of relationship. God the Father and Jesus have such a deep love for each other that that love becomes the Holy Spirit which is a Person unto Itself.
We are built for relationship. We crave relationship. We seek and hold onto relationships.
I believe that’s why this fear is so insidious. Satan uses our primal instinct of connection to convince us that doing things that go “against the grain” will necessarily result in our being excluded from relationship. It is that threat, that fear, that often drives us to do things that are frankly not in our best interest.
We join organizations and then stay in them because we don’t want to hurt feelings. We say yes to everything, afraid that our no would result in others not wanting to be around us. We try and work and do and run to be a part of everything offered. And when someone is upset, our instinct is to do whatever we have to to “fix it.”
Oh, yes, fear of rejection drives many people to make very bad decisions.
Think about how this fear runs through so many Biblical stories. Moses didn’t want to go to Pharaoh because he was not a good speaker (they might laugh). Martha turned her heart into a panic playground because Jesus and some guests showed up.
And we do that too–telling God to choose someone else because we don’t want to be embarrassed. Thinking our houses have to be perfect if anyone comes over.
This one dovetails nicely with the pursuit of perfection one. We so fear rejection that we pursue perfection as if it is the answer to all of life’s struggles.
But here’s the thing… think about what following God leads to — rejection by the world.
The world will tell you to be worth something, you must be “accomplished.”
God says you are worth something because He made you.
The world says you have to do, do, do.
God calls you to just be who you were made to be and to rest in Him.
The world sneers if you are content with whatever you have.
God says in Him you have all you need.
The world says, “buy, buy, buy” to be happy.
God says happiness is simply resting in Him.
The world says pleasure is the ultimate pursuit.
God says your reward for obeying Him will be found in Heaven.
And on and on.
One day my daughter came in to my office to talk, and she talked and she talked and she talked. She told me how others in her class were incredibly immature, how they often took pleasure in others’ pain, how their idea of fun was often destructive or dangerous.
She lamented with overflowing tears how they had cut her out of things because she wouldn’t go along with what they wanted to do.
Oh, you can be sure, she fully understood the fear of rejection at that point.
I pointed out to her that the 8th Beatitude says that if we follow God, we will be persecuted. That’s not just some words Jesus spoke. It’s the truth.
But here’s the thing, when you are rejected by the world, you are embraced by the Kingdom.
So stop letting the fear of rejection hold you back from being all God made you to be. Step out boldly in His Name with what your heart is saying to do.
The first step to doing this is to take that fear of rejection to the well and truly, leave it there. Only then will you really be free.