by Molly Audiss
You know what’s hard? Feeling Rejected. You know what else is hard? Feeling unappreciated. You know what else is hard? Feeling unwanted.
This article is a… “let’s sit down over coffee and discuss the things we’re not supposed to say out loud because we’re good Christians”….type of article. Total transparency.
Sometimes it just plain hurts when you feel like your family or your friends don’t care about your feelings. The “small stuff.” (If there is such a thing) I don’t mean the divorce, the death, the wayward child, the chronic illness- sized pain. That pain is real and huge and very public. That pain deserves its own article. Today I’m talking about the daily stuff, like: Your teenager wants to be anywhere except where you are. Your child doesn’t care how much inconvenience you go through to make their life run smoothly. Your husband doesn’t notice all the effort you put into making then cleaning up dinner. Your friend is never the one to initiate contact with you. Your boss only talks to you when he’s displeased about something. Your neighbor never waves back or even acknowledges you when you try to be friendly. Your church members forget that the hours and hours you put in for special events is completely volunteer, and they complain about things that you gave your own money to make happen!
I could write page after page of these “small” things that sometimes are the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Just one more little hurt on a day when you already carry a “big” hurt…and that could be all it takes to say- I’M DONE! I cannot take anymore. I give up!
Sometimes we don’t talk about these things because we’re supposed to be better Christians than that. We are supposed to be more mature and not let little things bother us. The problem with not discussing these issues is that, left unmentioned, we begin to think that everyone is handling life’s small problems so well- it must be us. We must be bad. Why don’t we just grow up and act like adults? No one else is struggling. (This is the point where the devil starts to shovel the lies at us.) By the time we finish over-analyzing the thing, we have come to the conclusion that there is something seriously wrong with us. Probably some childhood baggage; maybe some disorder out of our control. Should we get professional help? All this because your 16-year-old gave you that “teen” look when you asked him to eat the breakfast you made him. That was two hours ago. Now your searching “Christian counseling” on Google.
I am not making light (ok, maybe I am laughing at myself a little), but this is truly how we think some days. Do you know what has helped me get right thinking, once again, when my mind begins to go down the “it must be me” rabbit trail? Here’s what ALWAYS helps me. I think about examples from the life of Jesus. Literally, I think- what did Christ do? The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have counseled me through so many “wrong thinking” situations in my life! May I testify? This works!
1. When I begin to feel rejected, unappreciated, and unwanted, I think of how God handled those same feelings. He was constantly being made to feel that way by His people in the Old Testament. He would graciously give, rescue, provide, love, show mercy, grace, and kindness….and how did He get repaid? Over and over, the Jews would ignore, disobey, forget, and walk away from Him. How did He handle it?
First, let me say something that comforts me. God got frustrated! He got fed up with the way His chosen people acted toward Him. He got angry! At one point He simply refused to deal with them one more day! He told Moses that HE WAS DONE! Moses had to talk Him into staying with His people.
Does that encourage you? It encourages me! God understands how it feels when people do not respond to your efforts, your service, your care, your love. He was and is treated that way each and every day of the world! And no one deserves mistreatment less than our Loving Heavenly Father! He is the most generous, kind Father there is. Yet He is ignored and rejected, and I don’t just mean by the unsaved. I mean by ME (I wish I didn’t have to write that.) But stopping to think about this fact always pulls me out of my bad mood when I feel mistreated.
2. I am to respond the way God responds to rejection and ingratitude. I then think through Scripture. All through the Old Testament it was one cycle after another of fallen, sinful humans mistreating a Holy, perfect God. They would offend. He would distance Himself. They would cry out in need. He would forgive and rescue. He would graciously give. Then they would start to pull away again. In today’s language, it would be described as a toxic relationship. Many modern authors and authorities would advise the Lord to move on. He didn’t need that kind of negativity in His life. He deserved so much better. But our Perfect, Righteous God, Who is Love Himself, did just the opposite. He didn’t walk away. He came back with a permanent solution. He sent Jesus down to Earth as a baby in manger. Jesus, our way back to the Father. Jesus, our problem-solver.
Christmas is the example of what Unconditional Love and True Forgiveness looks like.
My friends, when the daily hurts of living with humanity come, and they will come….daily…. it’s okay to be frustrated and angry. God was! But we can’t stop there. We must pause and think of what God did after He was hurt (yet again)…. Love found a way to keep loving. We are called to live like Christ, through the power of God that works in us. Don’t quit on people. (That is what we are told to do, ‘for our own sake.’) But a baby in a manger has a better plan. Keep loving. Keep your heart open. Keep forgiving.
Love gets the final word. After every offense, love says, I will keep loving.
I will keep offering a way back. No, many will not accept that love. Millions have refused God’s perfect Love. God understands broken relationships; He can help you with yours. But His love is always at the ready, for anyone who wants to receive it. I want to be that kind of a person. I want to keep forgiving the daily offenses. I want to come back around, ready and willing to love those in my life.
This Christmas, what a beautiful gift we could offer Jesus for His birthday….The gift of modeling His love for the world in our decision to love those in our world. Love without end