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Learning from Jesus How to Deal with Rejection and Other Upset Emotions

Dr. David M. Oliver

Living Water LLC

January 2023

Rejection is a universal human experience. An unkind word from a parent, sibling, teacher, coach, or peer can be devastating. The comments may be made in a moment of anger or passing frustration. However, the impact of that single experience can last a lifetime. Add multiple rejections, and negative patterns of thinking and behavior can emerge to cope with that lingering, unresolved pain.

Attempts at coping with rejection can take many forms—isolation, loneliness, anger, bitterness, manipulation, replaying the experience in our minds, people pleasing, trying to measure up, vowing to be good enough to avoid future rejection, etc. Think about how you have dealt with rejection. Was it healthy or unhealthy? Did you get support or try to tough it out alone? Have you ever got stuck in feelings of rejection? Do you still have some wounds of rejection?

Rather than waste the experiences of rejection, I sought to learn what I could from them. In exploring rejection, we will often discover lies we have believed about God, ourselves, others, and the world. You may discover, as I did, that I had placed my sense of identity and security in how others responded to me. These were difficult but important realizations.

I carried a root of rejection most of my life. It caused me to feel very lonely, misunderstood, isolated, angry, and afraid. It was only when I had an encounter with Jesus that the root of that rejection was finally removed. In its place, Christ gave me a profound sense of secure identity that I had not known was possible.

One day I felt led to pray and ask the Lord Jesus about how he dealt with rejection. We know from Scripture that Jesus was despised and rejected. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted