Some people fear the craziest things. I read about rare phobias that grip some people. There are sufferers of peladophobia, which is the fear of baldness and bald people. Talk about the need for Rogaine! Others are seized by Aerophobia, the fear of drafts, or Odontophobia, the fear of teeth. Some have Chaetophobia, a fear of hairy people. There are even those plagued by Phobophobia, the fear of being afraid.
Perhaps our greatest fear is the fear of rejection. Our fear of heights or the dark will always pale in comparison to our fear of rejection. It is the fear of being rejected that tempts us away from advancing a new idea or innovation at the office. We are afraid of making the sales call. It scares us to confront an issue with our spouse or to discipline our children. We are afraid they will reject us, leaving us to feel alone and abandoned.
Why We Fear Rejection
God designed us for healthy and uplifting connectivity. We hunger for it. If we don’t experience a vital kind of acceptance in our lives our souls starve. An example of this can be found in the life of Leah an Old Testament character. She had experienced both rejection and the fear of it.
Leah was daughter to Laban and older sister to Rachel. When Jacob came to live with Laban he fell in love with Rachel, not Leah, and asked to marry her. Laban agreed on the condition that Jacob first work for him for seven years. The Bible gives some indication why Jacob chose Rachel over Leah. It says, “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.” (Genesis 29:17)
In the mid-east women were largely veiled and usually all a man might notice of a girl was her eyes. Leah did not have attractive eyes. We don’t know what made them unattractive. All we know is that her outward appearance was in noticeable contrast to the beauty of Rachel. Can you imagine the pain she felt when she was by-passed by Jacob? She tasted the bitterness of rejection.
For Leah it got even worse. After seven years of work there is a wedding. Jacob thinks he is marrying Rachel, but Laban does a switch and Jacob unknowingly marries Leah and in the darkness of the wedding chamber consummates the marriage with her. When morning comes Jacob is shocked to find Leah and argues with Laban about his bum deal. Then after enduring the traditional bridal week, Jacob marries Rachel the girl he loves “more than Leah,” and she becomes wife number two. (Genesis 29:30)
This poor girl experiences the wretched pain of her father’s rejection. Think about it. Her dad is communicating to her that she is a burden to get rid of. He is saying, “You are so unlovely that no one in their right mind would ever want to love you, so I must deceive someone into marrying you.” A parent’s rejection can be devastating to our self-esteem. Such rejection, once experienced, will instill in us a future fear of rejection.
Leah knew what it was like to feel alone in a crowd. She understood being rejected in the most vulnerable of circumstances and so do we. Maybe you haven’t been rejected like Leah, maybe you have.
Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places
What did Leah, afraid of further rejection, do? She first looked for love in the wrong place. She tried to find her primary source of acceptance in people. The Bible says, that God “saw that Leah was not loved” and so he opened her womb and she bore a child. (Genesis 29:31) The Lord, in the midst of all that rejection, was communicating to Leah his loving acceptance. He was saying, “Hey, I favor you. I love you!” But Leah didn’t get it.
Instead she looks to her husband saying, “Surely my husband will love me now.” (Genesis 29:32) But he didn’t. God gives her two additional children and again Leah clings to the fleeting hope that she will find acceptance from her husband. In every case she does not experience his love.
Today, a wife of a strained marriage gets pregnant and says, “This child will bring us together. He will love me now.” A young teenager clings to their boyfriend or girlfriend desperate not to loose their love and acceptance. So often we walk on eggshells in our relationships with people many times not being honest or confrontational about an important matter. We are afraid we will be rejected.
The problem is we seek love and acceptance primarily in people. No person, even the most loving, can ever truly meet our deepest need for acceptance and love. Love from people is indeed vital. We hurt without it. But our primary source should never be people. It should be God!
Leah finally received God’s ultimate acceptance, his eternal embrace. In it she found what she needed and moved beyond her fear to faith. When God granted her fourth child she stopped looking only to her husband, but now she looked primarily to the Lord for love. When the child was born, instead of saying “My husband will love me now,” she said “This time I will praise the LORD.” (Genesis 29:35) She stopped turning solely to her husband and children. She stopped looking to anything else. This time she allowed herself to fall into God’s embrace.
After this she no longer needed to fear rejection. That is not to say it would not hurt when she failed to receive Jacob’s affection. But now she could no longer be robbed of experiencing ultimate love. She now believed deeply that the Lord God had accepted her. When we, like Leah, choose to accept God’s acceptance of us we are empowered. We can face the risks of rejection. We can know that rejection will come but that the Lord will never reject us. Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:39)
Fulfill Your Devine Purpose!
When you accept that you are divinely accepted, you can confidently move forward in fulfilling your divinely given purpose. God has plans for us all. All of us have purpose in God’s Kingdom. So it was with Leah. When her fourth child is born, guess whom it was? Judah. Who is Judah? It would be through the line of Judah that Jesus Christ would come. Isn’t that amazing. She not only experienced the acceptance of God, but then we see that God uses her to bring in the family out of which would come the Savior of the World.
We all have fears. Most of us, to some extent fear rejection. But we must not allow such fears to prevent us from fulfilling God’s dreams for our lives. Life is too short and God’s affection for us to rich and unchanging to allow a fear to rob us. Fully receive God’s embrace and experience his ultimate fear eliminating acceptance.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of…love.” 2Timothy1:7
Question: How has God showed you that you need not succumb to the fear of rejection? You can leave a comment by clicking here.