Do you have a fear of rejection?
You know that feeling: the sick to your stomach, nauseous feeling.
It’s as if all of a sudden everything ever said of you is summed up in the person’s rejection of you.
It feels personal. It is personal.
If you have felt this emotion before, you have probably got a healthy dose of fear to go with it. A fear of rejection can strangle any dream, vision, or desire in your heart.
It can keep you from the very thing that God has called you to do. All because you have a fear of rejection.
For the last few weeks, we have been talking about our need for approval. We discussed how an approval addict acts. If you are new to this, go take this quick quiz to find out how you rank.
Then we talked about people-pleasing and discovered three ways in which you can quit that habit.
Next up was insecurity and I identified the cycle we can get caught up in when we seek the approval of others allowing our insecurities to get the best of us.
Then we talked about our control issues. Oh, approval addicts can be bad about this. We like to be in control and we like to know that the outcome is going to be people’s approval of us.
And the real challenge for us approval addicts is trying to not be offended when people don’t agree with us, affirm us, or approve of us the way we want them too.
So it only makes sense that this week we start to uncover what it takes to overcome a fear of rejection.
In 2011, I was confronted with my greatest fear. Death.
A CT scan revealed a carotid body tumor that needed to be removed from my neck. More specifically, the artery on the right side of my neck.
My doctor told me that I might want to live a bit longer before it was removed because removal may cause me to “bleed out.”
Yes, he said those words.
That was the first time I was ever overwhelmed by fear.
Fear that visited me in my daydreams and woke me in terror at night.
The fear of the “what ifs” was crushing me.
After much prayer and research, God led me to another doctor who had much more experience and faith in his expertise so that I did not “bleed out.”
However the surgery was a bit more complex than they thought and after 6.5 hours, 4 units of blood, and a grafted vein from my leg to complete the artery in my neck I woke up feeling like I was drowning in my own saliva.
Fear, yet again, consumed me.
Fear is a tricky emotion in that it not only can have power over your mind, but it can affect every part of your body.
My next days, weeks, and months to come were a battle. Most of which went on in my mind, working my way through overcoming fear.
So I know fear. Fear and I were friends for way too long of a time period and unfortunately can return as an unwanted guest from time to time.
Now, couple fear with a hefty dose of rejection and you have a recipe for disaster.
Overcoming the Fear of Rejection
Early in 2010, God gave me a vision for an organization that would initiate community transformation by ministering relationally to the poor.
Cullman, AL had been my home for a few short months when God laid this vision on my heart.
Most people I shared it with were not overly excited. In fact, their responses sounded more like this:
“No way would that work. People cannot get out of poverty.”
“If that did happen here, it would not be by you, a woman, only man with substantial power would be able to do that.”
“You don’t know people here. They won’t donate to your cause if they don’t know who your kin are.”
Each of these statements felt like an arrow stinging my pride. I wanted their approval, not their rejection.
I had to make a decision, would I choose to please people or trust God instead.
Kind of like what Jesus said in John 12:42-43:
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in [Jesus]. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
The Pharisees would not openly acknowledge Jesus because they were more concerned with human praise than they were God’s.
Which is at the core of our fear of rejection.
We don’t take risks, go after dreams, or accomplish our goals because we fear being rejected by people.
We will fear man and not do what God has told us to or we will fear God and accomplish the task He set for us to do.
But we must realize that in either scenario fear will propel us.
A Different What If
I want you to take a moment and consider those goals, dreams, visions you have and ask you a few questions.
- Are they goals/dreams/visions that will make God known?
- Do they feel too big to be achieved by you alone?
- Do you feel ill-equipped to accomplish them?
If you said yes, to all of these then I would say more than likely they are from God. It will do you well to fear Him and start taking steps forward.
But if you answered no, your focus is more on you than on God and you may want to pray about what you are trying to accomplish.
But here is the kicker, if that vision you have is from God, you have one more “what if” to ask yourself.
What if you don’t do the very thing He is calling you to do?
For me, that answer has become crystal clear. After six years now in the ministry, we serve more than 3,000 people a year.
We provided 18 different programs and services that extend to 23 different locations throughout our county.
Over 12,000 people’s lives have been impacted since we began.
I have my answer.
I’m thankful I chose the way I did.
You can too.
When you know who you are and whose you are, your identity no longer lies in whether or not that person says “yes” or “no” to your request.
You have a choice. God or Man. Who will you choose?