My Bible study just finished Lysa Terkeurst’s latest study, “Uninvited”, and overall, we thought it was a timely and relevant topic–as we learned, we can label way more of our experiences in life as rejections than we originally thought. I enjoyed the video sessions with Lysa–my favorite part is that she filmed it in the actual places of the Scripture she reads–for example, she speaks about the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, and as someone who may never have the opportunity to ever visit these Holy grounds, it certainly put stories in perspective as she spoke. The whole premise behind the book is to change your perspective when you feel rejected; rather than entertaining feelings of unworthiness and disappointment, we should remind ourselves that God is always at work, we emerge better, stronger, wiser people out of heartache, and that sometimes, the rejection we feel is not purposeful or personal at all, and we cannot blame the sinner, but rather the sin.
For example, ’tis is the job hunting season, especially in the education world. A rejection from a position might bring up these feelings of rejection and unworthiness–we might say to ourselves, “How could I allow myself to screw up that interview?”, or, “What is wrong with me?”. Lysa, however, would encourage us to shift our thinking away from feeling less than, and reminding ourselves that God always has a greater plan for us, and that perhaps we had an excellent interview and we hold excellent credentials, and there is nothing actually wrong with us, but that they went with another candidate instead.
Or, in terms of dating–when we don’t get asked back for a second, we start over analyzing and asking ourselves, “Did I say something wrong?”, “Did he think I smelled bad?”, “Does my family not come from a wealthy enough family?”–we give power to the person who rejected us, thinking that there must be something wrong with us, when in reality, perhaps it just wasn’t a good fit, perhaps they are still getting over their ex girlfriend, perhaps they are insecure and feel intimidated by us–and so perhaps it has nothing to do with us, and our worth at all, and has everything to do with them.
Within the six weeks, we found ourselves drudging up more examples of rejection than we initially thought we ever had. These stemmed anywhere from rejection from parents to rejection from classmates, rejection from siblings and significant others, jobs and teams, and the longer we did the study, the more we talked about it, the more rejections we found. As Terkeurst points out in her book, sometimes our self-conscious, insecure perceptions of a situation are totally different than the way the person intended. Like, perhaps my dad wasn’t really making fun of my long leg hair when I was 12, but since I was self conscious and insecure, I took it offensively. Or, perhaps that girl didn’t invite me to her wedding, not because she didn’t like me, but because she had other pressures–a tight budget, an insistent mother in law, she knew I was in another wedding that weekend. Maybe I wasn’t asked to be on that committee, not because I’m not qualified and they don’t think I’d do a good job, but simply because they needed to give someone else the hours to be considered ‘full time’.
We spent a lot of time also discussing how one seemingly minute comment could really wound us for a lifetime. We might think of a time that our parents made fun of our long, pre-pubescent leg hair, or when a classmate made fun of us liking broccoli, or when a boy we liked made a comment about how we say “orange” in a strange way–and we carry those wounds into our adult lives, and we anxiously shave our legs every day, we refrain from eating broccoli in public, or we never say “orange” around other people–all because of some small comment someone made to us when our identities and self-perceptions were forming. And, so when we are raising our own children or interacting with other people’s children, I think this puts a moral responsibility on us to ensure we are being mindful of the comments we make. Of course, we will never be perfect and we can never guess how people will react, and we certainly will make a seemingly innocent comment that someone takes as rejection, but I think just being mindful and conscious of how we speak to others will curve many of these feelings of rejection.
And, we also discussed times in which we may have made someone else feel rejected. Like Lysa points out, there are many instances in which we take things out of context, and certainly there have been times when we, ourselves, made other people feel rejected–not inviting them to social events and then posting pictures all over the place –we are always so good at blaming others that I think it was a productive discussion to recognize that we, ourselves, are guilty of those same sins–a humbling realization, and a good reminder for me to consider the next time I feel ‘rejected’.
If I were being super critical of the study, I would say–skip the study guide and just read the book and watch the DVD’s (we felt like many of the questions in the study guide were redundant and we often ended up skipping them), and I would say that, while the study was six weeks long, we probably could have condensed all of our thoughts about rejection into four weeks. But, overall, I would still recommend the study!