Rejection and Forgiveness
Our Catholic faith tells us that Jesus understands all our pain because he also experienced it. This is especially true of rejection.
Throughout our lives we will experience rejection. The most painful rejection comes when we are rejected by loved ones. Jesus experienced this when his apostles abandoned him on the night before he was crucified. He experienced this when Judas betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver, and when Peter denied him three times.
Yes. Jesus understands rejection.
Confronting the Roots of Addiction
For many people in recovery, the roots of their addiction go back to key points of rejection in their lives. Often this rejection is from family and friends.
To cope with the pain of rejection, many may self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, food, video games, or sex and pornography. In this situation, ending the addictive behaviors means addressing the rejection and the pain associated with it.
This requires forgiveness.
To demonstrate this, let me share a time in my life when I experienced the deep pain of rejection.
A Personal Example
Several years ago, I had a business associate. We’ll call him Dave. We worked together on several projects and occasionally traveled together on business. I viewed him as a friend.
At some point, Dave started to become very distant and aloof. He began avoiding me. He wouldn’t return emails or phone calls. This is known as “ghosting.” I was confused. I kept wondering what I had done to hurt or anger him.
I finally confronted Dave about this while we were at a conference. Although he admitted he had been distant and aloof, he never gave me a clear reason for his behavior. I apologized for whatever I had done to hurt him and encouraged him to talk to me if I ever did anything to hurt him in the future. He agreed and I thought we had reconciled.
Unfortunately, Dave’s rejection of me continued. Eventually, I had to accept that Dave simply didn’t want to work with me anymore. This was a very painful pill for me to swallow. However, I had to accept this reality.
For a while, I carried a lot of anger and bitterness toward Dave. However, I knew that carrying this anger and bitterness wasn’t healthy for me. In order to heal, I had to forgive Dave.
Forgiving him didn’t mean that I deserved to be rejected or that Dave’s behavior was somehow justified. It simply meant that I was letting go of the anger and bitterness I’d been holding onto. I decided it no longer served me to allow Dave to “live rent-free in my head.”
Steps Toward Forgiveness
To help me forgive Dave, I began praying for him daily. Knowing Dave’s history, I realized there were many deep emotional wounds that he struggled with. I worked to understand his woundedness and the need for healing. This led to an increase in compassion for him.
Gradually, I realized that a healthy person wouldn’t have treated me the way he had. He would’ve been open to discussing and resolving our conflict. As my compassion for him grew, I was able to slowly let go of my anger toward him.
I still pray for Dave and for his healing. Although I doubt we’ll ever work together again, I hope that someday Dave and I can be friends once more. Until then, I’ll leave him in God’s hands for healing. I know that I’ll probably experience rejection again in my lifetime, but now, because of my experience with Dave, I know how to accept it, heal from it, and move on.
So, if you are hurting because of rejection, ask God daily to help forgive the person who rejected you. You may need to let go of that relationship and grieve the loss. Think about that person’s woundedness. This can help you to grow in compassion for that person. This can ultimately lead you to forgive the person who rejected you. Then, you’ll be able to focus on building up healthy relationships in your life.
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