The Impact of Rejection

Of all the abuses it is possible to receive, rejection is thought to be the most severe, carrying with it the most extensive list of consequences. It sets in place, even from a very young age, feelings of poor self-worth and value, and tends to predict rejection from every relationship one endeavors to build. One who has suffered rejection as an infant or toddler is convinced that if parents who created them did not love and accept them, then certainly no one else will.

Even the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas and resurrection at Easter experienced rejection: “He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” His rejection by the people of His day led Him to the cross, where His ultimate rejection took place. There He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

There is a Biblical text which asks a question and then answers it:

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast–and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 40:15, 16.

While this is a wonderful scriptural promise, it is only with great difficulty, as a result of a recovery process, that a rejected human can claim and cling to that promise. A rejected husband whose wife rejects his sexual advances one time, is so wounded that he can call up all his past rejections within seconds (especially if he was rejected by his mother) and storm out of the house. He may find and pay a prostitute and have relations with her, not even realizing that what he is experiencing is temporary acceptance, even if it only lasts for that hour.

We once knew a man name Tom who had never known acceptance. His father had left his wife once he discovered she was pregnant, and thus Tom’s mother raised him alone. Her desperation–emotionally, physically and financially–was literally taken out on the boy. She would sit on him as a toddler, screaming obscenities and beating him. Would you think that he could, as a teen and adult, be able to receive and give love? Absolutely not! He was sure that most experiences and relationships in his life were rejecting him, and he therefore responded by rejecting everyone, wife and children especially. He became addicted to possessions, the only comfort he knew.

Studies by Dr. Carlos Garelli from the University of Buenos Aires determine that the majority of incarcerated criminals have experienced profound rejection in childhood, and the anger displayed is revenge toward those guilty of his/her rejection.

It is true: rejection is considered to be the most severe abuse. It infects every relationship of life and is the cause of hand-me-down rejection of others.


– If you experienced rejection, or what you perceive was rejection, in your early years, do you recall acting out as a teen or adult in revenge for the love you did not receive?
– Have you ever found someone who has not rejected you? How, specifically, did you try to get them to reject you so that you could feel “normal?”


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