“We don’t need you there.” A simple sentence. Five words. Five syllables. However, in my brain the interpretation of this sentence was anything but simple.
It unleashed a flood of uncertainty. My brain instantly fired off locator arrows that traveled to past rejections in my memory. Past hurt was pulled into this current conversation. Suddenly, I wasn’t hearing “We don’t need you there.” I was hearing, “You aren’t wanted.”
Rejection always wants to steal the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me.
The best of who I am was certainly not the one interpreting this comment.
The most hurt version of me took what was said and added pages of commentary. This additional dialogue highlighted my insecurities, brought to mind all the many reasons I was surely being excluded, and vilified the person who uttered those five words that started this whole thing.
Suddenly, this person was unsafe. She was insensitive. And worst of all, I pictured her rallying others to believe the worst about me as well.
I blinked back my tears. I swallowed the long-winded speech I was dying to spew in retaliation to her hurtful proclamation. And with a simple, “Okay,” I walked to my car.
Later that night I retold my husband the whole story. With great emotion and lots of added commentary, I gave him the play-by-play. Finally, I paused long enough to catch my breath and fully expected him to jump right in with a rally cry of absolute support and an offer to rush to my defense.
Instead he said, “Lysa, what else might she have meant by her statement? Is there any chance she didn’t intend to hurt you, but rather was just simply stating the fact that they had enough people participating and you didn’t have to feel the pressure to attend?”
I shot back, “Oh no, I’m telling you this was so much more than that.”
Right as I was about to unleash another dramatic retelling of the whole situation, he wrapped me in a hug and said, “Lysa, just make sure you aren’t holding her accountable for words she never said. She didn’t say you weren’t wanted. She didn’t say you weren’t capable. She didn’t say others were thinking the same way as her. She simply said they didn’t need you there.”
I wish I could tell you my attitude turned around immediately upon hearing his wisdom bomb. It didn’t. I continued to stew the rest of that night and may have given my sage husband the cold shoulder.
But the next morning, I dared to consider what he’d said. I called the gal who I’d spoken to the day before and asked a few questions. And in the end, I realized there was absolutely no agenda behind her statement at all.
In fact, she thought she was doing me a favor by assuring me that I wasn’t needed so that I wouldn’t feel pressure to have to be gone from home during that very busy season.
This situation happened 8 years ago, but I think about it often. It taught me 3 perspectives that I don’t want to forget:
1. When I’m tired or stressed, I’m more likely to interpret interactions with others way more emotionally than I should. Therefore, I should wait to respond until I’ve had a chance to rest and de-stress. A depleted girl can quickly become a defeated girl when she lets emotions dictate her reactions.
2. Believe the best before assuming the worst. Even if they didn’t have my best interest in mind, they probably didn’t have the worst intentions either. Regardless, being positive will keep me in a much better place.
3. Clarify. Clarify. Clarify. When in doubt, I should ask them to help me understand what they truly meant. And when I clarify I must recognize and resist adding any additional commentary my past hurt has added to this situation.
Can you think of a situation in your life where these perspectives might help? I certainly haven’t perfected making these perspectives the first thing I think of when I’m in an uncertain situation. But at least I do think of them. And that’s great progress, so feelings from yesterday’s rejections don’t take away from today’s relationships.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Just reading this post took me back into some conversations I’ve had with people or comments I have received that totally derailed me when, in reality, they were not intended to harm in any way. When the wounded me hears things, I really need to pass it through a Truth based filter in order to hear what is REALLY being communicated. This post was me to a “T”. I say “was” because I am learning not to assume the worst as much as I used to. Old habits are hard to break, but In Christ’s strength I’m learning not to let the ears of the “old” me dictate what I hear and attempt to assimilate. Wonderful post!!
This truly bless me. I suffer with the spirit of rejection and I always assume folks wont like me or folks will think im odd looking or I assume I am not good enough or smart enough, because aunts or uncles, etc told me these things. And it felt true, because I failed twice in elementary school (due to illness I missed alot of school) and folks always told me I was unattractive or dumb. But I remember a sermon my Pastor preached, he said ” if you feel these things, Satan will continually put people in your path to reinforce how you feel or what was said to you before, to keep you in a spirit of bondage and rejection”. And its true, I always found friends, boyfriends and coworkers to treat me how I felt. So I always felt unworthy and that I was dealt a bad hand. I have grown alot and God is continually been been healing me of this stuff.
Wow oh Wow Sonjia! Your response sure did speak to me! I never thought about the fact that Satan was putting people in my path to reinforce how I feel. This is a very powerful statement! I’ve copied and pasted it and sent it to a friend and I’m going to copy and paste it and save it on my computer as a reminder!!!!!!!
Thanks for sharing!
I wrote what I said pure of of emotion, I almost erased it after I thought about it, but now I am glad I didnt erase it. After all we are all here to help and encourage each other.
Susan R. says
Sonjia!! I pray that GOD in his strength will keep putting people in your path that tell you that you are a worthy, loved, beautiful, talented, gifted Child of God and person of worth! At my church we call that a COGPOW!! So tell yourself that, because Gods’ word says it’s true!
Thank you so much
Beth Williams says
Praise God for your pastor speaking truth over your situation!
That was God gently telling you He loves you and to not listen and believe those lies! You are a beautiful masterpiece knit together by God! I pray God will send many people your way to reinforce that you are a beautiful Child of God made in His image! You are smart talented and very capable! He loves you and so do we!!
Thank U Beth. I believe that.
Thanks for sharing this. I need to remember your pastor’s words!
Heather Shaw Mandala says
When situations like these occur I try to reflect on the person’s character. I ask myself if this is consistent with what I know of this person. Have they given me reason to doubt their intentions or friendship previously? Could there be alternative ways to interpret our exchange?
It is a slippery slope to crazy town and a much harder climb back up. The more I can do to keep from toppling down that slope of resentment and bitterness the better off I am!
Jenni DeWitt @ Genuflected.com says
My Lutheran friend told me Martin Luther interpreted the commandment about not bearing false witness as saying we should always assume people mean what they say in the best possible way. I’ve gone back to that interpretation several times since she told me that, and your post reminds me to keep doing that. Thanks!
Julie Wallace says
Lysa……are you sure your name isn’t really Julie!!!! 🙂 I love reading your blogs and your encouragements. It amazes me that I read them at the exact time I need them. God has put you here to do great things!!! Have an awesome day!!!
Love in Christ,
Jennifer Waddle says
Lysa, it is so easy to feel wounded! Thank you for being so transparent with your own struggles. That is what I appreciate most about you.
J. Johnson says
I got a call last week that said myself and about 12 coworkers would not have a job after 11 months. I got so afraid. I started to panic. Who will pay my mortgage, my daughter is in college! All of the sudden I grabbed my laptop and started looking for other jobs to apply for. I took it personal. I don’t want to work for people who don’t appreciate all my hard work. If they don’t want me I don’t want to work for them! Lysa, I came across a job I have wanted for over 10 yrs. The timing was off for 10 yrs. Finally everything has come together. My kids are older now, I don’t have a degree but now the job says no degree needed if you have 4 years of experience. Perfect! I don’t know if I have the job yet but I certainly applied for it. I haven’t completed a resume since 1998! I was complacent in my last job not to mention very unhappy and unfulfilled the last couple of months. I look back now it was God getting me uncomfortable for my next assignment. It’s not personal. I kept asking God for a promotion not knowing how He’d do it. This job is a huge promotion for me. I am trusting God more and growing closer to Him because of this. I encourage so many people by not being negative about this. Not being angry but just trusting God. He knows what my family needs. I choose to trust God through this! The other way worrying, being anxious, fearful that doesn’t work! Trusting God is my only option. Jonava
Anne Watson says
It’s as if you are in my head. Also, I will be using the statement ‘wisdom bomb’ from now on. Genius.
AMEN!!! Just amen and thank you!
Gail Noe says
Love it! I had suffered from the spirit of rejection since a tiny child. I didn’t know any better. Now that it is much later in my life (I am 78) the Lord has been very gracious in changing my heart and mind by Truth. This post came at a perfect time as the Lord is taking me through a season to defeat the spirit of rejection by the power and love in God’s Word and mostly through my relationship to the Lord. It is all about relationship. If the enemy can get me off focus, instead of my relationship, he can steal my purpose in life. Our communion with the Lord is our power source. What He says, I am. I have willingly spent a lot of time in God’s presence and Word. What a difference in the way I see and hear! It is not finished yet, but each day I am more than able to make a strong stand on what God says, not Satan. Thank you Jesus!!!!!
Gail Noe says
An attack from Satan by the spirit of rejection, does not make one a reject.
Shauna Viele says
Amen! Well said!
Amen. In Lysa’s case, the Rejection was in HER mind, but it’s totally Different When the rejection REALLY IS coming from the outside!
Lately, I’ve had to fight it from BOTH SIDES. Truth that I’m learning is that I’m still so insecure in who HE IS IN ME!
But, when I believe who I am in Him, What out! I’ll be able to shake off the snake bite whether it’s coming from the lies within or the lies from the World.
Gail Noe says
Keep making a firm stand in the faith of saying who God says you are. The power of the Word of God will do a mighty work and you will become who God says you are loved by Him and filled with His love. His words have great power and so do ours. When God spoke, creation took place! Isaiah 55, My words shall not return to me void. May His joy fill your heart!
Thank you, so much Gail reading now. The devil has been attacking me for sooo long in this area and more than I can count!
I must be making a dent in his kingdom! Working on Whom I Am in Christ Is A Must. The Battle is Lost without it!
Gail Noe says
God knows where you are and if you are ready to destroy the giants in your land. He tests your faith so you will know if you are ready to slay the giants. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3 You must read the Word, meditate the Word, ask for revelation of the Word and then you will live the Word and experience the promises in your life.
Rhoda Mullet says
Thanks for your wisdom Lysa! This has been part of my story… the lengths the enemy goes to to trash our heart and passion is crazy!!! Thanks for sharing!!
True. Although we know it, he is so sneaky and life is so everyday that we often get sucker punched!!!!
Lysa, your post so resonated with me. Rejection has been a lifelong wound. God has shown me that He is using this thorn in my flesh to draw me closer to Himself. It’s so hard not to look at circumstances through the filter of rejection!
You have a wise husband. I love the questions he asked you. Such good things to consider, especially when our minds are wrapped in circles of my commentary! It’s always good to have someone who can broaden our perspectives. 🙂
Your three suggestions makeso much sense. I’m copying them down to remind me how to deal with rejection the next time it rears its head in my thoughts.
LOVED your post!
I LOVE all of this. It is such great advise, but how do I react when that person actually MEANT to say what she said. It was told loud and clear. What do I do when she tells me off at a Women’s Retreat (she is also the Women’s ministry leader) and backs out of throwing my baby shower a few days later because she’s upset. My natural tendency is to respond by telling her exactly how I feel about her and to put that final nail in the coffin to end the relationship for good. Instead, I have prayed and prayed and every devotional I have read over the past week has talked about letting God defend you when you are criticized and have been wrongly treated. It is so hard to keep my mouth shut when I am so incredibly angry. I have searched my own heart to look for ways that I could have contributed to making her upset and there is only one thing that I did that would have upset her. I apologized to her, but that didn’t help anything. What now?
Shauna Viele says
Keep praying. Realize that she also is a child of God, and for whatever reasons, Satan is using her as a tool. Don’t allow him to win!
It’s so hard sometimes, especially when our emotions want to get the best of us. Sounds like this has been very painful for you. Prayers for resolution and reconciliation.
Thank you Shauna. I will continue to do the right thing by keeping quiet and praying through it. Thank you for your prayers.
Shauna Viele says
You are most welcome! Have been on both ends of this…the misunderstanding, the misunderstood, and somewhere in between at times as well.
Nancy Gladwin says
I believe you’ve walked the path you speak and write about, I believe you’ve shed every tear. There was a reason for this and now what you write resonates with me and others who’ve gone down those same paths. Thanks for sharing from the heart.
Ms. Understood says
I’m the one who’s been vilified and misunderstood …. How do I pursue peace without making it look like an apology for words spoken that were misunderstood. During the heat of our conversation, I truly tried to assure the hearer that was not what I was implying at all. Help! … I am open to ideas here… I really do want to pursue peace without digging a pit of more doubt in the offended’s mind.
I would pray and search your heart before the Lord. Can you circle back to the hearer now, when things have settled down? Although you can assure the hearer again that you didn’t mean to offend, I would ask questions rather than trying to defend yourself. Ask, “How did you hear this? Are there things I have done or said in the past that led you to interpret this negatively, or not trust me? How could I handle a situation like this better in the future?” Conflict is so hard. I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I hope this helps.
Ms. Understood says
Thank you Laura… Your words do help. I will continue to pray and ask how I could be more gracious. Honestly, I’m afraid this person is severely insecure and will lay low for awhile.
Confrontation is painful and I could go my whole life without exposing my heart like I did.
I’m so, so sorry for the pain you’ve experienced! It is so hard to be misunderstood. God knows your heart though. I hope you can take courage in that.
Shauna Viele says
Prayers sister. Have been there myself and it is a hard place to be in. I agree with Laura, praying is the first thing. Sometimes we just have to let go and let God do the rest even when we have apologized (or tried to explain ourselves–that’s a trip in itself right there!)
I recently had a situation that is similar. Long story short, what I said did not convey what I really meant, and the hearer totally misunderstood me, but said nothing at the time. Instead, I heard about it through an official complaint that she filed at work. In the conference that ensued, I had to defend myself to my boss and in writing. The individual is not in my direct department, but the one or two times I have run into her elsewhere, she turns her head away and refuses to speak. So I cannot even try to clarify or undo what has been done. I did learn a very large lesson about thinking before speaking!
So, with all of that said, my prayer for you is that whatever happened, a lesson has been learned and perhaps there can be a positive growth from it for you.
Carey Bentson says
Shauna….thank you for your insight. I am sorry that you also had to go through a similar misunderstanding. Thank you also for your prayers…..I am realizing a real growth spurt from all of this.
First, I know that the well-spring of my heart will be the source of whatever I say and do, so my responsibility is to make sure that I allow the Holy Spirit to keep me pure at heart. At the moment this seems like an uphill climb for me to constantly turn my thoughts of what went wrong into a whispered prayer and trust that God’s got this covered.
The second thing I’m learning is that with a pure heart comes compassion and love for the one who is difficult. I am hopeful that even if the offended one never gets over it, at least I am no longer a slave to unsolicited guilt or bitterness toward that person.
Thank you again for sharing with me and for your prayers….we are in this together! Carey (aka, Ms. Understood)
Rebecca Jones says
I understand your predicament, Ms. Understood. I made a situation worse by explaining. Even if the other person s a Christian, our faith levels and maturity are different. Sometimes, they are at a different level of attack of the enemy and can’t see your point or let go of the offense. I would pray for the person to find the peace. Hope that helps.
Carey Bentson says
Rebecca…your comments resonate with me this morning….I have had praise and worship music in the background, praying, praising, and have a heart to intercede on my offended one’s behalf as well as for my own thoughts about the situation.
I agree that to go back and try to explain it over again may cause the hurt to deepen instead of heal. So now my plan of attack on this is to be a prayer warrior and have a pure heart for when we have our next encounter.
Thank you for your prayers and words….both help very much….Carey (aka, Ms. Understood 😉 )
Rebecca Jones says
This is a wonderful story and Sonja is right about the devil putting people in your path to hurt you, but the Lord will put the people there for you to minister to. I like the word clarify, often we say things innocently and are not trying to be offensive or insensitive. We don’t automatically “read” people as rejected, wounded or sensitive. If people are disparaging, it cuts to the quick, I know. Don’t argue with the devil or his minions or people ignorant enough to lend him their voice. Jesus loves you, the fact that you belong to Him makes you valued. and as for believing the best, I agree. But I have also given people the benefit of the doubt and with painful results. People with addictions are expert liars, I found it difficult to deal with them, I’m especially fond of reaching out to the readers of iincourage. And I have been the depleted and defeated girl, so rest in His love and finished work.
Shauna Viele says
Oh my goodness! I do believe you and I are sisters from different parents! This post tells an all too familiar story for me. Thank you for sharing honestly!
This is always such a challenge – both hearing clearly what others are saying, but also prioritizing what God says about us above all else. I like what Brené Brown suggests – “Share the story you think you’re hearing to make sure you’re interpreting correctly.”
Dolores Leal says
I understand. But there are people who ignore others and that silent treatment hurts to the core. Phones are blocked; people move and do not say where they live. Yes, these examples are mine, but rejection is real. I know you are not saying it isn’t. Our Lord was rejected! Still, the pain is real. Rejection is real. I will be fifty and I feel forgotten. I do not want to sound as if I am full of self pity. I just need prayers…. And a few hugs now and then 🙂
Peace and love to you.
Gail Noe says
A quote I use often and actually framed for each of my daughter’s in law….”Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by carelessness”.
THANKS for writing this!
Karina Allen says
Thanks you for this Lysa! Gah! That’s me too! I think I hear things that people aren’t saying all the time! I am bad about replaying conversations in my mind over and over again. The more I rehearse, the more it becomes. I’m prone to think that I care more about other people than they care about me. So, I see rejection way more often than I should. Lord, help me!
Beth Williams says
I’m so like you we could be twins! When someone says not needed–I hear “you’re dumb, stupid, un capable, don’t even try”! This is always followed by tears and a bit of anger!! Yes, like you said usually happens when I’m tired and not thinking right. My loving hubby will give me hugs and tell me the good qualities about myself! I also realize that when I’m not tired or stressed I can process things more clearly! Do I still get upset–sure– but I’m a lot calmer about it!
R. M. Jackson says
Amen. That’s wisdom, right there.
Kelley Oakley Morgan says
I am going through this very thing right now! I am reading Psalms from beginning to end. It has helped me so much because just like David my emotions have been up and down. Misunderstandings can lead to so much hurt and insecurity. I am learning to trust the Lord and he is giving me peace that surpasses all my understanding. At the same time this is a hurt only God can heal that just like you has came from a place inside me that has past hurt and rejection. Than you Lysa for sharing God knew I needed to hear this tonight!
Aleisha Allen Utterback says
Once again, your wisdom and transparency have added amazing, balanced things to my life. I appreciate you and your gifts.
Rachel J Pool says
This is so much what I needed today. Thank you so much!
Kathy Hart says
just prayed last night for help with my reactions/defensiveness. i canoverthink a pb&j sandwich…..ty for this Lisa….and Father Lord God!!!
Loved this. Sometimes I think the worst when the people actually didn’t intend to come off the way I assume. I am a work in progress I guess. My mom always reminds me to assume the best unless they actually intentionally say it.
Steve Simms says
Yes. We should always assume the best. And even if someone meant the worst, we can realize that they acted out of their own hurt.
Your thoughts resonate deeply. My mind…and heart…just came back from a series of flashbacks of times when I felt exactly this way. About 3 weeks ago a friend came to me to say how excited she was to be invited to so-n-so’s anniversary party. She was sure my husband and I were invited too. But we are neighbors and we hadn’t heard anything about it. We serve in the same ministry. Nothing. I didn’t even mention it to my husband because I was sure my friend was wrong. We’very been uninvited before and it is painful. Anyway, my husband did receive an email invitation a few weeks later. We will go. Honestly, the invite feels obligatory. Pray I am wrong. His will is perfect.
What a beautiful thought. So often I look for love or validation in others and one simple statement can hurt my feelings and take a toll on my heart. If I were quicker to see them as Christ sees them, I would have more faith and hope in others resulting in stronger relationships and less tears. So well said!