Blessings of Singleness#4: The Pain of Rejection

When I was a little girl, I never associated being alone with being rejected.  I loved my time alone because it involved hours of acting out my fantastical imagination with princesses and palaces without interruption.

I’m not so different now than I was then.   I still love finding time away from the world. I love coffee shops and talking to God out loud and I love the freedom that being alone affords.  However, if I’m not careful, my heart will distort and twist reality so that I believe being alone equals being rejected.  On too many days my joy of aloneness is sabotaged by the painful realization that I am alone because I am no one’s favorite.

While I’m embarrassed to admit it, there are days where singleness feels like that middle school playground.  You watch your friends around you get picked for teams, and you just keep waiting and wondering – when will I be picked?

In my ideal world, everyone would get to be someone’s favorite.  The pain of rejection in singleness comes in the unbalanced nature of relationships.  I have people who are my favorites.  They are my dearest and nearest friends – my top priorities outside of Jesus.  The thing is, they have husbands and children.  And so, I’m not their favorite.  These people are my family, but I’m not their family.  And that’s painful.

The problem is that you and I are broken.  We are insecure and afraid and we were created to have worth spoken into us by someone outside of ourselves.  The thing is though, that Someone else isn’t a human being.  There is no person on earth that should have the power to speak into us value or worth in such a way that it secures our identity.

Jesus talks about the danger of receiving affirmation from people in such a way that it adds something to you.  People’s instinct is to assure you that it’s valid to want or even need affirmation from other people, but Jesus says otherwise.  He says that affirmation and love from another human being should not be wanted or even received in such a way that it fills deficiency in us.  He says that when affirmation from people adds to our sense of self and security, it robs us of the ability to be satisfied in Him.  And I didn’t make that up – it’s what He said.  If we want to know why we aren’t satisfied in Jesus, here’s His answer: we receive affirmation from men and we don’t seek it from God.

Jesus comes to the pharisees and basically says that they don’t want him because He doesn’t receive worship from men in such a way that it adds value to Him; that it speaks identity into Him.

And then He asks them this question:  ‘How can you believe (or be satisfied with God), when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?’

Here’s Jesus question: how can you possibly be satisfied by God when the attention of man adds to your value?  How can you possibly be satisfied by God when you don’t seek your affirmation and identity in the only God? Why are you treating men like they have the power to give you value through their feeble words when that is a power that belongs to God alone?    There is only one Person who can speak worth into you in such a way that it finally begins to fill that aching fear and insecurity.

That’s why I feel no hesitation in claiming that the pain of rejection we face in singleness is one of God’s sweetest gifts.  It provides a head start on being satisfied in God.  The key to satisfaction in Him is two-fold: not receiving your worth from the words of men, and seeking it from God.  The pain we experience in singleness occurs because the first condition has been met.  I am hurting because my singleness itself seems to have stolen from me the opportunity to get affirmation from men.  Now, the challenge is to let go of my desire to seek out and secure that affirmation, or cling and scrape up the scraps I might have gathered of human affirmation to try to make me feel less insecure or unwanted.  The challenge is to seek my affirmation from God.

And the reward is great: you will have deeper faith and deeper satisfaction in our Lord and Savior.

Gosh – that sounds so wonderful.

If you are no mortal man’s favorite, you are in good company.  Besides me, you’re also in the company of Someone who was ‘despised and rejected by men’.  He refused to receive glory from men and He sought instead the glory, the perfect peace and joy that comes from the Father.

You will waste the rejection of singleness if you allow others to speak affirmation into your life that adds to your identity, rather than seeking the affirmation that can only come from God.  God has designed this beautiful season of life to be one where you can say: ‘where else can I go?’  When you need affirmation, you have no husband to turn to, and as the stages of life of your friends shift with the seasons, more and more of your ‘options’ for affirmation will be stripped away.  And again you will say – ‘no really, now, where would I go for affirmation?’  You will find that you have no other options.  If you want affirmation you will have to trust God to provide.  Don’t be ashamed by your insecurity.  Don’t try to cover or conceal or fill it with positive thinking or encouragement from mortal men.  Let it drive you to cling to God as your only hope.  Let no one but God – not friends or yourself – convince you that you are worthy and loved.  Let His word be the only balm to the broken soul.

You will waste your pain of rejection if you don’t let the affirmation of God fuel your role in community and the Church.  The more you seek the glory that comes from the only God, the more of an asset you will be to the hurting and broken around you in the church and the city.  Instead of looking around on a Sunday and wondering why no one cares for you, you will have all the affirmation you need to look around you and seek people to love – not people who’ll love you.  You will be able to be a true friend when you are loving out of an abundance not deficiency.  Now that you are not seeking your identity to be filled by their words or affirmation, you are finally able to be free to speak truth without fear.  You are free to bear burdens without counting the cost.  You are free to celebrate with those who are celebrating and weep with those who are weeping without the distraction of coveting.

28 thoughts on “Blessings of Singleness#4: The Pain of Rejection

  1. “i am no one’s favorite.”

    ugh. way to give words to a fear/pain i’ve never pinned. a more realistic (for me) way of saying there’s no “special someone.”

    is it right, could it be biblical, to say that maybe, without God’s grace, you would be someone’s favorite? And it’s his grace and goodness that keeps that from happening because if, at least now, you were, you wouldn’t persevere? Maybe you’ve got and you are everything the world would need to be someone’s favorite.

    but He blinds them to it. for your good. (just maybe. You’re get trained, you know better than i.)

    i agree on the wisdom of letting ONLY God convince you that you are loved and loveable. then, all other love is a gift, but someone choosing not to love you doesn’t change the truth of who you are.

  2. This is my favorite (at least today) of your writing. So encouraging.

    PLEASE get this stuff copyrighted and in a book. It will bless many.

  3. Um Fabs, this series is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Seriously. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your wisdom! I would love to chat more about this stuff with you over coffee some time!

  4. Thank you. This is such an encouraging article. It’s heart wrenching because it’s so true.

    Thank you for addressing the issues of my own heart

    I really do appreciate it

  5. I agree, this is amazing and powerful stuff…truth. In this post and in many others you have hit the head on the nail with what I have been feeling, and the ways in which my thoughts tend to wander, and then put it all in perspective of who God is and what he is doing in my life. Thank you. And yes, you should definitely put this stuff in a book!

  6. I was just rejected by someone to whom I thought I’d marry in a few years – as that is what we discussed. I truly had NO ONE to turn to but God. I am still healing – healing a lot. I needed this right now, more than you could ever imagine. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Fab, I have been savouring your writing and reading one every couple of days. This series is very encouraging. Not the first time I’ve read stuff on this topic, but each time and each author allows it to hit a different way.

    The only thing I ask is that you provide reference to the actual Bible passage you’re referring to. It would be nice for us to be able to open up our Bibles and read Jesus’ actual words in addition to your paraphrase.

    Thank you.

  8. My friend shared your site with me tonight. I was looking through and saw this. You put into words what I’ve been struggling through for sometime now. I didn’t know how to explain it before, but you got it.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. Fabs, I find myself once again learning from your insight and having to add a comment, perhaps because I look at things a little differently from a male perspective.

    When Jesus criticized the Pharisees, it was because the two conditions you mentioned were met: (1) seeking affirmation from men, and (2) not seeking it from God.

    But it seems to me that these are not mutually exclusive conditions. For example, there’s what seems like everyone’s favorite chapter of Proverbs:

    28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
    29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
    30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
    31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Prov 31:28-31)

    It seems like no more fitting way to end a book of advice to sons than to give praise to the kind of woman he should be looking to marry.

    Proverbs is an excellent example of the kind of human affirmation that is compatible with seeking our worth in God. We find this human affirmation valuable because we need it (we were made to). We need others to encourage us to follow hard after Christ, and if their words of affirmation pass the test of Scripture and ring true, these encouraging brothers and sisters are the arms of Christ wrapped around us to bring comfort to our hearts.

    To take the converse, Proverbs often talks about how important it is to stay away from wayward women and unwise counsel. Godly counsel is important: iron that sharpens iron and words that cut deep. We need to hear this from people, not just from God, because God made us to need those relationships in order to know Him better.

    You strike me as un-Pharisaical because you have a desire for human affirmation, but instead of ignoring God’s comfort, you throw yourself into it and seek to filter everything in your experience though the mesh of God’s Word. You want love because we all do, but true love leads us closer to Christ and doesn’t become a substitute for Him.

    You know all of this already, of course. This is probably just me bringing a complementary perspective on the subject as a guy. Loony me!

  10. Thank you for sharing. It was exactly what I needed to listen to. Relevant Magazine posted this on twitter and it was so *relevant*

  11. Thank you so much. This web site is a blessing. I’ve found it through a friend who blogged about it. I’ve emailed it to a friend of mine, who emailed it to another friend. This post is probably my favorite out of the ones I’ve read so far. So relatable. After a recent breakup I realized that I forgot how to savor solitude. Every moment I was doing anything alone felt sad and incomplete — the long and involved relationship had conditioned me to feel that way. Now I’m gradually re-learning how to embrace the times I am alone (but never really alone, because of Him), and I’m finding my way back to bountiful joy again. I think this post just gave that process a boost. Thank you again!

  12. Wow, so true!!! I have been single for so long, but I am enjoying it -“being alone is not lonely” because of the love of God that completes me.=)

    I know many singles are blessed with this post. Please keep on writing! God bless you more!

  13. I want to thank you for this series — it has been a tremendous blessing to me. I’d like to make a request though that you add one topic — haha I’m sure others have given ideas too and I get that it’s from YOUR perspective so undrestand if you simply don’t relate and opt not to cover it. But as a Christian woman in her mid-20’s who grew up in the church (attending youth group, going to a private christian high school and then choosing to attend a christian college), I struggle with this deep and abiding sense of failure. In the secular world, I’m a success – I went to a top graduate school and have a great job in a demanding field, but that wasn’t the “goal” I was given or told to pursue. And regardless of what I know to be truth, I struggle with the feeling that I must have done something wrong — I must have not prayed enough or been holy enough (though I did/do all of the “right things”) and by opting, when I found myself graduating from college without a wedding to plan, to pursue my career I’ve failed to pursue God’s perfect plan for my life. Obviously, if I had just prayed enough or loved Jesus enough or was thin enough or sweet spirited enough or submissive enough my life would be like my friends’ lives: I’d be married to a godly man and posting pictures of future Sunday School attendees.

    1. I TOTALLY hear that. Thanks for sharing and I’ll give it some thought. I hate that lie. Praying for you and me right now: This God – His plan is PERFECT.

  14. “In my ideal world, everyone would get to be someone’s favorite. The pain of rejection in singleness comes in the unbalanced nature of relationships. I have people who are my favorites. They are my dearest and nearest friends – my top priorities outside of Jesus. The thing is, they have husbands and children. And so, I’m not their favorite. These people are my family, but I’m not their family. And that’s painful.”

    Man – the number of times satan has used this truth to make me feel rejected and hopeless. This world is designed for pairs – most everything in this life is meant to be shared and enjoyed with someone else. This is a painfulness that some don’t understand, but even in that pain, God intends it for our good.

  15. Thank you. Thank you so much for posting this. I had to stop mid-paragraph and write this comment because I felt utter gratitude to the person behind this powerful message. My first time visiting your website and I’m so thankful to have randomly stumbled upon it.

  16. I needed this, so much. I’m seeking Care and Counsel through my church and was told of your blog. I’m including it in my quiet time challenge from my counselor and I can’t stop thinking about how it describes exactly (wish I could underline this twice) where I am. And, in turn, where I won’t be. I won’t be in a barren place of loss anymore. With God’s love, guidance, and grace, I will endeavor to always be filled by him no matter what the situation.

      1. Do you only allow positive comments on your blogs? Why are so many people blessed with husbands and children? They must be hopelessly behind in their relationships with God, then, right? They must be so far back in the dust that they’ll never get to Heaven. What’s that? Oh, there’s a different set of rules for them? They get to be blessed and have Heaven too…okay, and we get to be cursed and have Heaven? Hmmmm…

  17. I read this on Desiring God and wanted to say thanks. I shared it with a friend, and although we are married to men we love, the message is universal. Fear of rejection, loneliness hits all of us and the answer is always the same. Great read. Thank you.

  18. Hi Fabienne! I just read this article from Desiring God 🙂 and I can’t help but to share it with a friend. thanks for retelling the truth 🙂 Godbless your writing and you’re God-given wittinessssssss 🙂 Love, Althea!

  19. Just discovered this blog and have been clipping to Evernote like crazy.

    I have just finished two years as a ministry trainee and been surrounded by the love of my church family. And yet:

    In my ideal world, everyone would get to be someone’s favourite. The pain of rejection in singleness comes in the unbalanced nature of relationships.  I have people who are my favourites.  They are my dearest and nearest friends – my top priorities outside of Jesus.  The thing is, they have husbands and children. And so, I’m not their favourite. These people are my family, but I’m not their family.  And that’s painful.

    This was me every day. And I’ve been really challenged by how I’ve struggled to not make an idol of marriage more and more as I’ve headed into my twenties. Thank you for the blessings of this series and articulating so well that the pain itself is not necessarily symptomatic of idolatry, and pointing me to channel it into my dependency on God and my love for my Church family. No doubt I’ll return here often when I’m tempted to waste the rejection of singleness.

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