Author Lysa TerKeurst offers encouragement and hope for those struggling with deep-seated rejection in a discussion based on her new book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely. (Part 1 of 2)
Mrs. Lysa TerKeurst: With Jesus, we are always fully loved, fully accepted, completely held and always invited in.
End of Teaser
John Fuller: That's Lysa TerKeurst, reflecting on the acceptance that you can find in God and she's out guest on today's "Focus on the Family." Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and thanks for joining us as we return to one of our most popular programs of the year,
Jim Daly: Well, this program issuch an encouraging reminder of God's consistent, ever-present and persistent love for us and that's what we want you to hear today, that God loves you; He cares about you. Sometimes we lose that perspective because of our circumstances and as joyous as the Christmas season can be for some, for others it's hard. Maybe you have a broken or strained relationship with a family member and you feel that rejection by them. I can be a whole number of things that you're feeling at this time of the year.
If you're struggling this holiday season, we have counselors who are here to help you sort through where you need to go with the issue that you're facing and hopefully give you some advice, some biblical advice on how to carry that conversation forward.
John: And you can find information about our counseling services and get a referral for someone that you can talk with on an ongoing basis in your local area. Just stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. And now let's go ahead and hear that conversation, this Best of 2016 "Focus on the Family" with Lysa TerKeurst.
Jim: Lysa,let's not hold back. You are an infamous blogger.
John: (Laughing) Infamous.
Jim: How about that "infamous?" I mean, you have like 2 million, 3 million, 18 million? How many million women are following you today?
Lysa: A few.
Jim: (Laughing) No, I mean, it's a lot.
Lysa: It is.
Jim: Why do you think there's that attraction to your words and your expression of your faith? What is drawing particularly women to you?
Lysa: Great question. You know, I think a big part of it is, I'm very vulnerable with the brokenness of life, just the reality is, we're all broken people and people can identify with someone's brokenness. So, when I write from that perspective, everybody can identify with hurts and failures and shortcomings, inadequacies. Everybody can identify [with] that.
Not everybody can identify from your point of strength, you know. So, I don't write from my point of strength. I write from my point of failure, weakness, hurts, heartbreaks, and certainly with this book, writing from my own struggle with rejection. So, if you want to know what I struggle with, you can look at the titles of my books.
Jim: (Chuckling) Yeah, well, this one is Uninvited--
Jim: --which is not a warm title. What were you expressing there? What are you tryin' to get across in Uninvited?
Lysa: Well, I think in today's social media driven world where so many of our relationships have some kind of presence on social media, I think a lot of us are walking around, having looked at social media first thing in the morning and getting this feeling of being a little bit left out, a little bit lonely, a little bit "less than." And so, it can sort of develop within us this feeling of extreme inadequacy, not something we talk about publicly, but something we certainly deal with privately. So, the point of titling the book, Uninvited is that's really the essence of what rejection is.
Jim: It's what it feels like.
Lysa: It's what it feels like, but here's the hope of the book, is that when someone finishes reading Uninvited, I'm gonna encourage them to get a black Sharpie marker and cross out the U-N on the book title. So then they will understand thatwith Jesus, we are always fully loved, fully accepted, completely held and always invited in.
Jim: That's a great point. Let me ask you this. Social media seems to be your forte. You're a speaker, an author, but social media, you['re] communicating every day with literally millions of people and that's outstanding. I read something about the loneliness index. It came out a couple of months ago, but it said basically, the loneliness index has gone up 20 percent over the last couple of years. So, even though we're more connected digitally, we have communication occurring, it seems people are more lonely than they used to be. How come that's happening?
Lysa: Well, I think there [are] several reasons for that. But one thing is the ability to filter the hardship of life out of our social media. You know, think about it this way.
Jim: So, it's only the best stuff you see.
Lysa: It's only the best stuff (Laughter) from everybody else's life that you see. And so, when you start feeling like everybody else is "more than" and you are "less than," you start to pull away from deep heartfelt connections with other people. That creates loneliness.
You know, you don't have to be alone to be lonely. My loneliest times sometimes are when I am in a room full of people and everyone is talking, but there's some sense deep inside of me that I don't belong or that I'm not part of whatever club they're part of or I don't have the same inside jokes of everyone else. And the worst feeling to me is when you're alone in a crowded room.
Jim: Well, you in fact, there was a story in the book that I found funny really. It's where you went to a dinner, a banquet.
Lysa: Yeah (Laughing)
Jim: And you ended up at a table by yourself. (Chuckling) That had to feel really weird.
Lysa: Yeah it's awkward. (Laughter)
Jim: Why were you by yourself at a big table?
Lysa: That is such a great question. (Laughter) So, what happened is, I walked into the dinner and I was so excited because—
Jim: So, it's a banquet.
Lysa: --it's a banquet full of leaders. So, I fully expected to go, "These are my people." Like I'm gonna be able to sit [and] we're gonna swap stories. We're gonna talk heart to heart. We're gonna share our challenges, our successes, our failures. Like this is gonna be awesome. I crave time with people who are living the same kind of life as I am.
So, I was really excited about this banquet. I walked in and I walked to a table where a bunch of people I knew were sitting and there were name plates. So, I walked around that table and my name card wasn't there. I walked around another table, another table. And finally in the back of the room, I finally found my name. Now that's awkward in and of itself, when you're walking around. You can't find—
John: And you spent a lot of time lookin'.
Lysa:--yes, where you're supposed to sit. So, I sit down and I didn't recognize the other people who were assigned to my table. And I don't know what happened to them. It's just, they didn't show up. And so, the banquet starts and there I sit at a table meant for 10 people and I'm the only person. And so, I had a choice to make when I was sitting there. And of course, I felt awkward. You can just imagine like how you would feel, you know. Of course, I had a basket of 10 rolls, so I'm like, "Hi, self."
Jim: (Laughing) That was the healthy side of that whole thing.
Lysa: That was the happy side. That was (Laughter) the happy side. It was like, I don't have to share the rolls with anybody. Oh, and desserts were already laid out, too.
Jim: Oh, perfect.
Lysa: So, I really challenged myself. I said, "Okay, Lysa, you can sit here and try to fill this emptiness with all the extra rolls and desserts (Laughter) and having a little pity party for yourself. Or you can decide to see this as a time where the Lord Himself wants to be right here beside you. And if you were distracted in conversation with nine other people sitting at your table, you wouldn't be so desperate to have a conversation with the Lord. So, it's your choice. You know, you can look at this as being set aside or you can choose to see is as God's opportunity to set you apart.
Lysa: And so, it really wasn't about me surviving the banquet. It was about me developing a mind-set. Lysa, there are always gonna be moments like this in your life, you know. And you have to make the choice to understand that God has your best interest in mind.
Jim: Yeah, let me ask you this, because sometimes, and I don't mean to step on anybody's toes, but sometimes we can be overly sensitive. I mean, that could actually break somebody emotionally.
Jim: They overplay it. In other words, nobody wants to come sit with me. Nobody wants to talk to me. You might be a mom at a park on a play day and you're at the bench and there [are] other moms there, but nobody's approaching you.
How does a person rise above that kind of negative self-talk and get into a better place, where you know, just relax. It's not about you. (Laughing) What does it sound like?
Lysa: Well, first of all I want to normalize this negative self-talk. We all do it. Well, for me, I don't know what it sounds like in your head (Laughter), but in my head, it sounds like, "Of course you're alone. You're always alone. Of course, no one wants to talk to you because, you know, you talk too much at the table. Or this is just the theme of your life, Lysa. You know, your dad didn't want you. That boyfriend in college didn't want you. So, why would it be any different today?"
Jim: Wow, that's big stuff.
Lysa: You know. It is big stuff, but—
Jim: That's not small.
Lysa: --I want to say, maybe your dialogue is different, but everyone has that. And so, first of all, I want to say, if you have that negative self-talk, don't beat yourself up for having it. It's normal. But here's how you overcome it, is making the decision that it's not your circumstances that determine whether or not you're worthy.
Lysa: It is the truth of who God says you are and God says, you are valuable. You are wanted. You know, before we were even here, just the very thought of us made God explode with extreme joy and say, "Yes!" The thought of Jim Daly, that's a very good thought. (Laughter)
Jim: That doesn't feel comfortable.
Lysa: And so, He—
Lysa: --so, He—
Jim: Isn't that odd?
Lysa: --allowed you to be here—
Lysa: --out of the millions of combinations of all the cells that had to come together to create you, God made sure that He formed you; the very thought of you made His heart explode with joy. And so, you know, not to over spiritualize it, but I have to say to myself, instead of looking at this moment as something to feed that negative self-talk, I've gotta look at this moment as my opportunity to bring the fullness of God into the space that I'm walking in.
So, that night I had a choice. I could sit there and say, "Woe is me; no one wants me." Or I could say, "You know what? There are about 99 percent of other people here, whether they're seated alone or seated at a table with other people, who also have these same struggles. So, I'm gonna walk into this room and I'm gonna bring the love of God with me."
I'm gonna bring the acceptance. I'm gonna look around the room. I'm gonna find somebody who I discern needs an encouraging word. I'm gonna get my butt up off my chair and I'm gonna walk over to that person, even if they're at a table with 10 people. I'm gonna walk up to them and go, "You know what? I was just sitting here and I was looking around the room, had some extra time to really focus on other people and I noticed you. And I just want to say, I don't know what you're going through right now, but God made sure to send a message from me to you to say, He loves you. He's crazy about you.
Jim: Yeah, you know, that's so good, because when I've done that, it makes me feel better, too—
Lysa: It does.
Jim: --just noticing others. It is the love of God in our heart. Another funny story you had, which I totally related to was (Laughing) when you left your briefcase or a suitcase outside a car.
Jim: And you started just beating yourself up. I think I had that exact same conversation to myself, but describe it.
Lysa: So, I had been speaking at a conference and it was one where when the car pulled up to take me to the airport, there was lots of chaos.
Lysa: And so, I wasn't paying attention to the details and I have to really focus on the details or else, I'm not kidding, like I could leave my head behind. Thank goodness it's attached to my body, right? (Laughter) So, I'm not real good, so I really have to pay attention.
Well, I was either on my cell phone or I was in a conversation with someone. I'm not sure why I was distracted, but I hopped in the car and I assumed that the driver had put my luggage in the back of my car.
And I shouldn't have made that assumption. I should've checked, but I didn't. So, we get all the way, 30 minutes away from the venue where I was at. We pull up. I hop out. I ask him to pop the back trunk and he says, "Why?" And I said, "Oh, I gotta get my luggage out." And he was like, "There's no luggage (Laughing) in the back."
Jim: And you're like, "What?" (Laughing)
Lysa: So, there I [am], at the airport and I have no luggage. And so, I quickly call someone on my cell phone that was still at the venue. Can you please send someone over here to get my luggage? But I recognized that my timing was very short. So, there was a great chance I was gonna miss my flight if they didn't really go fast and get my luggage there quickly. So, I'm standing on the sidewalk outside of the airport and I'm speaking to myself and I'm just saying—
Jim: Out loud.
Lysa: --out loud, I'm like, "Oh, Lysa, you're such an idiot. You know, why don't you pay attention? I mean (Laughter), you're always doing stuff like this." So, I'm saying all of this and all of a sudden, one of the guys who's working at the outside check-in counter for an airline, he walks up to me and he puts his hand up and he says, "Absolutely not!" And it shocked me so much.
Jim: A stranger.
Lysa: [He was] a stranger, [and] he said, "Absolutely not." I said, "Excuse me." He said, "Absolutely not, I will not allow you to talk about yourself in that way, not in my presence."
Jim: Wow. It was like a God figure.
Lysa: "Not in my presence." And I thought, "Are you an angel?" And then he said a cuss word and I thought—
Jim: (Laughing) No.
Lysa: --okay, he's probably not an angel or it would be my luck, I'd have a cussing angel. (Laughing)
Jim: But he had a good heart.
Jim: And he was trying to say to you, "Stop it."
Lysa: But he had such a good heart and you know, it really wasn't the luggage guy at the airport that was saying those words to me.
Lysa: It was really I feel like a message from God Himself saying, "Lysa, not in My presence will you talk about yourself this way." You see, every day we have a choice. We can bring the fullness of ourself, which is insecurity and we can let our insecurities be the first thing that walks into any situation or we can bring the fullness of God, who brings with Him all security. Like if we walk into a room bringing the fullness of God, we're freed up to see and love other people.
John: Lysa TerKeurst is our guest on "Focus on the Family," some great insights and her book is called Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely. And we've got that available at www.focusonthefamily.com/radioor when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And in fact, we'll send that to you when you make a generous gift of any amount to this ministry.
And Lysa, I'm identifying with you, because just a couple of weeks ago, I got all the way through security. I got to my gate and I realized I left my laptop on a conference room table at a hotel.
John: And it so easy to beat myself up for that. Where in Scripture are you seeing that God doesn't join me in beating me up for that kind of stupidity or forgetfulness? I mean, there's encouragement in Scripture.
Jim: Well, how about for your 13-year-old? (Laughter)
Lysa: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, I think the entirety of God's message to us in Scripture, one of my favorite places to turn though is Psalms, where you know, we are reassured over and over and over. Many of the Psalms were written by David, who happens to be very featured in my book, Uninvited, because if you look at one of the first stories we ever hear about David, it's when his father, Jesse was asked by the Prophet Samuel to invite all of his sons to come and stand before him and from his sons, from his group of family, that Samuel would anoint the next king. And Jesse invited in all of his sons except David.
And so, David knew what it was like to feel rejected by his dad and that's really painful. So, when David penned so many of the Psalms, he's so brutally honest in how he feels about his circumstance, but he calls things to mind. And one of the biggest things that he calls to mind is not the rejections of his past, but the love of God, who is very, very present.
So, for me, a lot of times when I'm feeling those desperate feelings of being rejected or being left out or feeling lonely, I open up the Psalms, especially the ones penned by David and I let the reality of his honesty seep deep into my heart and watch how he turns from feeling rejected to feeling completely loved and accepted by God.
Jim: Lisa, let me ask you this, that self-rejection occurs and you've described that adequately in the way we beat ourselves up with negative self-talk. There's also the rejection from another person that's real--
Jim: --you know, the friend that used to be a friend, but for some reason they don't return the calls anymore, whatever it might be. How do you counsel a person to manage that when it's real? It's formidable and there's something that you've done that has pushed somebody away and you don't even know what it is maybe.
Lysa: Right, well, I wrote in the book, "Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst that's been said to me." So, what often happens is, when someone has given you a line of rejection, so they have said to you, "Jim, you're not cool enough to be my friend." Or a girl in high school maybe said to you one time the famous line, "Like Jim, I think you're amazing. You're just not amazing for me."
Jim: (Laughing) How'd you know that happened?
Lysa: Right? (Laughing) 'Cause (Laughter) it's happened to so many of us, right?
Lysa: Or whatever, you know. I mean, I once had a guy in high school who I was just crazy about say, "Lysa, you're a great friend, but I can't ever imagine you really being my girlfriend."
Jim: And you liked the guy.
Lysa: Yeah and I liked him.
Jim: Yeah, hm.
Lysa: And so, at the core of all of that is basically someone else saying, "You're not good enough for me." Okay, so that is a line, L-I-N-E. That's a statement that they made, a line that they spoke into your life.
Well, what happens is, that line then eventually in your life, if it sinks in and often those lines of rejection go straight to the core of who we are. It's more than an emotion we feel in the moment. It becomes something that goes from a line or a statement that they said, to a lie we start to believe about ourselves. Then that lie that we believe about ourselves becomes a liability in every other relationship that we're in, including our relationship with God.
Jim: Right and you're talking from experience, because you touched on it a moment ago, but you mentioned your, you know, tough relationship with your father.
Jim: Describe that and how that set you on a certain path.
Lysa: Well, my dad had his own issues of brokenness and you know, I can look back now and see that, but as a child, I didn't understand his lack of love for me, I didn't understand as a child [that] it had a lot more to do with him, a lot less to do with me.
Jim: Describe the environment so we can catch it, 'cause—
Jim: --a lot of people will share that environment with you.
Lysa: Right, so one of my earliest memories of my dad is being about 8-years-old and my mom had gotten me a new dress for Easter. I put it on and it was rare for us to have money to buy a store-bought dress. That was really special to me. So, I put this dress on and I felt so pretty. And I thought, I think that tonight is the night that my daddy will actually notice me.
Jim: You remember that.
Lysa: So, I walked out. Oh, I remember it vividly.
Lysa: I walked out into the den. My dad was sitting in a recliner chair. He had a beer in one hand. He had a TV remote in his other hand. He was watching something on the TV. And I went and stood beside his chair. And my heart was just beating so fast, like daddy, please notice me. Daddy, tell me I'm beautiful. Daddy, tell me that you love me and he never looked my way.
So, I did what any little girl would do to try to get attention in that moment. I started to twirl around and around and around. And as my dress was flowing out, my heart was just crying out, "Daddy, please look at me."
Lysa: And he never looked at me and he never said anything that night. It didn't matter how many times I twirled around. You see, he was present physically, but he was absent emotionally.
Lysa: And to a little girl when a man is physically present, but emotionally absent, it creates a deep hollow feeling inside of her heart--
Lysa: --that creates almost this desperate feeling of, I've gotta find someone to tell me that I'm beautiful, that I'm noticed and that I'm loved. And so, for me, it set me on this path where I was so desperate to hear those words from a man, since I never heard them from my dad, that it kind of put me in this place of grabbing for scraps of love from other people.
Lysa: And if we don't grasp the love of God in that hollow feeling, then we will always grab at scraps of love from other people.
Jim: Well, and they're never satisfying.
Lysa: And that's what I did and [they're] never satisfying.
Jim: Lysa, can I press you a little bit in an area that some people might be thinking and it may be temperament. I'm not even sure, but can we really blame it just on our environment and our circumstances? Can you be a little tougher? I don't want to sound mean-spirited, but some people who may not have that sensitivity, don't even understand it.
And I think for a large part, males are less oriented to really grabbing the impact of what happens in childhood, those things that you don't get emotionally, spiritually, the love that you don't feel. We don't have as much capacity, I think and I'm being very generic, to understand it. I think women feel it far deeper and get it far better than men. And that may be why it has such a long impact on a little girl who becomes a woman, who's looking for those scraps, as you described it.
Lysa: Yeah and I would say that the gift to a woman who feels the pain a little bit deeper is, when we feel the pain, we are much more motivated to heal the pain. You see, I think guys feel the pain, too. It's just that we're—
Jim: Can you mask it?
Lysa: --yeah, I think that guys can fill it up temporarily with success, with performance, with surface relationships, but there will come a time in your life for every man where if you ever hear from your wife, "I really wish you would be more tender with me," and I think a lot of guys hear this from their wives, what they're really what the wife is really saying is, "I wish you would open up the deep places of your heart to me. I wish you would bring your brokenness and vulnerability.
Like if your wife ever says that to you, Jim, and what she's really saying is, "Jim, you've got a broken place deep down in your heart and I wish you would come to me and say, "I'm afraid." I wish you would come to me and say, "I'm heartbroken over something." I wish you would come to me and bring those vulnerable parts to your heart, becauseI believe that every person, male or female, experiences rejection as a little person and wrestles with it the rest of their life. And if we don't allow those deep recesses of our heart to be opened to the healing of God, then we're gonna create surface relationships that don't ever get to that deep heart-center place. And every woman longs for her husband to get this.
Jim: Yeah. Lysa, that is such profound and deep stuff you're talkin' about and we are at the end of the program. And we're gonna continue the conversation, but I' m gonna give you overnight to think about this question starting tomorrow and we're gonna start right here and that is, given all the pain, given the rejection, why does God allow us to go through this? What is the purpose? So, you think about it and we'll start the program with your answer next time. Can we do it?
Lysa: Sounds good, yes.
John: And we trust you'll be back next time to hear Lysa's answer to that question on "Focus on the Family."
Jim: Lysa has shared so openly about her own past and her own vulnerabilities and maybe that's triggered something in your life and you need someone to talk to. If that's the case, don't sit in isolation. We have caring Christian counselors who are here to give you an initial consultation and then they can refer you to someone in your area, a strong believer who is in that counseling vocation.
John: Yeah, it's a great team and the number to call is 800-A-FAMILY: 800-232-6459 and due to the high call volume, you might need to leave a message and your contact information, but they will get back to you just as soon as possible.
Jim: And let me thank so many of you who have supported the ministry through this year and in years past. In fact, you enable us to do what I'm about to read. We had a response. We had many responses, but we had a specific response from this program last time and the person said this: "God is so good. This broadcast with Lysa came on the very day I was dealing with rejection in my family. I asked God to speak into my pain and show me how He wanted me to respond. And that very night this came on the radio, a divine appointment. I'm so grateful. Thank you Focus on the Family and Lysa TerKeurst for being the hands and feet of Jesus."
You can participate in being a partner in helping people like this, especially here at the end of the year. We need to hear from you. We need to have somebody on the other end of that phone call who can help guide them in a more biblical and Christ-like way. So again, let me say thank you for supporting this ministry and being there for so many.
John: And we'd invite you to give generously online at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio and when you get in touch, be sure to get a CD of the conversation or our entire Best of 2016 collection, as well as a copy of Lysa's book, Uninvited. And if you'd like, our phone number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459. And when you generously donate today, we'll make sure to send a complimentary copy of Lysa's book to you as our way of saying thank you for standing in the gap and being a part of our support team.
And then finally, now is a great time to hear from you, because some friends of this ministry have made a matching grant opportunity available. It's a limited time opportunity for you to effectively double your gift to this ministry, so please call or go online today.
On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, I'm John Fuller, thanking you for listening and inviting you back tomorrow, as we hear more from Lysa TerKeurst and continue our Best of 2016 "Focus on the Family" broadcasts.
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