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 2 of 2)
Mrs. Lysa TerKeurst: I 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.
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John Fuller: Describing what rejection feels like, that's Lysa TerKeurst and she's with us again today on one of our best programs of 2016. This is "Focus on the Family." I'm John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: Lysa has so much wisdom and she's so well-connected with many, many people through social media, John. She's a speaker, an author and she has that uncanny ability in her own self-disclosure to allow you to think about your own accomplishments and deficiencies, those things that you need to work on with the Lord.
And that is our hope for you today as you listen along. We want you to get in touch with those parts of your heart that maybe the Lord's been knockin' on the door saying, "Open up." And Ephesians 3:18 is that kind of encouragement to us. It says, "Grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for you." And that's coming through loud and clear from Lysa as we talk about her book, Uninvited and she reminds all of us that the love of God cannot be taken from us. And that is important for us to remember.
If you're struggling to see your value in God's eyes, we'd love to help you in your spiritual journey. That's why we're here at Focus on the Family. We want to see you not just survive, but to thrive in your relationship with God. That is the most important relationship in your life and every other relationship flows from that.
John: And to find out more about how we can help, stop by our website, www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let's go ahead and hear now this Best of 2016 "Focus on the Family" conversation with Lysa TerKeurst.
Jim: And Lysa, let me welcome you back to "Focus on the Family."
Lysa: Well, thank you so much. Yeah, I was listening to the introduction and I was thinkin', oh, I never wanted to be the poster child for rejection (Laughter), but here we go. (Laughter)
Jim: Well, I love what you said last time, 'cause your book is titled Uninvited and you want people, once they read the book, to take their marker and mark out "Un" and be "invited."
Lysa: That's right.
Jim: And I think that's a beautiful way to describe it, because you're trying to help people understand their position in Christ and it's hard for us, because we go through years of rejection in different ways as children. You talked about last time, the rejection you felt from your dad who never really noticed you, the little girl dancing in the rare dress that they had bought for you because money was tight and that feeling that, I'm beautiful, but my daddy's not noticing me.
Jim: Man, I could feel that. Even as a boy, I had the mitt that was never delivered. You know, my dad made a promise when I was 7 that on my birthday, he'd bring me a mitt and he and my mom had already divorced and I looked up and down that road every 15 minutes for my dad and he just never showed up. And what was worse, is I told my best friend that he was comin' with it—
Jim: --and he walked to the curb with me every time and I had to swallow that pride and I guess, just assume I'm not good enough, that my dad didn't even think about my birthday. That really hurt.
Lysa: Uh-hm, yeah.
Jim: And it carries itself forward. I think I'm overcorrecting it now with my my two boys, 'cause I tell 'em, if I make a promise, I'm committed to that promise and it's directly related to that incident.
Lysa: Uh-hm, but I love that you have taken that incident and instead of burying it and saying, "no, no, no, you know, I never felt that way as a kid," you know, which is sometimes the response that we have; we don't really want to deal with the rejection of our past, so we just stuff it so far down that we kind of lie to ourselves and we hear the word "rejection" and we think, oh, yeah, that applies to other people, but it doesn't really apply to me.
The reality is, rejection touches us all, because the sensitivity of rejection, it's either that fear of being abandoned or the fear of losing one's identity. And in your case, Jim, it was both. Your dad didn't show up and you wanted to be the son who was thought of, like that was part of your identity, like you wanted to be his son, who he was so proud of, he wouldn't fathom not showin' up without that mitt, right?
Lysa: And so, in that situation, it's happened to both—the fear of being abandoned, the fear of losing your identity. But here's the great thing that you've done. You have acknowledged, yes, that caused me a lot of pain. And I could see the tears in your eyes even now, you know, as you talk about that, but you have taken it and you have let it work for your good so that you are becoming the kind of father that you always wished that your dad would have been. And yeah, you—
Jim: That's so true.
Lysa: --could take it to an extreme and you know, Satan would love for you to beat yourself up like, you know, the reason you overcorrected your kids (Laughter), you know.
Jim: That's exactly right.
Lysa: And that's what the enemy wants you to believe. It's like no, you need to look at the enemy and say, "No, I'm becoming the kind of father that I wish my dad would've been," instead of wallowing in the pain of what he wasn't and becoming just like him. I'm letting it work for my good.
Jim: Well, I appreciate that. I feel it and we left off last time with that big question, why God? I mean, why do we go through these things? Why the pain? What's the purpose? And as you just said, we all, to some degree, go through it. Rich, poor, black, white, it doesn't matter. Those things do not matter. It happens to all of us, so that is the question. Why does God allow it?
Lysa: Yeah, that is a deep question that we could wrestle with for days. And I don't want to appear like, oh, I'm the expert who has all the answers, because I truly believe God doesn't want to be explained away--
Jim: Oh, that's good.
Lysa: --with your question. He wants to be invited in, you know. I really feel like one of the things that could be happening when God allows us and He doesn't cause the pain of rejection, but He allows us sometimes to go through this, is to show us that we, unlike people, sometimes with people we have to earn their love. We have to earn their respect. We have to earn their, you know, their acknowledgment of us.
But God doesn't operate that way. You know, we don't earn God's love. God's love isn't based on me. It's simply placed on me and it's the place from which I should live. And I think when we're in the pit of those feelings of rejection, that's the greatest opportunity to shame Satan back to hell and to say, "You know what? I have nothing to offer. I can't perform right now. I am feeling lower than I've ever felt before, but my God, He loves me. And it's not based on me. It's simply placed on me by God Himself."
Jim: Lysa, you talked about your story and that rejection from your father and how that led to scraps, as you described it. That's a beautiful word. It's a hard word, but that you were looking for scraps that other boys, teenage boys and you know, college boys [gave you]. In fact, that led to some devastating circumstances for you.
Jim: If I could pry into that a bit, because I can't imagine how you carried that guilt with the consequence of your decision.
Jim: Describe it.
Lysa: Well, you know, I think any time a girl longs for love that she wasn't given from the assurances and adoration of her father, many girls can turn to tryin' to find that affection from guys.
And that's exactly what I did. It was a trap that I got caught in and you know, honestly, Jim, the world can give you moments of temporary happiness, moments of temporary feelings of love. But everything the world has to offer outside of God's plan is very temporary.
And so, yeah, I did find boys that would say that they loved me and boys that would give me the affection that I missed out on my father, but I also found out that I was pregnant and I was devastated. I was alone. I was--
Jim: How old were you?
Lysa: --I was in my early 20s.
Lysa: And my mom had just suffered the trauma of losing a child. One of my sisters passed away in a very tragic way. And so, normally I would've gone to my mom and asked her to help me in that situation, but she was so overwhelmed with grief that I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to.
Lysa: And so, I went to an abortion clinic out of desperation and really what I asked them for was help. And what they gave me was a lie and they said, you know, the test is positive, but you really shouldn't consider yourself pregnant. So, we can take care of this problem quick and easy and you'll never think about it again.
Jim: Wow, think of that line.
Jim: The test is positive, but you're really not pregnant. What does that even mean?
Jim: But you went through with it.
Lysa: Yeah, they said it was cells dividing. It wasn't a real baby and so, you know, in my desperation, I bought that lie and I had an abortion and it sent me to the deepest, darkest pit that I've ever been in.
People interacting with me in everyday life wouldn't have known it, like I was still able to function. I have enough gumption in me to like get up and paint a smile on my face and do my job. You know, I'm a highly responsible person. But at night I would come home, lay on my couch and cry every single night and felt like I was sinking into a pit I wasn't sure I was ever able to get out of.
Jim: That is such an insightful description, because [for] all of us, it's kinda like walking wounded, right?
Jim: We can function, but then we're desperate inside--
Jim: --the way you described that. So many women, Lysa and men, too, have gone through that very tragedy, where they chose abortion over life.
Jim: And they can't feel that God could ever forgive them.
Jim: That guilt is so heavy. Many pastors won't even talk about it, because they know the impact that it will have on so many women in the congregation because they went through it. What do you say to that woman listening right now, who has never been able to free herself of that guilt and that shame that she took the life of her baby?
Lysa: Yeah, well, that why I think it's important for me to share my story, is because I'm able to give this gift to any person who has done something that they feel like is beyond the reach of God. It's not just an abortion, although that is a horrific thing that a woman has to wrestle with, that she's made that decision. But it's for the man who has had an affair. It's for the father who walked away from his kids 10 years ago and wakes up one day and realizes what he's lost. It's when we reach the end of ourself and my message to them is, me, too? (Emotional) I understand and you know, I think if more of us were honest and more of us would stand up and admit our own depravity, you know, our own brokenness—
Lysa: -- and dare to go first and say those words, like me, too. I understand, like I get exactly where you are.
Lysa: And I want to say, I have suffered through. I have wrestled through those deep feelings of not only being, you know, rejected from people that led me to make that decision, you know, but feeling like this might be the thing that causes God to reject me. I have wrestled with that and I can say with all certainty, that God loves me.
Lysa: He has forgiven me and if He could forgive me, He can certainly forgive you. Like I know what you're dealing with and I'm standing here saying, God's love isn't based on you. It isn't—
Lysa: --based on you. It's simply placed on you and it's a place from which we must live loved, loved; we are loved by God, period, no question mark.
Jim: You know what? Boy I appreciate the way you're sharing that and what I often say to someone who's struggling with belief in God, belief in Christ, is why wouldn't you embrace what Jesus has said and done for you? I mean, there's only that opportunity.
It's amazing that God Himself is such a gentleman in that way. He's not gonna force you to choose Him. He's gonna say, "Choose, life or death." And Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate saying, "I came to testify to the truth." And Lysa, what you're sharing is raw truth, that me, too. None of us are perfect. None of us are sinless--
Jim: --and the more the church can embrace that. I have no idea why we want to try to project perfection, 'cause at the base of that is pride.
Jim: It really is everybody and when you're more vulnerable, that's what the Lord said. He will be lifted up in your weakness, not in your strength and for us to be able to talk that way. I think the world would see an entirely different and more godly perspective in us as believers if we were more vulnerable with who we really are, not what we pretend to be. So, I appreciate that.
John: Well, we have really heard from the heart and there's more to come still in this program, but let me just slip in here and say, the book is Uninvited. Our counseling team would be happy to have an initial consultation with you and help you where you're at. Focus on the Family is here. We want to assist you in that great feeling of rejection you might have.
If what Jim has said about God's love for you, why wouldn't you choose that if you're wrestling with that, well, let us talk that through with you. Our number is 800-232-6459. You can find resources, Lysa's book and other helps at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim: Lysa, you mentioned something in the book which I think could be the takeaway phrase from the broadcast last time and this time and that's, "Lived loved." At first when you hear it, you're going, "What? What is that?" Lived loved. Explain it and then let's talk about it.
Lysa: Well, and let's make it present, like live loved today, you know. So, in other words, approach today with the assurance that God loves me. I don't have to feel it. I don't even have to think I deserve it., but it is real and so, I can take that truth. I am loved by God. There's nothing I can do to make Him love me more and His grace is so vast that there's nothing I can do to make Him love me less.
And that is so hard for our human brains to wrap around. So, instead of trying to explain it away or instead of trying to understand it, just state it; believe it.
Lysa: And every time that we hear a lie today, speak back to those lies. In counseling terms, it's called "the corrective experience." So, when you hear a lie, correct it with the truth.
Jim: That's not parenting. (Laughing)
Lysa: That's not parenting. It can be parenting, too.
Jim: It's parenting yourself, actually.
Lysa: Yeah, but it's really taking responsibility to make your brain and your heart live in a place of truth and not live in wallowing in the lies. And so, I will often do this to myself and I don't do it perfectly. Honestly, you could bring my husband in right now and he would say, "Uh! This girl still struggles with all this stuff," you know, because often my husband's so gracious. He has to do the corrective experience on me, like if I say, "You know, oh, man, sometimes I'm just such a loser." And he'll say (Laughter), "Lysa, you know—
Jim: Yeah, right.
Lysa: --you're not. That's a lie. That's a lie. You need to identify the lie and walk in the truth." That's what it means to live loved.
Jim: Ah, that's fantastic. I love that thought, as well. You talk about Abigail and I want to that story in, because Abigail is a great figure in this regard and what you're talkin' about. Fill us in on what you saw and discern there with Abigail's story.
Lysa: I wish Abigail was talked about more in Scripture, but in 1 Samuel, chapter 25, we find this fascinating story of Abigail, who is married to a very harsh man. It says in the Scriptures, so harsh that no one can even talk to him. The Hebrew pronunciation of his name is Nabal.
Jim: Now some women just said, "Oh, that's my husband."
Lysa: (Laughing) Let's hope not. (Laughter) But yeah, you know, I think a lot of us can identify with Abigail, because the reality of her life, she has some very difficult circumstances. She has busyness. It's about to be festival time, so you know, [the] girl has been makin' her Target list, her Hobby Lobby list. (Laughter) I mean, so, I can identify with that.
And she has some brokenness as a result of being married to someone who's very harsh. And if he's harsh with other people, you have to discern that he's probably harsh at home, as well. So, Abigail wakes up one day and realizes through a message that she gets from one of her servants, that her husband has completely dishonored David.
David has done Nabal a great favor by going out and protecting his flocks and now it's about to be festival time. So, David has asked Nabal for some festival food to give to the men with him. And Nabal dishonors David so much and not only rejects his request, but reminds David. There's this little line in the Scripture that says, "Who are you? Who is this son of Jesse," which of course, I would say taps right into that feeling that David had of being rejected from his father when his father didn't bring him in to be considered by Samuel—
Jim: His trigger.
Lysa: --yeah, to be considered by Samuel to be anointed the king. So, he is triggered. So, David doesn't just walk away and call Nabal a jerk and like let that be that. He has an out-of proportion response, because this is compounded rejection. And so, Abigail gets this message from one of her servants that David is gonna kill all of the men in our household. So, Abigail rises up and becomes this amazing woman who doesn't stay stuck in the reality of how hard her life is.
But she decides that she's gonna rise up and do something about it. So, she goes to talk to David. She prepares a banquet for 600 men and loads it up on donkeys, doesn't tell her husband, because she knows that it's for his greater good that she doesn't tell him.
And she goes and has this conversation with David. And this conversation that Abigail has with David, I believe, it's one of the most profound, epic speeches given by any person in the Bible and it's given by this woman Abigail.
So, I unpack it in the book to help people to see that the way Abigail speaks to David is actually serving David, not just the food, but is serving him a great gift of her honoring him and yet, helping him see that the path you're about to march is not in keeping with your destiny. You, David, are about to derail your entire destiny, because you're stepping outside of the will of God.
But the way she speaks to David is so honoring and so lovely and so courageous and so full of humility, that she changes the course of David's life. And I think David never, ever forgets the conversation he has with Abigail.
Jim: Well, and you know, you look at that. What's so instructive about that, that's also God's character.
Jim: And God formed us. God created us. He knows how the human heart, the emotions work. And when you use His character, it triggers something in the other person that is hopefully, not always, hopefully godly, as well.
Lysa: That's right.
Jim: Their hearts crack when you're showing love and respect and humility.
Jim: I love that. Man, Lysa, I could just sit here all day and talk to you, because it's so much fun and so insightful. You also mentioned 10 things you must remember when rejected. I read this and we'll post this if we can, but pick a couple of them to highlight and again, we'll post these at the Focus on the Family website.
Lysa: Yeah, well, I think I wrote this chapter specifically for parents, because I really know that if a parent has never dealt with their own rejection, it's really hard to help those kids when they go through seasons of rejection. So, I really want this to be a tool that parents can use to help their kids, but also to remember themselves.
But one of those is, don't bash, trash or hash your rejections on social media or on the Internet, because the Internet never forgets.
Jim: It's always there.
Lysa: It's always there. And don't invite the public into your private pain by bashing the person that's rejected [you]. It's not gonna make things better; it's gonna make things worse or rehashing the rejection. That's just gonna make you feel a sense of shame in an even more public way. And so, I think that's a really important thing, because teenagers especially love to talk about make-ups and breakups and—
Jim: (Chuckling) Oh, right.
Lysa: --pickups and all in between on social media. So, I think helping them have private space to deal with their pain is really important, yes.
Jim: Let me grab this one, because for me, this is big for one of my boys. But rejection doesn't label you. It enables you to adjust and move on. That is so powerful if parents and young people can get ahold of that.
Lysa: It really is, because I think one of the greatest things that we can help foster within our kids is a sense of self-awareness. We would all be much healthier adults if we had more self-awareness. And it's not self-focus, but it's just becoming aware that, yeah, you know, sometimes when we experience a rejection, it has a lot to do with the other person's selfishness sometimes.
But then there's also this little part that maybe we did some things that add to that person's desire to reject us. And so, if we can become more self-aware, then we can become more mature. And if become more mature, we become more wise. And so, let this rejection be a gift in disguise to you.
Jim: Lysa, this has been for me, I mean, very enlightening and very engaging, so thank you so much for your insights and again, I hope our conversation the last couple of days has pricked your heart in a way that says, okay, maybe I've got some room to grow. Maybe there are some things I need to learn about myself. Thank you for coming on and opening up your heart in that way. It is profound.
Lysa: Well, thank you. It's such an honor to be here with you.
John: And that concludes this Best of 2016 conversation on "Focus on the Family" with Lysa TerKeurst.
Jim: Today's program highlights one of the things we want to do here at Focus on the Family and that is simple, to help you come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and then give you the tools to grow in that relationship. You don't stop just by making that decision to commit your life to the Lord, but now it's a lifelong process of going deeper with God.
If you're wondering what to do next, call out counselors. That's a great next step. We have talented, gifted Christian counselors who can talk with you, encourage you in your walk with God and give you a couple of initial first steps to overcoming any feelings of rejection that you may be experiencing.
John: And this is a season where many of us feel that, so please, don't hesitate to call one of our caring Christian counselors. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 and due to the call volume that we receive, a lot of folks are struggling right now. The counseling team might have to give you a call back, so you might be asked to leave your name and number and they'll get back to you just as soon as possible.
Jim: Here at the end, I also want to mention a comment that we received from a listener because this is the payoff, everybody. This is where we know we've hit the tone that we needed to. But he wrote: "Your broadcast with Lysa TerKeurst was such a blessing to me. I felt the Lord speaking directly to me through her words. I really feel it was a divine appointment since I've been dealing with some issues for four years that have not been resolved until now. It helped put everything I've been dealing with in perspective and hit the nail right on the head. Thank you for the eternal ramifications of this message on myself and others."
Wow, I mean, it doesn't get any better than that. That's exactly the impact that we want to have and I'm quite confident that's exactly the impact that the Lord wants us to have on His behalf. If you have been touched by the broadcasts here at Focus on the Family, let us know. Let us know how the Lord has used the ministry to touch you and speak to your heart in various ways. Tell us your story.
And may I also ask for you to consider supporting the ministry here at Focus on the Family so we can half the impact that we are hoping for like the one we just read. Together we can make a great impact for the Lord.
John: And you can make that donation at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459. And when you get in touch, be sure to get a CD of this conversation or the entire Best of 2016 collection. It's available on CD or as a download. And be sure to get a copy of Lysa's book, Uninvited, which is gonna help you live in the fullness of God's love and His acceptance as we've heard today. Let me encourage you to give a generous gift to day and we'll make sure to send a complimentary copy of Lysa's book to you as our way of saying thank you for giving the gift of family and joining our support team.
And then finally, if you'd like some additional incentive to give today, please know that, that matching grant opportunity that some generous friends of Focus on the Family have made available is still in effect. So, give today and know that your dollars and the impact of your giving will be doubled.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow. We'll hear some touching Christmas stories, a heartwarming program, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.
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