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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Overcoming Rejection to Live in God’s Love (Part 2 of 2)

Overcoming Rejection to Live in God’s Love (Part 2 of 2)

Lysa TerKeurst offers encouragement and hope for those who are struggling with feelings of rejection and shame, describing how they can live out of their true identity as a child loved by God and then share that love with others. (Part 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: August 12, 2016


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 open to the healing of God, then we’re gonna create surface relationships that don’t ever get to that deep heart center place.

End of Preview

John Fuller: Lysa TerKeurst was our guest on the last Focus on the Family, describing what rejection feels like, and she has more insights and really great advice for you today on Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: Uh, John, last time we had a, what I would say is a great discussion. Lysa, uh, has so much wisdom, um, beyond her years, really. And she’s so well connected with so many people through social media. Uh, she’s a speaker, an author, and she just has a way of creating communication that opens people’s up. It opens up our souls to think about where we’re at with the Lord and that is a good gift. And that’s our hope for you today as you listen along. Um, we want you to get in touch with those parts of your heart that maybe the Lord has been knocking on the door saying, “Open up. I want to help.” Ephesians 3:18 tells us, “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 last time. And I know it will today as we talk about her book, Uninvited, and she reminds all of us that the love of God cannot be taken from us. 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 thinking, “Oh, I never wanted to be the poster child for rejection.” But here we go. (laughs)

Jim: (laughs) Well, I love what you said last time, ’cause your book is titled Uninvited and you s- you want people, once they read the book, to take the 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, uh, 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.”

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Man, I could feel that. Um, even as a boy, I had the mitt that was never delivered. You know, my dad made a promise when I was seven 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 coming with it.

Lysa: Oh.

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-

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … that my dad didn’t even think about my birthday.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That really hurt.

Lysa: Yeah.

Jim: And, uh, it carries itself forward. I think I’m over-correcting it now with my children, two, (laughs) my two boys, because I, i tell them, if I make a promise, I’m committed to that promise. And it’s directly related to that incident.

Lysa: Mm-hmm. 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, 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, 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 showing up without that mitt. Right?

Jim: Yeah.

Lysa: And, uh, so in that situation, it tapped into 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.

Jim: That’s so true.

Lysa: And yeah, you could take it to an extreme and, you know, Satan would love for you to beat yourself up like, you know, the reason you over-correct with your kids, you know.

Jim: (laughs) 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 have 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: Hmm. Well, I appreciate that. I feel it. And we left off last time with that big question, why God?

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, why do we go through these things? Why the pain? Uh, 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, and 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 with this question.

Jim: That’s good.

Lysa: He wants to be invited in. You know, he… I, I really feel like one of the things that could be happening when God allows us, now, 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, um, acknowledgement 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 loves me. And it’s not based on me, it’s simply placed on me by God, himself.”

Jim: Lysa, um, you talked about your story and that rejection from your father and how that led to scraps as you describe. That’s a beautiful word. It’s, you know, it’s a hard word, but that you were looking for scraps that other boys, teenage boys, and, you know, college boys. In fact, that led to some devastating circumstances for you.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, if I could pry into that a bit, because I, I can’t imagine how you carry that guilt with the consequence of your decisions.

Lysa: Yeah.

Jim: Describe it.

Lysa: Well, you know, I think anytime a girl longs for love that she wasn’t given from the assurances and adoration of her father, um, many girls can turn to trying to find that affection from guys. And so, yeah, I did find boys that would say that they love 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 twenties.

Jim: Yeah.

Lysa: And um, my mom had just suffered the trauma of losing, um, a child. One of my sisters passed away in a very tragic way. And so, normally, I would have gone to my mom and asked her to help me in that situation, but she was so overwhelmed with grief that I just, I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to. 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: Think of that line.

Lysa: Yeah.

Jim: The test is positive, but you’re really not pregnant. What does that even mean? I mean, that’s-

Lysa: Yeah. It just-

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, the… In my desperation, I, I bought that lie and I had an abortion and, um, it sent me to the deepest, darkest pit that I’ve ever been in. Uh, 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, ever able to get out of.

Jim: That’s such an insightful description, because all of us, it’s kind of like walking wounded, right?

Lysa: Yes.

Jim: We can function, but then we’re desperate inside-

Lysa: Yeah.

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. And they can’t feel that God could ever forgive them.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That guilt is so heavy.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: 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’s 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’s, that is a horrific thing that a woman has to wrestle with if she’s made that decision, but it’s for the man who, 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, it’s for the businessman who’s cheated for years and is now coming face-to-face with his own depravity. You know, it’s when we reached the end of ourselves. And my message to them is me, too. I understand. And, you know, I think if more of us were honest-

Jim: Amen.

Lysa: … and more of us would stand up and admit our own depravity, you know, our own brokenness-

Jim: Yeah.

Lysa: … and dare to go first and say those words like, “Me too. I understand.” Like, “I get exactly where you are. And, and I want to say, I have suffered through, I’ve wrestled through.” Those deep feelings of not only being, you know, rejected from, 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.

Jim: Yeah.

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.

Jim: Yeah.

Lysa: It isn’t based on you. It’s simply placed on you. And it’s the place from which we must live loved. Loved, we are loved by God. Period. No question marks.

Jim: You know what I often, uh… 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 um, why wouldn’t you embrace what Jesus has said and done for you? I mean there’s, there’s only that opportunity. It’s amazing that God himself is such a gentleman in that way. He’s not going to force you to choose him. He’s gonna say, “Choose. Life or death?” And Jesus in front of Ponchas Pilates 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.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And the more the church can embrace that, I have no idea why we want to try to project perfection. Because at the base of that is pride.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

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: We have really heard from the heart and there’s more to come in this program. Uh, let me just say that Lysa’s book is called Uninvited. And, uh, we have that here at Focus on the Family. And also, our counseling team, um, would count it an honor to offer an initial consultation to you, to help you, right where you’re at. And, uh, we’re here to help no matter what rejection you might be feeling today. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or you’ll find the book by Lysa TerKeurst and other resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Lysa, you mentioned something in the book which I think could be the takeaway phrase, uh, 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, uh, 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. Um, 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 forgiveness 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.

Jim: Yeah.

Lysa: And every time that we hear a lie today, speak back to those lies. And 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. (laughs)

Lysa: That’s not parenting. It can be parenting, too.

Jim: It’s parenting yourself, actually.

Lysa: Yeah. But it’s, 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, um, 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, “Oh, this girl still struggles with all this stuff.” You know, because often my husbands so gracious. He, he has to do the corrective experience on me. Like if I say, you know, “Oh man, I, you know, sometimes I’m just such a loser.” And he’ll say, “Lysa, you know, 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: Well, I can remember, uh, when I was working in business, and I remember had a rough day. I was a young man, probably 27, 28. And I just remember coming home feeling low. And I remember just starting to praise the Lord even though it was, you know, a really bad day for lots of different reasons. But sometimes that’s a good thing to do, right? Just start praising the Lord for who he is-

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and, uh, not the circumstances that you’re in. And you’ll be amazed at how it totally turns your attitude around.

Lysa: It really does. And also, I would say set the tone for your day to live loved first thing in the morning by, uh, making the genesis thought of your day, I live loved. God loves me. That needs to be the genesis thought of every single day so that becomes the filter through which you process life. And, uh, it’s interesting neuroscience has come out with some research that says when we sleep at night, baby neurons are formed. And we’ll wake up in the morning how we use those baby neurons, first thing will determine so much about the patterns of thought that we carry throughout our day. And the process from a scientific standpoint, the scientific name is called neurogenesis.

Jim: Huh.

Lysa: So, I find that completely fascinating and yet not surprising at all. God wants our genesis thoughts to be, every day, I am loved by God. That is the filter through which I’m going to process life. And if we do that, it will change the way we think that entire day.

Jim: That’s fantastic. I love that thought as well. Uh, you talk about Abigail, and I want to work that story in because Abigail is a great figure in this regard, uh, and what you’re talking about. Fill us in on what you saw and discern there with Abigail story.

Lysa: I wish Abigail was talked about more in scripture, but in, uh, first Samuel chapter 25, we, this fascinating story of Abigail, uh, who is married to a very harsh man. It says in the scriptures so harsh that no one can even talk to him. His name… The Hebrew pronunciation of his name is Nabal.

Jim: And some women just said, “Oh, that’s my husband.” (laughs)

Lysa: (laughs) Let’s hope not. (laughs) But, but yeah, you know, she’s in. Uh, I think a lot of us can identify with Abigail. Because the reality of her life, she has some very difficult circumstances, she has, um, busy-ness. It’s about to be festival time, so you know, girl has been making her Target list or Hobby-Lobby list.

Jim: (laughs)

Lysa: 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 had 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 he… There’s this little line of the scripture that says, who are you? Who is the 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, th- that be that. He has an out of proportion response because this is compounded rejection. And yes, Nabal has said no to the food, but even more than that, he has made David feel less than. And so, Abigail gets this message from one of her servants that David is going to kill all of the men in her household. So, Abigail rises up and becomes this amazing woman who doesn’t stay stuck in the reality of, of how hard her life is, but she decides that she’s going to 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, uh, she goes and has this conversation with David. And this conversation that Abigail has with David, I believe is 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 see that the way Abigail speaks to David is actually serving David, not just this 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.

John: You know it strikes me as you’re speaking, Lysa that, that was a very risky thing for her to do.

Lysa: Extremely.

John: I mean, she had a lot to lose if it went poorly and she herself, would’ve been dealing with a great sense of rejection and failure if David had pushed her aside and said, “No, I’m still committed to this.” So…

Lysa: Or worse yet, I mean, David and at that point, he had 400 men with him. He had left some of the men back to protect the supplies. But they all had drawn swords in their hand. So yes, she could’ve felt rejected and … and that would’ve been hard. But she could’ve lost her life, because she gets off her donkey. So, she quickly gets off her donkey and bows her face down to the ground. That’s the most dangerous position to be in physical speaking. But biblically speaking, Abigail in that moment is in the strongest position possible, because she is coming with great humility and it’s humility in our conversations, it’s humility that opens up the opportunity for the other person to actually listen. And I think it’s Abigail’s humility that saved her life.

Jim: And, you know, you look at that, what’s so instructive about that, that’s also God’s character.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And God formed us. God created us. He knows how the human hurt, 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-

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … when you’re showing love and respect and humility.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I love that. Um, 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 on the website, but pick a couple of them, um, 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 their 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 rejection 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. That’s not going to make things better. It’s going to make things worse. Or re-hashing the rejection. That’s just gonna make you feel a sense of shame in an even more public way. Um, and so I think that’s a really important thing, because, uh, teenagers, especially, love to talk about makeups, and breakups, and hiccups, and all in between on social media. So, I think helping them have private space to deal with their pain is really important. Um-

Jim: Let me grab this one because-

Lysa: Yes.

Jim: … for me, this is big for one of my boys. But rejection doesn’t label you, it enables you to adjust and move on.

Lysa: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That is so powerful I- 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. Uh, 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 that 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 to 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 we become more mature, we become more wise. And so let this rejection be a gift in disguise to you.

Jim: Hmm. Well, Lysa, uh, this has been, for me, I mean, very enlightening and very engaging. So, thank you so much for your insights. And again, um, I hope our conversation the last couple of days has, uh, pricked your heart in a way that says, okay, maybe I’ve got some room to grow and maybe there are some things I need to learn about myself. Um, that is purposeful. Uh, that is one of the things we want to do here at Focus on the Family, is to help you grow in your relationship with Christ. If that has happened and you’re wondering, now what do I do as I’m bleeding all over the floor? Call our counselors. We are here. We have, uh, talented, uh, gifted Christian counselors who can talk with you, who can help you with perspective. We have a whole host of resources, including Lysa’s book, that will give you additional perspective. And I hope you’ll take advantage of that. Um, let me also say, you know, in the last 12 months we’ve had about 50,000 calls go through the counseling department. And that’s about 20, 22 people that are just going at it all day long. And I so appreciate their, uh, efforts in that regard. But we need your support to be able to make that happen. You know, this place just sits as an empty building if we don’t have the fuel for the engine. So let me encourage you to make a gift today. I think it’s $30 that, uh, allows us to help somebody, um, very tangibly. You want to help a marriage? You want to help strengthen a marriage? Keep a marriage together? $30 is what it takes to do that here at Focus on the Family. I think it’s one of the best investments in ministry. Um, in fact, let me, uh, read you a listener comment that we received not long ago. She said, “I listened to the Focus on the Family broadcast following an abrupt into a five-year relationship, an incident that left me feeling weak and depressed.” Really what you’re talking about, Lysa. “During those dark days, I tuned into Focus on the Family on a regular basis and eventually called to speak with a counselor to receive help. And that conversation helped me immensely. I’ve been living the Christian life ever since.” I mean, it doesn’t get better than that. And Lysa, let me say as the host of the program, thank you. And all the other guests, 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: Well, we’re so glad had to have had, uh, Lysa on the broadcast. And if you’d like to follow up and request a free phone consultation with one of our caring Christian counselors. Or learn more about Lysa’s book, Uninvited, or donate to the ministry. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. You’ll also find, uh, these and other great resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And if you can make a donation of any amount to support the work of Focus on the Family today, um, our thank you gift to you will be to send a copy of Lysa’s book, which, as you know, chronicles her journey of identifying herself as a child of God and finding acceptance in his unfailing love. Once more, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we, once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Cover image of the book "Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely"

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely

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