Is it Possible to Actually Seek Rejection?

“Actors search for rejection. If they don’t get it, they reject themselves.”
~Charlie Chaplin

As someone with a theater background, I’ve often encountered rejection.

I’ve endured many auditions and have heard my fair share of no. I didn’t look the part, sound the part, I couldn’t get a handle on a certain accent or I simply was not “good enough.”

Ah, yes, “good enough.” For many of us perfectionists and/or recovering addicts, this little phrase cuts right to the core.

In one way or another, we are recovering from something in life. And yes, it’s often fueled by rejection.

Years ago, when I played the crazy housewife character, Bananas in John Guare’s, “The House of Blue Leaves,” I behaved like a dog, begging for attention.

It wasn’t my first stint at begging, however. Like many of us, my rejection issues stemmed from unmet needs involving my parents. I discuss it in my book, Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.

“I desperately wanted my dad to notice me. I learned very quickly that one surefire way to do that was by winning awards. When I won something, I wasn’t completely worthless… I was “earning my keep.” I set impossible standards for myself.

…For three years in a row, I did not missed one day of school, knowing that I would win a perfect attendance certificate, tangible proof on paper that I was worthwhile. It became a standard I had to maintain because my dad seemed pleased in my performance… So for the next few years, I went to school with colds, sore throats and influenza. I remember going to school once with a temperature of over 101, sitting at my desk, on the verge of throwing up, yet only thinking of that certificate.

When I reached junior high, I became so sick once I had to stay home… My dad, who had never really been sick with so much as a cold, was unsympathetic to my condition. With each passing day I stayed home from school, the tension mounted… After three days home, he had enough. He decided he would take me into school to make sure I got there.

On the way to school, he was fuming and I was scared to death, but my fourteen-year-old mind wanted to know something… I got up the nerve to ask him, “Do you still love me?” His answer? “If you do this again, I won’t.”

His answer proved it. It was my fault. I had to prove myself in order to be loved…

However, there was an ugly little reality I didn’t want to admit; I was getting a payoff from the rejection.

Whether it was an excuse to wallow, a free pass from accountability or just me being a true drama queen, my rejection perception was giving me something. I say perception because, let’s get real, nine times out of ten there was no actual rejection going on at all. It was simply my feelings run amock.

Furthermore, I missed one critical Truth that, as an adult, I’m now acknowledging: my dad’s behavior- or anyone else’s- was not necessarily God’s response.

He feels and acts differently when it comes to the love issue:

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3

Furthermore, He doesn’t reject.

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.” Isaiah 41:9

“…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

So, where does all this reveling in rejection come from?

Again, there could be a payoff that, perhaps, we get addicted to. Yes, we can get addicted to feelings, unhealthy drama and chaos.
Pity parties can feel wonderful. Being intense and moody can give us the illusion of being powerful. Rejecting ourselves before anyone else gets a crack at us can appear to de-victimize us.

Scripture calls us out on the rejection reality concerning each of us:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:9

Life may deal some crushing blows, rejection being one of them. However, we need to determine the true source and the meaning, exactly, of our trials.

No one gets through life unscathed. Pain is a human experience, not a selective attack.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Ecclesiastes 9:11

So, if we’re feeling rejected, could it be really, our own doing? And, if so, are we getting some payoff from the self-inflicted pain? It’s worth searching.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24

And, in the meantime, we can remember a spiritual truth; God never rejects:

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.” Isaiah 41:9

“…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

Let’s bask, therefore, in His acceptance. Period.