Joy and Peace, Hijacked
This March 5, 2008 journal entry was a prayer for the success of the Genesis class, a marriage peer-counseling class and for Brad and Rebecca Randall, the couple facilitating the class. I also wrote notes on the book I ordered, Search for Significance, which arrived in the mail the same day.
After spending over a decade in the church, learning about forgiveness, eternal life, no longer fearing punishment or death, being a part of the Kingdom of God, being a new creation, Christ living in me, being declared righteous by God, being accepted by God, and other basic Christian concepts, I still felt like I had a very shallow understanding of it all. I wrote to God,
Help me to really wrap my brain around the amazing grace You have shown me. I just don’t even have any idea how significant all of this is. Show me. Give me the knowledge to understand it as fully as I humanly can, without my head exploding.
The book had something called a Fear of Rejection Test, in which the reader assigns a number value to each statement and then reads the analysis the book offers based on the total. I normally don’t put too much weight into psychological tests, but this one hit home hard. I knew it was true, and it came as a shock to me as I had always considered myself a somewhat self-confident person with a healthy sense of my own worth as a human being.
- I avoid certain people. – 4, sometimes
- When I sense that someone might reject me, I become nervous and anxious. – 3, often
- I am uncomfortable around those who are different from me. – 4, sometimes
- It bothers me when someone is unfriendly to me. – 2, very often
- I am basically shy and unsocial. – 5, seldom
- I am critical of others. – 2, very often
- I find myself trying to impress others. – 3, often
- I become depressed when someone criticizes me. – 3, often
- I always try to determine what people think of me. – 2, very often
- I don’t understand people and what motivates them. – 5, seldom
Analysis: The fear of rejection forms a general backdrop to your life. There are probably few days where you are not affected in some way by this fear. Unfortunately, it robs you of the joy and peace your salvation is meant to bring.
Trading God’s view of who you are for other’s view of who you are is a common mistake that comes with a truck load of wicked-sneaky side effects. Quiet, unsettling thoughts like, “You’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not talented enough, you’re not dedicated enough…” and a slew of other “you’re not _____ (fill in the blank) enoughs,” can easily fester and multiply. Some people would say this is the voice of the Accuser in Revelation 12:10. Others don’t make that connection but say that people tear themselves down with negative, self-destructive thoughts. Either way the result is the same. Over time, people who become accustomed to this pattern of thinking will inevitably find themselves living in fear of rejection.
The obvious question, then, is how does one go about getting rid of this fear? The obvious answer (for theists, anyhow) is to place a higher value on what God thinks of him than on what others do. But this is much easier said than done, because one must first have an accurate idea of his worth in the eyes of God before he can escape fear of rejection. After all, if one believes God’s value system is based on behavior (a.k.a., law and works), he would have to be perfect in order to have any value at all in the eyes of God.
Many believers think they’ve moved past such an erroneous view of God and themselves when they no longer subscribe to a system of law and works, instead relying on a system of grace through the faith of Jesus Christ. They say, “I’m forgiven. I have eternal life and no longer fearing punishment or death. I am a part of the Kingdom of God, a new creation. Christ lives in me, and I am declared righteous by God. I am accepted by God.” Perhaps when they say it, they really mean it. But those same believers display symptoms of having a fear of rejection. I’m not just making this up. I’ve been there and done that.
A persistent fear of rejection should be interrupted and broken as one discovers how incredibly special he is to God. Here’s why it so often doesn’t: No one can truly understand his worth in the eyes of God until he understands EVERYONE’s worth in the eyes of God. Torment and annihilation doctrines throw a monkey wrench into this process — by purporting the majority of humanity is worth much less to God than a stray dog.