Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fear of Rejection at Church

"They want to save me, give me tracts, and preach about the love of Christ, but they are not willing to sit down with me for an hour to find out who I am." My friend wrote that in her powerful Note on Facebook. Wow, what an indictment.

Yes, fear of rejection hurts at both ends. The one ignored, and the one longing to be brave enough to approach another and failing to do this daunting task.

I've moved several times over the years and have had to change churches, and when I first started at one church, I went to a woman's class hardly knowing a soul. The room was over half full, some people sitting with empty chairs beside them. I could have asked if the seats were taken, but I figured they'd rather have their good friends sit beside them than a new stranger.

Maybe I didn't give them enough credit.

And I knew they were big on Outreach. Surely, they'd be big on, shall we say, Within-reach. I decided to start a new table and let some friendly Christian woman come sit by me.

Well, no one did.

A high-ranking staff member entered the room behind me, passed me, and sat at another table.

So I sat at that table alone in the U-shaped arrangement, facing everyone else and feeling less than welcome or happy.

Not like I was an acre away from everyone, and not ignored all night, either. And I did take part in the discussions.

But if it weren't for my husband enjoying that church, I would not have gone back.

I have taken several psychology and counseling courses and recently read about ACOAs, Adult Children of Alcoholics ("And other dysfunctional families.") 

Fear of rejection is huge in this group. They feel different and they feel shame.

And with so many divorces among Christians, I imagine there are a lot of dysfunctional families out there.

These offspring might find it helpful to Google ACOA Laundry List. There are traits there they may recognize. And books, like those by Janet Woititz.

Not to pigeonhole themselves, not to put themselves under some condemnation.

But to see that they are not alone and that they were trained by the situation they grew up in to act and feel certain ways.

Then they can be less hard on themselves.

And recognizing certain actions, they can begin to heal, with God's help, and try to choose not to act and feel that way.

And choose to forgive in the name of Jesus those who hurt them. And in the same way, forgive themselves for traits they hate and for resulting bad choices.

Hurting people hurt people, we've all heard that. We are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  

So, Lord, please help us to love ourselves as people created in your wonderful image and with great potential you give us. May we invite you into our hearts now to heal us, to shed Your love in us through the Holy Spirit and give us courage and good manners and graciousness to sit by a stranger or phone an absent member and say, "I was thinking about you. We missed you." How hard is that? Forgive us our sins, help us to turn away from them, and save us forever, for your glory and our joy, in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

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