illustration by Kait Bouman
When asked what is my greatest fear, I often hesitate to answer truthfully. Heights is usually my go-to answer, for I would never admit rejection is my honest response. Convincing myself it’s only me who suffers, I watch as my peers endure similar trials. I notice as friends act uncharacteristically or change their appearance in order to “fit in.”
In a society where comparison forces individuals to conform to specific expectations, at what cost do we throw away our individuality? At the cost of our joy? At the cost of our original title: image bearers of God?
I make mistakes often. I don’t dress on trend, nor do I own the latest car, but neither did my Creator. Jesus, too, faced rejection. As fully God and fully man, Jesus endured rejection, temptation, stress, loneliness and criticism. While He bore the burden of the cross, many shunned and spat at him in disgust.
John 5:18-19 says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Rejection can be seen as redirection from God. He never creates faulty humans, nor does He intend for us to conform to the standards of a fallen world. In His perfection, God never creates anything less than beautiful. Rather than letting society define who we are, God provides us with our very first title.
Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
We tend to emphasize the beauty He created on the first five days of creation, but God’s prized creation came when he breathed life into mankind on the sixth day. Created “in the image of God,” we were never promised a life free of rejection. Instead, we were promised refuge in God’s unconditional love.
Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”
As image bearers of God, we can reject conformity to this world and bring change to it. We are called to spread the news of God’s undeserved kindness to those who have yet to know him.
On those days, when the enemy quietly whispers, “You will never be enough,” or when I wrestle with my identity and others’ perceptions of me, I was never meant to satisfy the standards of this world. As Christians, our mission is to bring change to the world, not to conform to it. Due to our imperfections, we cannot combat the pain of worldly rejection alone, but with Christ, everlasting acceptance can be found in the refuge of our perfect Creator.