All of us have unchangeable features that make us unique individuals. When these differences are pointed out by others, especially in insensitive or even malicious ways, the resulting concern may cause varying degrees of self-rejection. Individuals who demonstrate the following traits may struggle with the issue of self-rejection.
- Inability to Trust God
If a person rejects God’s design for his physical appearance, he probably will have difficulty putting confidence in the Designer’s plan for other areas of his life.
- Excessive Shyness
Fear of rejection by others may motivate a person to avoid the risk of interaction with others.
- Difficulty in Loving Others
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 19:19). If a person cannot accept his design and love himself in the right way, he will have difficulty loving others.
Complaints about unchangeable physical features, abilities, parentage, and social heritage are indications of self-rejection.
- Comparison with Others
Desiring to be different in areas that cannot be changed is clear evidence of self-rejection. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20).
- Over-attention on Appearance
While one’s appearance should be socially acceptable in the areas of cleanliness and modesty, overattention on such matters may be an attempt to cover up or compensate for physical features that are perceived as shortcomings or unwanted in our lives.
Many people have said, “I hate myself!” They may be referring to their words or actions in the past, in which case they should discern whether they are feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit or condemnation from Satan. However, they may be referring to their whole being, in which case their hatred is ultimately directed toward the One Who made them.
It is healthy to want to do our best, but we need a good balance between the time expended and the value of the accomplishment. When we are so focused on being “perfect,” the time factor outweighs the benefits. This intensity is an indication of self-rejection because you tend to continually condemn your best as never “good enough.”
- Attitudes of Superiority
Often a person with an attitude of superiority actually feels inferior but is trying to narrow his field of comparison.
- Awkward Attempts to Hide Unchangeable Defects
Actions and statements that reveal an attitude of self-consciousness may indicate self-rejection. However, we can trust God to transform our weaknesses: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Corinthians 12:9).
Lavish spending on expensive, trendy, or brand-name items may be an attempt to gain admiration, “status,” and acceptance from others.
- Wrong Priorities
Self-rejection may be reflected in a neglect of God-given responsibilities in order to spend much time in pursuit of that which could bring acclaim from others.
Dealing with self-rejection requires turning to God, thanking Him for how He made you, and understanding the reality of who you are in Christ. The God of the universe loves and accepts you! The foundational truth for accepting yourself is the confidence that God personally fashioned you with each of your features by His love and wisdom. Even your DNA is unique; there is only one you!
For thou [God] hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:13–17). (See also Psalm 100:3, Isaiah 44:2, Isaiah 49:1, Jeremiah 1:5.)
You are made in the image of God. As a believer, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and your body is now a member of Christ’s body. (See Genesis 1:27, I Corinthians 3:16-17, I Corinthians 6:15.) Satan, the enemy of God and His people, hates these facts and wants you to reject yourself and how God made you. He wants you to become discontent and discouraged, so that you will ultimately reject God.
In the same way that an artist or poet expresses his innermost values and thoughts on canvas or paper, God expresses Himself through that which He has created and desires to create in you. His ultimate goal is that you become His living “epistle,” known and read by all (see II Corinthians 3:2). You are God’s “workmanship.” (See Ephesians 2:10.) The Greek word translated “workmanship” is poiema, meaning “a product.” The word poem is derived from this Greek word. Each unchangeable part of your life is like a word that the Master Poet carefully chooses or a color that is wisely prepared by the Artist. If you, as the “canvas,” reject those words or colors, you are rejecting the message and purpose of your Designer. This rejection of self often leads to distrusting God. Instead of rejecting the Master Designer’s work, thank Him for how He made you and for the plan He has for your life!
As a Christian, your confidence should never be in yourself. Instead, your confidence should be only in the power of Christ to work in and through you. This is one of the great principles of the Christian life. The more aware I am of my human weaknesses and inabilities, the more I will be able to draw upon Christ’s supernatural strength. (See Philippians 3:3.) My union with Christ is the secret of my confidence. (See Galatians 2:20.)
For this very reason God allowed Paul to have a “thorn in the flesh.” This thorn was a constant reminder of his weakness, but it was also a constant motivation to draw upon God’s strength as it was perfected in Paul’s weakness. Thus, Paul was able to say: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).
Self-acceptance is not a onetime decision but requires an active, daily acceptance of whatever God brings into your life. To overcome self-rejection, begin by meditating on the truths of Scripture and what God says about you. Try personalizing Scripture to meditate on God’s thoughts toward you. For example, Philippians 1:6 personalized would be: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in [me (or my name)] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Here are some other verses you may personalize to think about yourself as God thinks of you:
- Psalm 3:3—But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
- Ephesians 1:6—To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
- Romans 8:1—There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
- I John 3:2—Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
As a result of accepting and believing Satan’s lies, you may have yielded areas of your soul to his dominating influence. These areas need to be reclaimed. When old thoughts of rejection return, they must be taken captive to the obedience of Christ (see II Corinthians 10:5). Self-acceptance is not about liking yourself, but rather about seeing God’s design for you and understanding the purpose of each feature that He has brought into your life. Some of your attributes may be unpleasant, like Paul’s “thorn”; however, self-acceptance is being at peace with God for His allowing the unchangeables to be in your life and excited for what can be accomplished in and through your life because of them. The more fully you understand and appreciate the way God made you, the more you can love my neighbor as you love yourself (see Matthew 19:19).