“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” (Psalm 27:10)
Allow me to tell you the story of two men. Not just any men, but men who made quite a mark in history as being very powerful and influential. The first man flunked out of school, mainly because he was lazy. He also had a bitter spirit, especially toward a priest who had offended him. Born to a loving mother, sadly he endured beatings and humiliation at the hands of his father. Eventually he became so bitter at life that he decided he no longer believed in anything. The second man was born into a family of poverty. His mother wanted him to be a priest, but he rebelled and was thrown out of seminary. His father was a violent alcoholic who poured abuse on the entire family. This man too had a bitter spirit that he carried within him for his entire life.
Both these men experienced similar upbringings. They both rejected religion or anything to do with God. They found spiritual teachings to be burdensome and troublesome. The thought of a heavenly Father who loved them was inconceivable to them. The rejection and abuse their fathers inflicted upon them had hardened their hearts and made them callous. As a result, both these men were filled with intense rage. Rage and anger they thought would protect their hearts from being hurt anymore. That strategy led them to become abusive self-protective tyrants.
None of us escapes rejection and abuse in this world. Whether we experience them as a child from a parent, a sibling, or a bully at school. As we get older, the rejection and abuse cuts deeper into our heart when it is delivered from a spouse, a friend, or adults who should know better than to act like oppressive tyrants. Whatever the form of rejection and abuse is, wherever the source of it comes from; it cuts us to the core and leaves us attracted to the option of hardening our hearts to protect us from any more pain and sorrow.
We can’t keep ourselves protected from the pain of rejection and abuse others give us. There is only one thing we can do that will help us heal from the wounding pain. That is to forgive them. While hanging on the cross in excruciating pain, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them for they no not what they do.” Do you fully realize who he was asking the Father to extend forgiveness toward? It was the pious, religious, so-called spiritual leaders of his day who had rejected, persecuted, abused, and spurned him. The ones who should have embraced him, loved him, helped him, listened to him. The ones who should have been there for him, just like those who should have been there for us – but weren’t.
Rejection gives us an opportunity in life. The opportunity to choose to free ourselves through forgiveness. The opportunity to reject the temptation to harden our hearts with bitter feelings that have the potential of turning us into tyrants. If you don’t believe me, just grab your history book, and read the life of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.