He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Isaiah 53:3 NKJV
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
John 15:18-19 NKJV
I know this will come as a shock to no one, but growing up I was never one of the cool kids. I really wanted to be, though. Everyone has an innate desire to be loved and accepted. Turns out, I am not destined for love and acceptance from neither the cool kids, nor the world.
When I was young and my view of the world was so narrow (this was before the internet…) it seemed like everything to be connected to the ones who seemingly had it all; good looks, money, personal connections, talent and ability. I actually had some of those things too, but it really only seemed to matter to the world if there was someone else around that believed and acknowledged them. I turned myself inside out trying to be someone worthy of the time and attention of some of these people with whom I desired relationship. I failed at faking being cool, but I absolutely succeeded in becoming someone I was never meant to be by the constant and deliberate choices I made to act in opposition to my true, uncool self. Still uncool, rejected and now completely unrecognizable. These are the soul scars I carry into adulthood.
It’s really hard to take a good, long look in the mirror and find you don’t recognize yourself, nor do you remember where you begin and your persona ends. What parts of myself are really me, and what are the parts of myself that I put on for the benefit of others? If I were to make the bold choice of letting all that imitation-self go and just be who I am, will every person who has ever “known” me feel lied to? Do I actually have any friends at all who know or care to know me? Is there anyone in the whole world who could actually know me, when I don’t even know myself?
God knows me; He knows me better than I know myself and He is in the process of stripping me down to my most basic, true state of being so that he can begin to conform me into the image of Christ. All this time I never realized that the deep desire I had to please and conform to the nature of those around me was really a perversion of what had always been there and was put there by God. I was designed to crave love and acceptance from God, the one who made me and gave me life. I was meant to go through careful and systematic pruning of self so that I could be more like Jesus. I had all the right instincts, just the wrong idols. I am also very grateful now that I never ended up being one of the cool kids and that I never felt accepted by them, because I would have settled for a cheap imitation of love and acceptance, and would have been so comfortable in these shallow relationships that I never would have sought the one who is the only one who has or will ever truly accept me and love me perfectly.
Hear me on this: The ONLY one who will never leave you or forsake you is Jesus. He is a true friend who doesn’t wait until you’ve cleaned yourself up or pruned away the undesirable before you can be friends. He is my good and faithful Father who gave it all for me before I knew I needed or wanted it. The persistent lover who pursued me when I ran away and forgave me when even I was in the business of despising and rejecting Him as I ran after false idols and people who would never satisfy my desire to be loved and accepted.
I am so truly grateful to know and love my God, who has made me a new and beautiful creation, to be one who He planned and designed before I was born. He prepared me for a life of rejection because as I am being made more like Jesus I will only experience more rejection in the world as He did. I have been trained to handle rejection through my life experiences so that when I am rejected for His name’s sake I won’t be emotionally crushed by the weight of glory that I will receive for the suffering I endure.