When I was a kid, one of the cruelest school practices was choosing teams. Whether it was softball, debate, or whatever, captains were selected. Teachers would then have students stand against the wall while captains took turns choosing who would be on their teams. So everyone knew who was chosen first, second and so on. And everyone knew who was chosen last. To be chosen last was humiliating—a sign of rejection. To feel unwanted is devastating.
We live in a world of rejection. All of us have experienced it in one way or another. Maybe as a shy boy you were turned down for a date. Maybe you applied but didn’t get the scholarship for college. Maybe you interviewed but didn’t get the job. Maybe you got the job but the company president laughed at your ideas. Maybe your father walked out on your family. Maybe your mother constantly berated you. Maybe you were always the last one chosen for the team. Even worse, maybe they wouldn’t even let you play on the team. We can go through life feeling like losers.
Enough rejection can lead to personality disorders like unwarranted fear, feelings of inferiority, anxiety or depression. Rejection can make us feel unwanted, unappreciated, and unloved. It causes us to focus on the negative instead of the positive, impute motives and overreact to simple comments. If someone says, “My, doesn’t your hair look nice today,” we might think, “What did she mean by that? Is she saying my hair usually looks lousy?”
It can even lead to perceived rejection in other areas of our lives. In other words, we think people are rejecting us when they aren’t. This perception becomes our reality—if we think we’re losers, we act like losers.
If we have ever felt rejected, we are not alone. Jesus was rejected—by those in his hometown (Matthew 13:54-58), by many of his disciples (John 6:66) and by those he came to save (Isaiah 53:3). Even before Jesus walked among us, God was rejected. After everything God had done for the Israelites, they wanted to be ruled by a king instead of by him (1 Samuel 10:19). Rejection is nothing new.
God, however, created us for acceptance, not rejection. That’s why he will never reject us. We might reject God, but he won’t reject us. He wants us. Jesus loves us so much he died for us before we even acknowledged him (Romans 5:8). He came not to condemn us but to save us (John 3:17). He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). All we have to do is embrace the God who seeks to embraces us.
The good news is that God has chosen us to be on his team and even part of his family (Acts 10:34-35, Galatians 4:5-7). And it doesn’t matter what our skill level is, because if we let Jesus live in us, he’ll take care of all that. We are winners, not losers! All we have to do is accept this truth, show up and be ready to participate. So let’s join in the game of life. We are valuable members of the winning team.