A Prayer to Refocus Your Thoughts
By Jessica Van Roekel
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8
Have you ever walked into a room and felt you didn’t belong? I entered a meeting the other day, and I felt nobody wanted me there. Frowns and furrowed brows graced their faces. It spiraled me into a series of negative thoughts. I thought I wasn’t good enough, likable, or worthy of acknowledgment. I struggled to bring my attention to the purpose of the meeting because I felt rejected. Perceived rejection is assuming rejection before it has happened. I’m a genius at pre-rejecting myself on someone else’s behalf. I interpret the squint of the eyes as disapproval and the purse of the lips as annoyance toward me. I assume I’m already rejected to protect myself, but this behavior leads me into a cycle of being rejected and rejecting other people. I became aware of this tendency when the Lord revealed how the fear of rejection prevented me from walking in the ways he had for me.
God longs for us to grow in kindness and mercy. He wants us to know who we are in Christ, which is chosen, approved, desired, and discipled. Yet, when we get stuck in patterns of pre-rejection, we wrestle with these. We assume the worst about ourselves and others. Our focus drills inward until we see ourselves through a rejected lens. This rejected lens prevents us from seeing someone else’s struggles and worries. It interferes with compassion toward others. It takes us down a path of assumptions, leading to misunderstandings and broken relationships.
While many of us have external struggles with home, family, work, and finances, we also deal with internal battles. Our mind is one of the greatest places of battle, where external battles are won or lost. Pre-rejection steals our peace and promotes anxious thoughts, influencing our actions and attitudes. It’s amazing how I feed rejection when I assume I’ve been rejected. When I start from a place of assuming rejection, it impacts potential new relationships. If I’m closed off and self-protecting, it makes me seem cold and unfriendly. This is not who I am, but when I’m ruled by fear, it’s what I display. I’ve learned the secret to overcoming this tendency lies in my thoughts.
Romans 12:2 tells us to “be transformed by the renewal” of our minds, and pre-rejecting ourselves on behalf of someone else assumes the worst possible outcome. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians to guard their hearts. Guarding our hearts promotes peace within ourselves and our relationships, but we must work at it. Our minds naturally run along negative tracks, but we can retrain our thoughts. Imagine what would happen if we concentrated on whatever is good, and when we walk into a room, we think about what is honorable. Rejecting yourself because you’re afraid someone might reject you doesn’t honor you or the other person.
One of the ways to overcome this tendency is to look for the good in others. I realized when I assume someone has rejected me, I’m projecting my fear of rejection onto them. They might be frowning in my direction, not because of me, but because of something in their life. Instead of responding with compassion and outward focus, we react with self-protection and self-focus. I still walk into meetings with the “Will they like me?” game playing in my head. But I’m learning to refocus my thoughts on myself and asking the Lord, “How can I show them you?” It starts in our minds and then translates into actions.
Thank you that you give us all the tools we need to live this life for you. Forgive us when we forget to use them and let our thoughts scatter to unhealthy and life-stealing pathways. We want to focus on you. You are honorable, lovely, true, commendable, just, and excellent, and when we think about you in these terms, you help us think about others in them too. Help us refocus our thoughts today. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Ryan McVay
Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.
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