As our series on adjusting to the stepparenting role winds down, I’ve saved a few posts to talk about issues that have hugely impacted me or my stepfamily. Today, I want to tackle feelings of rejection.
During my years of stepparenting, I’ve dealt with more rejection than I want to think about. As I write about it today, I recognize the lump in my throat and sick-to-my-stomach feeling that accompanies rejection. But I’ve learned to cope with rejection by realizing that my identity and self-worth are found in Jesus Christ, the One Who will forever love me.
My self-worth is not dependent on my stepchildren loving me or accepting me as their stepmom. It is not dependent on whether my husband agrees with every move I make with his children. My self-worth and identity are dependent upon my acceptance of Christ’s love and forgiveness for me.
Rejection comes in different forms but can be felt when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others, but are not accepted by them. It usually stems from unresolved issues by the rejecting person. And although feelings of rejection are painful, it doesn’t mean we have failed or done something wrong.
Rejection of a stepparent is most commonly related to loyalty issues the stepchild is combating. (See blog post on Loyalty Issues). As a stepparent continues to love and care for his stepchild amidst feelings of rejection, a relationship can develop over time. But it requires a lot of patience and dedicated prayer to continue to love someone who is rejecting you.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that Christ’s love is “wide and long and high and deep.” (Ephesians 3:18) It offers peace and comfort during times of distress and dissension. If offers a way of escape during times of piercing words and threatening actions. His love is readily available for us when we choose to turn to Him and accept it.
Rejection is never easy to deal with. As a stepparent, it may come and go or disappear altogether as the relationship grows. But when we choose to accept that our sense of self and identity are dependent on our worth in Christ, not on other people, we can learn to cope with rejection.