Leah’s husband did not love nor want her.
Self-rejection or other people’s rejection can fool you into believing that you have no value apart from how you look, what you have, or how you perform.
How we see ourselves determines how we treat ourselves.
Leah’s story in the Bible (see Genesis 29:15 -35) can show you the truth about rejection and 3 ways to overcome its hurtful effects.
Leah: The Rejected Wife
One of the first mentions of Leah was about her appearance.
While her younger sister Rachel was described as beautiful in form and face, Leah was only described as having “weak eyes.”
Their relative Jacob fell in love with Rachel instantly. Jacob asked their father’s permission to marry her. Laban said that Jacob could have Rachel – if he worked for him for 7 years.
Jacob did it without complaint. After the 7 years was up, Jacob was ready to claim his new bride. But he was tricked. Laban had switched brides!
Jacob received Leah instead. Laban told Jacob that he had to take the oldest daughter first according to their tradition.
Leah had become a pawn, married to a man she knew did not want her.
While Leah’s story started out badly, it had a good ending.
The ”People-pleasing” Reaction to Rejection
Jacob worked another 7 years to receive Rachel as a wife. At the same time, he fulfilled his obligation to Leah.
It turned out Leah was quite fertile!
At first, the names Leah gave her sons expressed her identity as a rejected wife, longing for Jacob to love her:
- Reuben: “See, a Son”: This name expresses Leah’s hope that Jacob would find value in her because of her “performance.” After all, she had given him a son.
- Simeon: “Heard”: Leah affirmed that the Lord heard that she was unloved and had given her another son. To me, the name shows that Leah was still trying to have a voice in Jacob’s life based on her performance.
- Levi: “Attached”: This name speaks of desperation for connection. Leah thought surely Jacob would become attached to her because she had borne him 3 sons.
Do you see a pattern here?
Leah’s focus was all about getting Jacob to approve of and love her.
Even though Leah was a Godly woman, earning Jacob’s love was first in her heart. She was a people-pleaser of the first degree!
Many people make that same mistake today.
Because they don’t affirm their inherent worth in God’s eyes, nor give themselves love and approval, then they try to get it through performance, external achievements, or through other people’s opinions.
But that becomes a losing situation.
When that happens, you get caught up in a never-ending cycle of jumping over hurdles.
You can never rest because the minute you get affirmation through external circumstances, look! The bar is raised again.
Another hurdle to jump.
In your eyes, nothing you do is ever good enough. Plus, you always have a secret fear that the approval you gained externally will be taken away.
However in Leah’s case, something wonderful changed within her.
The Godly Reaction to Rejection
You can see Leah’s change by the time she gave birth to and named son #4.
This was the name she gave him:
- Judah: “Praise.” Leah declared, “Now I will praise the Lord.”
Do you see the shift?
Leah changed her priorities. She focused her heart on praising the Lord for the gift of her son, separate from her husband’s reaction.
The best news of all? Leah’s story has a great ending.
Jesus came through her son Judah’s lineage. Jesus was born through the tribe of Praise.
But that is a lie straight from the enemy! He wants you deceived so that you remain trapped in your own insecurities.
Even worse, it can lead you into creating a hostile environment mentally of your own creation:
- Insulting thoughts about yourself
- Thinking you are defective
- Wishing you were someone else
- Viewing your physical flaws through a magnifying glass.
When you live out that destructive, small story of life then you miss out on God’s wonderful, big story!
God created you on purpose and for a purpose. That fact remains true no matter what other people think of you or even what you think of yourself.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).”
If you want to keep on living the lie that you have no value apart from external things, then that is your choice.
But what a sad thing to reach the end of your life only to realize you wasted it because you chose to believe lies rather than the truth!
Thank God that Jesus is our High Priest. Jesus understands what rejection feels like.
Isaiah 53:3 records a prophecy about what our Messiah would suffer:
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.”
It hurts when other people reject you. No doubt about it.
I’ve experienced that hurt many times myself.
But we can take comfort in knowing that we are not facing anything that Jesus hasn’t dealt with Himself already!
We can learn from Leah and Jesus regarding how to deal with rejection:
1. Focus on praise. I love Psalm 139:14. King David wrote it (he came from Leah’s bloodline too):
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”
Praise the Lord for creating you and for giving you a part in His big story, which is saving lost people who don’t know Jesus.
2. Focus on God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus knew God the Father loved him. He affirmed it constantly:
The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand (John 3:35).”
Your Father loves you too:
for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God (John 16:27).”
Because of His love for you, Jesus was willing to endure other people’s rejection, torture, and even death to sacrifice Himself for your sins.
Aren’t you glad that Jesus did not allow rejection to distract Him from His purpose?
Where would you be if Jesus had allowed rejection to stop Him?
So affirm God’s love for you as Jesus did – constantly.
Affirm His love for you even in the smallest things.
My husband Mike and I often do that with each other. Whenever I see God’s favor evident in our lives, I will say “God sure loves Him some Mike Taylor!”
Mike will smile and say, “Yes, He does!” And then he responds, “God sure loves Him some Kim Taylor!”
I will smile and say, “Yes, He does!” Okay, this may seem corny to some, but it is fun and it never fails to remind us of God’s handiwork in our lives.
Just a simple affirmation like that will help you begin to unhook your self-worth from your performance or other people’s opinions.
3. Define your Identity by God’s Word. Stop agreeing with the enemy or other people’s negative opinion of who you are.
Walk in agreement with God’s good news about you.
If feelings of rejection haunt you, I challenge you to memorize Ephesians 1:4-6. Meditate on its truth and renew your mind in this area, in particular the last verse:
to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”
Did you get that? You may feel rejected at times, but never take rejection as your identity.
You are accepted in the Beloved!
Even if you have to repeat “I am accepted in the Beloved” every time the enemy resurrects feelings of rejection, then do it.
Why? Because that is the truth. Start operating according to God’s truth. Once that becomes a habit, you will never fear rejection again!
After all, you are now living for the approval of One – the God who created you and loves you to Life.
Be blessed in health, healing and wholeness,
Author of the Take Back Your Temple program
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