When Rejection Comes…

I woke up that morning feeling as though I had been hit by a truck. My body ached, still in desperate need of relief from physical pain, but this was something else, something more.

I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling and the more that my husband asked me to explain myself, the more frustrated we both became.

I felt deeply sad and yet passionately angry.

The pull between those two emotions was so overwhelming that I spent the day doing the only thing I know to do when things fall apart…


I pulled inside and remained there. Furiously trying to reconcile these feelings, begging God to do something…anything.

The reason:

The night before I sat in my own living room, across from a friend, a sister in Christ, a member of my own church family–and listened as I was accused of something I did not feel I had done.

I was told that in an earlier encounter I had been “severely harsh,” in my tone. I have long been told that I am “direct, assertive, authoritative, forward,” but never harsh. Not once has someone told me that my tone was “severely harsh.”

Now, I sat feeling as though I was being reprimanded by two other individuals and was asked to apologize  for my tone. Not the content of my words, not the feelings those words had perhaps wrongly induced, but for my tone.

And so I did. I apologized for something I did not feel I had done. I asked the Lord to bear the fruit of gentleness in me and to never allow me to get to a place where I excuse bad behavior with the line “Well, that’s just how God made me.”

It is an especially hard thing when hurt comes from within the Body. But it does and it will.

This felt like being sideswiped, however. As if I were sitting quietly in a car, minding my own business, only to be slammed into at full speed by a semi-truck.

Carnage followed.

I awoke battered and bruised, mis-trusting and uncertain. No longer wanting to speak or ever open my mouth again, for that matter. And I awoke feeling pulled between hurt and hope, between my flesh and the Spirit, between being overtaken and overcoming.

You know those moments when God is so obvious that it is almost laughable? When His fingerprints are so clearly all over a situation that no one can deny it was Him?

As I sat feeling hurt and a bit betrayed, I started to read a book that I was asked to review. It was a book by one of my favorite people, the ever-brilliant and forward-thinking Frank Viola. But, I did not want to open the book and begin reading. I wanted to crawl into bed and feel sorry for myself.

But I read and as I did, this is what God had scrolled out across the page:

If you are a Christian, you too will face rejection. You will face it from those who don’t know the Lord and who are hostile to His ways.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

But the rejection that cuts the deepest is that betrayal which is inflicted by your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If you choose to follow the Lord seriously, you will face rejection from some of God’s people.

I read on and felt as though God had written these very words for me, in this very moment. You know those moments? When the Creator of the Universe, drops into your bedroom and makes Himself comfortable?

I continued reading and was reminded that in following Christ, I am choosing to share in His sufferings. I was reminded that my Lord knows rejection and was rejected in the house of His friends.

I was reminded that: “Criticism and rejection are God’s tools for liberating His servants from human control and the desire to please men.”

I was reminded that I could allow this experience to create a wall between myself and the Lord, between this fellow saint and myself, or I could choose freedom.

I could surrender my will, my self-serving flesh, my stinking pride to the hands of God to re-shape and mold me to look more like Christ…or I could not. I could seek to please man or to please God. Fear man or fear God.

And with my flesh writing and screaming at me, telling me to just give up, to forget this whole “church is a family” line, to run–hell sprint in the other direction…I paused and grieved. I cried over what had been lost, but also felt the smallest flicker of hope for what was to come…

Christ glorified. Hopefully in me.

Now and always.

Have you ever been rejected by someone in the church? How did you move forward? What did God reveal to you through it? Any advice for me?

41 thoughts on “When Rejection Comes…”

  1. Not exactly the same situation, but experienced feeling betrayed by the pastor of my church, no less. Probably the biggest thing I learned in this was to put my faith in God, not man.

  2. I am called and pursuing Navy chaplain ministry and I have had my two best friends straight up tell me that they don’t think women are called in the way that I am. Navy chaplain’s minister to both men and women and openly share the gospel through counseling of both sexes and in some Christian traditions this is seen as unacceptable for a woman. I was sincerely hurt by this rejection from my friends, I felt they were rejecting me in a very personal way. They buffered it with love and affection but a rejection of what God has called me to felt very much like a rejection of me completely. Then I realized that identified far too closely with what others think of me and my ministry instead of being identified with Christ. My advice would be to seek God’s approval, not at the expense of your relationships, continue to walk in community (these two friends are still my very best and I’ve told them both that will not change though what they admitted hurt me) but seek His face. Because His face is shining on you! Delve more deeply into who you are in Christ, what that means, how that looks and the opinions of others are just overshadowed by the opinion of Jesus and you can continue to be in loving relationship with your church family no matter what they have to say about you.

    1. Megan: good for you for following after Dad’s leading. You may be interested in the following book: The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight. Among other things, he gives a excellent few chapters on why females should be “allowed” to engage in leadership positions. (His arguments are biblically based.)
      Wish you well

      1. Thanks for the book recommendation. I will most definitely be reading that right away because as a director of children’s ministry, I deal with a lot of “why are you a leader?” or “she works for us but she’s not really a leader” issues.

    2. Megan,
      I’m sorry that you went through that kind of rejection. I understand completely about what it feels like to have one portion rejected, but feel as though your whole self is being disregarded.

      Thank you for sharing such wise words of wisdom and practical truth. I value your words.

    3. Dear Megan, I am a chaplain’s wife and strong believer in Christ. Your advice is so sound! We must remember that when God calls us to serve He does not call us to please others. I’m 53 and have always gone ahead and done what I felt I needed to do, no matter I’m a woman. God bless you as you follow God’s calling for your life and His ministry.

  3. Nicole,

    As I have said before, your transparency is a breath of fresh air. Thank you for courageously sharing your heart. I completely understand what you have went through. Personally speaking, I have been rejected numerous times exclusively at the hands of fellow brothers and sisters. I cannot remember ever being rejected by a person who did not claim the name of Christ.

    Whenever I have been ‘corrected’ by another brother or sister, I take notice of what it produces in my spirit. If it produces death or discouragment, I know where that comes from and I cannot accept that. I usually respond by simply listening to their heart quietly and not responding unless I have an encouraging expression of Christ to share with them.

    By realizing the discouragment their ‘correction’ is bringing to me has helped me not do this to anyone else. I am more apt to look past offenses and bear with one another more fervently so I don’t ‘correct’ others the way I have been ‘corrected’.

    Having this posture has helped me hear when the Spirit is truly convicting me of a response that may have not come from Christ’s life in me. Apologizing from true conviction from the Spirit has never produced discouragment in me, but freedom.

    I appreciate your journey sister. Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Jamal, I love your response. I wish you could come to our church.

      Also, my favorite line of Nicole’s: “You know those moments? When the Creator of the Universe, drops into your bedroom and makes Himself comfortable?”

    2. Jamal,
      I love your words here. No, I treasure them. I never felt conviction from the Spirit in this instance, but I felt overwhelmed by the Spirt as this sister and I spoke. I knew God wanted me to apologize regardless, so that He might be glorified, so I did. But man, did it hurt. Not so much from pride, but from watching what I perceived as a healthy relationship suddenly shift.

      This sister has since pulled away from myself and others in the church and left many of us hurting and confused.

      But I find great comfort and hope in your instruction here. I learned so much from this situation and as you said, freedom is the result of a life dwelt in Christ. Thank you friend.

  4. You handled this beautifully, Nicole, both in person and in writing. What happened robbed us all of something sacred, something that had felt so safe, but you set the standard for how Christ wants us to react. For that, I am in awe and at peace. Love you.

  5. Ouch. This really hit home for me. I have experienced the exact same thing from someone very close to me. I confess to not handling it as well as you did when told I had been harsh with my tone. More than once. This quote resonated with me: “Criticism and rejection are God’s tools for liberating His servants from human control and the desire to please men.” I see this is an area where I need to make some changes; not in my tone which, like you, I truly feel wasn’t harsh, but in my response to the one who has said it of me. Thank you for the thought-provoking words today.

  6. Thank you for writing this Nicole.

    I don’t know if I was necessarily rejected by this person but highly reprimanded in a way that he thought the Lord was leading him. My spirit was very disturbed in me especially when he said that he was coming to a point of not praying for me anymore. It has taken awhile for me to pray about it, to heal and move on. I don’t hurt like I used to. Unfortunately, we have not talked or emailed since. I have asked for wisdom in this situation. It’s hard and I know what you are saying about the flesh writhing and screaming at you in situations such as these.

    I really liked what Jamal had to say.

    I have hope in God for you, that He will take you through this.

  7. “And with my flesh writing and screaming at me, telling me to just give up, to forget this whole “church is a family” line, to run–hell sprint in the other direction…I paused and grieved. I cried over what had been lost, but also felt the smallest flicker of hope for what was to come…”

    I am there. My husband and I are in the process of being ushered out of our church family, the family we have been a part of for 9 years, all because our theology isn’t perfectly in sync with the pastor’s. It is the most hurtful, infuriating, ridiculous thing I have ever experienced, and every inch of my flesh wants to say, “Screw it”, and just quit. I’m tired of theological discussions that go nowhere, I’m tired of being reprimanded for what I post on Facebook, and I’m tired of sitting through grace-less, compassion-less sermons.So we’re leaving, graciously and without recruiting a following, but also with very heavy hearts. It is so like a death, to leave a family, my heart hurts. Thank you for your words, I feel them today.

  8. Thank you for your encouragement. I’ve gone through a season of this and it’s been hard not to be angry and hold a grudge. I know the Lord wants me to think less of others opinions and more of his. As this season is passing I was feeling like I had failed, but I God hasn’t. He had made me a little less people pleasing and little more God pleasing. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Hi Nicole,
    I would push back on your connection between “reprimand” and “rejection.” It has been my experience that reprimand comes most often from love (although there are always exceptions especially in highly legalistic churches) and rejection comes most often from fear. In fact, I experienced my greatest liberation from one of my most torturous burdens (my anger) through the loving reprimand of a good Christian friend who chose one day to simply sit down across from me and say, “Caroline, the fact that no one has had the courage to tell you this before doesn’t make it any less true,” and then went on to explain that my temper was not only unacceptable, it was also inexcusable and just plain selfish.

    For years before this confrontation, I had lashed out to release whatever tension was building inside of me. Then, when the “storm had passed” I always felt remorse and apologized and I was always forgiven. Because of this cycle, I had begun to believe that my anger was “was just who I am” and that I was a “big personality” who “feels things deeply.” I defended myself along these lines to my new Christian friend, but she wouldn’t relent. Instead, she talked to me about the fruit of “self-control” and carefully and gently explained how I was living a lie by believing that something so hurtful could be just “part of who I am.” Because of her courage, I have been able to seek prayer and healing for the reasons I express such anger and have been able to spare my beautiful children from much (although certainly not all) the wrath that they would have incurred without her bravery.

    So if your friends were trying to do what my friend did, to help make room for the Spirit to make you more of who God created you to be and break you free of a lie of being less, than be grateful that you are loved. But as other commentators have noted, if they were trying to diminish you, trying to silence you, or trying to break you, then they are no friends at all.

    1. Caroline,
      The word reprimand is directly translated as “reproof” or “rebuke.” Now certainly these things can be done in love and while I understand the distinction you are drawing–this was not a case of loving correction.

      For the sake of protecting the sister with whom I had this exchange, I could not share al of the details and events leading up to our meeting, nor the events that followed. I wish I could say that her purpose or intent was to help make me more like Jesus. However, actions have proven otherwise.

      As Jamal commented as well, I was left feeling slammed, sore, attacked, and deeply saddened. There was no hope immediately following and I have begun to see that it was not of the Holy Spirit that I be left feeling that way. I was simply collateral damage in a much bigger war.

      1. Thanks for your response, Nicole, and for you willingness to share your experience with such a powerful and clear voice. I’m new to your site and am grateful for what you’ve shared here and in the other posts I’ve had the change to read. I also love Jamal’s words and agree with them whole-heartedly. Kudos to you for creating such an awesome space where people can support each other with truth and kindness. I wish it were always the case.

  10. Thank you, Nicole. Once again you are writing about my life. But you say it much better. I just went through a similar experience last week. Honestly, I was surprised by the depth and intensity of the inner violence I was hit with. My response was not to say a word. Then I went somwhere private to cry and pray. Afterwards I came back to this person and asked what could I have done differently. The answer- I don’t know. I replied that I can except a complaint because I’m aware that I’m not perfect, but not one that is devoid of hope for change.
    Normally when I’m corrected I grow from it; I don’t like it, but it does better me. This time felt different. It’s almost like it was a foreign entity and my body was rejecting it. Jamal’s words, “death and discouragement” cleared it up for me. There was no life in the criticism; nothing helpful, only hurtful.
    After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that what happened was not really about me but about what was going on in the heart of the other person. With that in mind I was able to keep my mouth shut (no small miracle), wait, and pray for my brother trusting that God was at work. He was, this other person responded, and the situation was resolved after 3 despairingly long days. I remember thanking the Lord afterwards for again proving that he is the God of restoration and reconciliation.
    The next time I’m tempted to confront someone, I pray I remember to ask myself two things: “What is my motive? ” and “Is what I’m about to say going to produce life or death in this person’s spirit?”

  11. I faced rejection at a church a couple of years ago. I brought it on myself, but I was stripped of a teaching position with no explanation. I’m not sure if it would have been easier if they had sat down with me and confronted me openly. But I definitely know it difficult the way it happened.

  12. I agree with Caroline. Her words are wise: loving correction is by no means rejection and you shouldn’t respond by rejecting the person who brought it. If at all possible, I recommend taking the person out for dinner, with no agenda other than to re-kindle your friendship. Don’t even bring up the subject of their reprimand…

    1. Stephen,
      This was not loving correction. It was simply cloaked as loving correction. And I certainly did not respond by rejecting the person who brought it, not did I suggest that I had or even wanted to.

      And to be honest, this person has now chosen to cut ties with myself and our church family. Yes, it was and unfortunately is rejection.

    2. Thanks for your comment Stephen, but I just want to clarify that I had intended to leave room in my response for the very real possibility that what Nicole experienced wasn’t loving correction and I appreciate the distinction that Nicole made in her response that this was “simply cloaked as loving correction”. Having experienced both, I know how very painful the latter can be.

  13. Hi Nicole, I haven’t commented here before but need to say this: Jamal’s advice is wise counsel. There is a fine line between accusation and reproof, and between condemnation and conviction. Something that is born of the Spirit of God in another will not make you feel either condemned or rejected. If you love the Lord (and I believe you do) you will recognise and receive Him in the words of another believer, and it will be freedom and love to you. If what is being said is tainted by someone’s else’s flesh it will leave you discouraged, ashamed and ‘slammed’. That which is truly of the Holy Spirit will not crush us. It may cause us to pause and take stock before God, and that’s a good thing, but we will emerge in gratitude, not confusion. Religion can look so very much like the Spirit. The proof is in the fruit. Hope this is helpful to you, from one who’s been there more times than I care to remember :-)

  14. Thanks for your transparency Nichole.

    This is the reality of the church being a family. There’s a saying where I come from: “when siblings claim to be truthful and they are always smiling at each other then they are definitely not telling themselves the truth”

    No matter how much we speak the truth in love, truth sometimes hurts…and sometimes pretty badly.

    We should cherish this kinds of wounds…not because it is pleasant, but because God uses it to grow us. In my little experience, it is the “hurtful” words that really reveals my heart. Sometimes I think I’m spiritual…only for such words to reveal the pitiful situation of my heart. It always leads me back to Jesus and leaves a sweet fragrance of Christ…always.

    It’s painful, but I’m grateful.

    Psalm 141:5 Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head…

    So be strong my sister. It’s painful, but useful.

  15. I was leaving my church because they had the habbit of using people and when they were done setting the poor soul up for failure. Then when the person was in that place they would come to the church to reconcile and the church would reject them because the person they wounded had a bad attitude.

    I avoided this when I discovered this until a man started dating me and wanted to get involved in the church. I shared this story with him and what eventually happened is he used me to get a position in the church. When he got the position he called and broke up with me while we were on our way to the same meeting.

    To be a good steward I went to the pastor and asked for guidance. The pastor decided I was jealous and asked a brand new employee and my boyfriend or I should say ex boyfriend to take me out and confront me.

    I was then crucified by two people who had known me for 3 months at the direction of the pastor who had known me for 6 years. BTW the pastor is now leaving as our church has gone from 1800 to 575.

    It was devastating on several levels. I did all I knew to do to recover the accusations. However, I could not listen to the pastors sermons anymore. It was sorry and cowardly and hardly an example of leadership. I was embarrassed and have really had to carefully move ahead.

    I would never leave my fellowship with Christ, but I can count on both hands and feet how many times this ridiculous behavior has happened in ministry work. It is shameful and sad that the church who is supposed to be teaching people about relationships and the people of God supposidly are so willing to tear people apart around the term God and Jesus.

    I was saved on the love message. The love message, love is patient, love is kind, it does not boast etc.

    I am a Jewish convert and the one thing I know about Rabbi’s, they don’t treat people this way. I have not left the church and have since found a group that is a better fit for my personality. What a disapointment.

    However, what I have learned in this process is about mercy and grace. How to set better boundaries and say no. In addition I have learned that not everyone is to be allowed in my world. Not everyone is to be a part of what I do as God has called me to do specific work. I have also embraced the calling He has given me as specific for me. Not others, I kept trying to give it away.

    I love Jesus, He is my light and salvation. Man, however, not so much. Still sorting this out.
    The guy I was dating left, ran away from all of it and eventually ran away from me. When he could not get what he came here for the way he wanted it. Then later sent me a letter saying he learned a lot. Whatever.

    The thing broke my hope. It is coming back, but it broke my hope into nothing.

  16. I was scrolling through my news feed and the title of this blog caught my eye. I’ve read a couple of your blogs before but never felt the desire to leave a comment. But I can’t help but give my two cents on this one.

    I’ve been in this situation before and, no offense, but I feel as though being told you have a harsh tone isn’t rejection. You’ve not been cast out or exiled or thrown away (rejected) nor revealed or exposed by someone being disloyal (betrayal). I have been told a couple of times before that my tone was harsh in something I said in a conversation and, while I admit that it stung a bit, I think it was an opportunity for me to grow and ask the person to relay back to me what I sounded like. I was surprised that I sounded the way that I did, but I knew it wasn’t my intention and therefore was able to apologize and have a second chance to express how I felt in a more appropriate tone. In no way were those people trying to betray me or reject me but just lend a helping hand and open my eyes to something I couldn’t see and my ears to something I couldn’t hear. I did not feel like Jesus when Judas betrayed Him, nor did I feel like Paul when he was rejected. It was a moment for me to grow.

    It just doesn’t make sense to think that when one is told that your tone is harsh, how it can become rejection or betrayal to this major extent?

    1. Kayce Rae,
      In all due respect, what I wrote about here is but a tiny glimpse into the events that lead to and followed this meeting. Without giving specifics, in order to protect the anonymity of my sister in Christ, I was absolutely rejected.

      The fact that I was called to a meeting to apologize for my tone, was simply one portion of a greater event which culminated in this person breaking ties.

      Just goes to show that even if I don’t write everything people assume it is everything. I simply cannot share every detail of what happened and still maintain integrity.

  17. Thank you for articulating this in a way that I could never do. This is what I’ve been battling with for the last year in waves. Praying for you this week

  18. Hi Nicole,
    I usually don’t comment, but I wanted to share an incident that happened to me a few months ago with you. This past summer my family and I sold our home and moved into a handicap accessible one in order to care for an elderly relative (I was her primary caregiver). Everything seemed to be going well until Christmas, when one of the relatives accused me of neglect. I have been rejected in the past and accused of things (sometimes rightfully so, sometimes not), but never before had I felt such a stab to the heart. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time apologizing and wondering whether what she had accused me of was true and I just didn’t realize it. She absolutely would not forgive me or even speak to me. It felt at times like my feelings were going to crush me. How could someone I thought I was so close to and cared about say such things? With God’s and the rest of my family’s help, I came to realize that the accusations were just that – accusations. There was no truth in the accusation. Eventually, she apologized and acknowledged that she had been unable to deal with what was happening to our elderly relative and had used me as a target for her anger and unresolved emotions. It seems from what you’ve said that this other person is lashing out at you because of her own unresolved issues, so I just wanted you to know that you’ll be in my prayers.

  19. Ya see….that’s why I like being around Jesus and not believers. When Jesus corrects me, or chides me, or rebukes me, or laughs with me, or even at me, it just doesn’t feel like rejection, because…wait for it…He doesn’t reject His chosen. Ever.

    People, on the other hand, well….yeah….um….you know how they can get.

    So let me get this straight: This chick has pulled away from you and others, after she said what she said to you? Hmm.

    Nicole, you might feel rejected, but she is walking with guilt on her head. I would approach her and speak openly of her not being embarrassed and that her pride is the last thing she needs to worry about being hurt. She’s nursing something now, and it isn’t good.

    1. A little off-topic but um, what do you think Jesus thinks about you liking to be around Him but not His Body that He’s the head of? If you cannot love (tolerate, prefer, put up with, be patient with) your brother who you can see, how can you claim to love God?

      1. Omonse,

        I never said I loved God according to your unspoken notions of what that means.

        If loving God means I have to walk out “love” for my brothers in Christ, according to a pre-concieved and ill-bred notion of what that love is supposed to mean, and never ever give the appearance otherwise, then I reckon according to you I don’t really love God. And I’m screwed then, aren’t I?

        *sigh* I guess Jesus wasted His sacrifice on me, then. Sorry, Jesus. I can’t live up to the expectations You placed on me….I guess I’m a failure…thanks anyways!

  20. Nicole,

    ….a bit more…

    You said:
    “…but from watching what I perceived as a healthy relationship suddenly shift.

    This sister has since pulled away from myself and others in the church and left many of us hurting and confused.”

    Yeah, the more I read this the more I would encourage you to pursue her and do not relent in looking her straight in the face and telling her, “It’s not your fault”.

    Those four words.

  21. Take comfort and joy in the fact that you handled it in a way that God would say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Family, whether it is the family of Christ or the flesh-and-blood family is rarely pretty or easy, but it is good. I started reading a book by Dietriech Bonhoeffer and his comment about community was that Jesus’ calling was not to live in a neat, orderly, free-from-conflict relationship, but to grow from our conflicts and to live out the love he has for us.

    Dear Lord, please heal Nicole of her headaches, give her Your eyes for the situation and the other person and show both of them how to heal the rift.

  22. Sounds to me like it’s time to have reconciliation instead of just complaining about it on here. I think a blog is a good way to express emotions but this is a real life matter and more than one person seems to be involved here. I doubt you’re the only one feeling attacked, etc. and again, I think it’s time to stop talking about the issue and move forward.

    1. Kayce,
      I didn’t see your comment when you originally posted it. I know you are friends with whom I wrote about, so I understand your position.

      But, please do not think that telling someone to “get over something,” of which you were not directly a part is helpful or productive. And writing about the incident is one way that I was able to, as you so blatantly put it “move forward.”

      I also wrote this post in the days following the event. So I was not going on and on talking about it, as you suggest. More than that, I asked for the permission of the person this is regarding. I even let her read the post beforehand.

      Your comment lacks grace and even kindness. But, thankfully I didn’t see it at the time because now, months later I have moved forward, happily.

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