Have you ever wondered why you feel so rejected? Why your heart hurts even over the small things you wish you could shrug off? Yeah, me too. But I think I’ve found the answer. Let me share it with you.
Last week I sent an email to my subscribers asking them what their biggest challenge is at this point in their lives. I asked so I can continue to write content that ministers to my readers. The responses I got humbled me because of how intensely raw and honest they were. Several told me about the deep hurts they are experiencing as a result of rejection. Rejection of friendships. Rejection of faith. Rejection of their bodies. Rejection in relationships in and out of the church. Rejection of their hearts and their spirits. I sat in my office stunned and saddened that I’m not the only one who feels the weight of rejection.
As women we tend to look at others and determine the kind of life they must live. We make snap judgments about the interior of a life based on the exterior. Take me for example. You might guess that because I’m slender I don’t struggle with my own body image. Or because I write about faith I don’t have moments when I feel unworthy of praying for other people. Or because I blog and have a website I don’t face rejection even in my own ministry. After I sent that email asking my readers how they’re struggling, I had several women unsubscribe. Every unsubscribe is a sting. In that one click, when a woman rescinds her invitation to me, I’m told that what I labor over has no value to her. Can you relate?
What about our social media rejection? It seems small, right? But it gets to us. When I first joined Instagram people with big followings followed me. I felt validation that I was bringing light into this dark world with my message. And then these same people unfollowed me. And I was left thinking, “What did I do wrong?” If you’re new to Instagram, maybe you haven’t heard of the follow/unfollow tactic. It’s a way to dramatically increase your number of followers by following tons of people. The idea is that once they follow you back, you can unfollow them and they likely won’t notice. This is another way we can feel rejected as people work to construct their perfect world – one in which they appear more vital and important than others. I had a Pastor do this. And a couple high-profile writers and bloggers in the Christian community. What? Yes. Really.
I expect rejection from the community outside of the church. In fact, Paul tells us that we should expect the rest of the world to see us as “out of our mind” because we are meant to be different because we have Christ in us. When people call my husband and me crazy, we think, Yes! We’re doing something right!
But we don’t feel celebratory when we feel rejected by our sisters in Christ. Because we expect more. We expect the women around us to lead with their light. But that isn’t always the case. Because – NEWSFLASH – they’re human. Just like us. Sometimes we all do the follow/unfollow trick. We invite women into our lives to make us feel better about ourselves. We join small groups for a couple months at a time. We make a meal for a hurting church member and a couple weeks later we forget their suffering. We offer promises of friendship, but life gets busy and we no longer take the time to see the women around us. We follow and then unfollow. And then we wonder why we feel so alone.
We wonder what we did wrong. Are we not bringing value into the lives of the women around us? Are we forgettable? Unworthy? Are we just waiting for people to unsubscribe? Are we waiting to be unfollowed and unfriended?
I think about Jesus a lot when I think about rejection. Jesus was jeered at more than he was cheered at. He was hung out to dry more than he was honored. I think about what his Facebook fan page would look like. I feel pretty confident his posts wouldn’t have gone viral. What he had to say wasn’t always sunshine and buttercups. People like to think of him as a softy with long flowing hair. But he was no hippie. He was actually a hard&^%. Look at his Sermon on the Mount. He rebuked adultery and divorce. He told us that if we can’t love our enemies our love doesn’t amount to much. He called out the hypocrites who focus on the flaws of others while ignoring their own. These aren’t popular ideas. No one was shouting “Preach it, Brother!” Because his words were hard. His life – the one he chose for the sake of us – was hard.
Jesus was rejected more than he was accepted. But those who accepted Him were the ones who mattered. Those who chose to follow Him took on the great commission. We are Christ followers because of the few who saw Christ for who HE IS. We should fist-pump the disciples. They ate rejection for breakfast so we can huddle at Starbucks and cry over our aching hearts. So we can go to church and worship and be reminded every Sunday that we’re just human. That we’re not enough. That we’ll never have it all together.
I believe rejection is a given. Until earth becomes more like heaven and the human condition is 100% Christ-centered, we’re going to be hurt, offended, forgotten, dismayed, angered, and silenced into tears.
But it’s who we follow who makes the difference. Let’s look at Jesus’s Instagram account to give us some perspective.
Christ is actively rejected by more than 5 billion people today. He’s rejected by more than half the world. And yet he’s still following every one of us. Waiting in love. Waiting in anticipation. Waiting with expectation. But in the waiting he’s still wounded. He’s still hurting. He’s still longing for those who reject him. Because that’s his nature. To give love. And to desire it in return – for our sake, not his. Because to love him is to be with him and the Father.Christ is actively rejected by more than 5 billion people today. Encourage a friend
I believe that the more Christ-like we become, the more we will hurt in rejection. The greater our heart becomes in Christ and the greater capacity for love we have, the more it will hurt when someone doesn’t want what we have to offer – whatever that is – whether it’s ministry, friendship, or love. As we become more like Christ we will seek out more people for which to give this love, but not everyone will want it. Not everyone will want you. Or what you offer. Sometimes they are rejecting Christ in you. Sometimes they are rejecting you. But the more we pursue God, the harder it will be to tell the difference. Because he is in us. And we are in him. We are linked. Melded. One.
This journey will hurt. It won’t be easy. But let’s be like the disciples. Let’s eat rejection for breakfast. And allow it to fuel us. Let’s be the women who can stand firm in Christ’s promises and live by his example.
Let’s follow more people than follow us. Let’s Friend people with the intent to love them – whether or not we receive it in return. And let’s subscribe to give selfless love even when it’s our hearts that ache to receive it.