It’s no secret that I’m in the middle of writing my first book. My grand epiphany throughout the process so far? Writing is hard, lonely work. It’s not glamorous. It’s tedious. It’s exhausting. And it’s easy to feel isolated and alone. But God has been so faithful to me during this season. He’s placed a small but mighty group of ladies around me who are all on a similar journey: authors, artists, songwriters, podcasters, speakers. We’re all called to leadership. We’re all putting in the hard work. And we’re all believing God for great things. Not necessarily great in scale, but great in impact.
Along with sharing our wins with each other, we’re also vulnerable and quick to share our losses and disappointments. Just this past week, my dear friend sent me this text (and you can take note of my response):
She had submitted the manuscript for her new book to a large Christian publishing house and had just received word that her writing was rejected. Her story was rejected. Her months and months of quiet, faithful work was rejected. How could her spirit not be crushed?
I know what it feels like to be rejected.
Furthermore, I know what it feels like to be rejected by God’s people.
I know what it feels like to spend years faithfully serving alongside brothers and sisters in a certain ministry, only to resign and be cut-off from those precious relationships, almost entirely. I know what it feels like to spend years cultivating deep friendships, only to be betrayed and rejected by women you love, seemingly overnight. I know what it feels like to be told you’re not good enough, not skinny enough, not smart enough, not gifted enough. I know what it feels like to be overlooked and undervalued. I know what it feels like to be uninvited to the party.
I’m not sitting here feeling sorry for myself. Because the fact is, if you have skin on your body and blood in your veins, you know how it feels to be rejected, too.
Our Savior even understands rejection. Isaiah 53:3 tell us, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised and we didn’t value him.” Jesus knows rejection. At the hour of his death, all of his dearest friends betrayed and abandoned him, denying that they even knew him. Jesus knows how it feels. I’m so thankful that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” (Hebrews 4:15) If Jesus experienced rejection on this earth, then we can rest assured we will, too.
Rejection is part of life. And it can be one of the greatest blessings you ever experience, if you’ll let it.
God used the rejection that Bradley and I experienced a few years ago to catapult us into the new season of ministry that he had waiting for us. We had grown comfortable and complacent where we were. Happy to sit back and enjoy the easy life that we had. But God had more for us. He wanted us to grow and stretch. He wanted to enlarge our tent. He used rejection to propel us forward. Did it hurt? Like crazy. Pruning is painful. Pruning involves cutting. Pruning involves eliminating the parts of your life that are no longer serving your purpose or are hindering your maturation. Pruning is necessary because it causes you to grow. And your growth brings glory to your Father. (See John 15:8)
God used the rejection of a longtime friend to make room in my world for new, lifegiving relationships. I needed to experience the pain of rejection in order to appreciate the thrill of total love and complete acceptance. I needed to know what it felt like to be betrayed so I could minister to those who have felt the same way. I needed to learn how to totally forgive and love and pray for someone who no longer wants anything to do with me. I needed these lessons. I needed this rejection.
I have also experienced a season where those in ministerial authority over me did not see the value of the gifts God put inside of me. They didn’t esteem the calling that God had given me. To put it bluntly: I wasn’t good enough. To be honest with you, I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me for a long time. I chose to believe that I wasn’t good enough, or gifted enough, or anointed enough. But God held onto me. He used this season of my life to develop much-needed humility, patience, and perspective. I realized that I didn’t always have to be the one on stage with the microphone. I realized that God was in control of if/when/where I used my talents…not me. So I wrestled with these questions: Am I going to listen to what people have to say about me? Or am I going to believe what God says about me? Am I going to follow him in obedience? Or am I going to let someone’s negative opinion derail me? God used the rejection I experienced at the hands of others to confirm his calling on my life. The pain I felt pushed me further into the arms of my Savior, where I’m always welcomed and loved and safe. God has never once rejected me.
To quote the above text I sent to my friend, “The wrong people have to reject you in order for the right ones to accept you.” If every door always opened for you, you’d rarely enter the right one. If you became friends with every person you encountered, you’d never develop deep, satisfying relationships. If everyone accepted you every time, you would have zero compassion, zero work ethic, and zero humility.
Rejection is inevitable. But it is also a gift. It’s a tool that God uses to guide you on the path he has prepared for you. Does rejection hurt? Heck yes. And it’s okay to feel the pain. But don’t let it derail you. Don’t let it throw you off-course. Dig your heels in and choose to believe God. Believe that this current rejection is setting you up for future acceptance. This closed door is guiding you to the one that will swing wide open for you. The betrayal of that friend is leading you to the loyalty of another. This painful pruning is making space for you to bear much fruit. And it is to your Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.
So go ahead and rejoice in your rejection.