By: Christine Baskin
To me, rejection feels like being pushed off a cliff.
I am often reminded of the events which have hurt me the most since my new life as a believer. The most traumatic, were from the people I trusted most. The more I trusted the person, the harder the fall.
After my divorce, entering into a new Church was one of my worst fears. I’d been rejected by my leaders, and by my Pastor. I contemplated staying home, and studying the Bible on my own for a year, moving out of state, all to cover my shame, and to prevent having to explain what I felt was my biggest failure.
I ended up in a at a church service where the Pastor was preaching Acceptance. “If you’re here today, and you’re wondering if this is the Church for you, God is saying, “YES”. This is where you belong.” I got my answer that day.
But I was still licking my wounds from the last Church. Afraid to trust again. Fearing this Pastor would let me close to him, then push me away. He would see my flaws, and then be disgusted with my sin, my past. I wouldn’t even sit near the front lest I be seen by him. I’d go home and cry my eyes out. I literally didn’t want to ever meet this pastor, just come late, leave early, and talk to as few people (outside my two girlfriends who went there) as possible. Then one day, my friend dragged me over to meet pastor’s Wife. To my surprise, I really liked her. She didn’t look down at me because I was a single Mom, with nothing to give. She didn’t view me as a burden, a failure. Quite the opposite -she welcomed me. That Christmas she presented me with a gift that really Blessed my family during what is normally a very difficult season. I insisted to myself, I still did not have any interest in meeting her Husband. I would let him preach to me, but I wouldn’t form a relationship built on any kind of trust. I wasn’t ready to be pushed off another cliff.
Each week I attended, my heart swelled with gratitude for the Pastor. I knew he was led by the Spirit because of his preaching, and the fruit of it became evident in my own life. I studied the notes, and began to grow a hunger for God’s Word I hadn’t had in years. I began to see the habits of Jesus played out in my own life like never before.
I began to see in this man walk out forgiveness, humility, and righteousness. He wasn’t perfect (none of us are), but I noticed the way he always made a point to reach out to the people in the congregation no one else seemed to take note of. He wasn’t interested in the popular, the rich, the handsome. He wanted the poor, the humble, the meek. The man who swept the floors was just as important to him as the guest speakers.
One day he noticed me, and I shook his hand. I remember feeling scared, but welcomed. He spotted me each week, and made a point to come over to me. The divorced, single Mom. I often felt I had a big red “D” stamped to my forehead, but he never seemed to notice.
I began to respect what I knew about him, also what I did not know. I know that in some ways, I would eventually get hurt, as it happens with every relationship here on this side of Heaven. I realized the closer we get to people, the more risk for pain is at stake, but also the most reward. The more we invest, the more the return. The more seed that is planted, the bigger the crop. I began to plant down seeds of trust, willingness to get hurt, vulnerability.
As I grew in my relationship with my Pastor and his Wife, I began to see their strengths and weaknesses, and I’m sure they’ve seen mine. I began to feel comfortable making new friendships in the Church. I didn’t feel judged. Day after day, my trust grew, and I no longer feared being pushed off the cliff. I realize now, I’d been standing on the edge, expecting to be pushed. Who wouldn’t? Rejection is tricky like that.
In the end, his redemption comes. Not overnight, But it comes all the same.
One of my favorite books in the Bible is Job. I know, its weird… But I love a good redemption story! Even when all hope seems lost, Job was recompensed twice what satan had stole from him. Job 42:10b says “..the LORD made him prosperous again, and gave him twice as much as he had before.” v12, “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” I love that Job replied to the Lord in v2, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” It wasn’t God’s plan to torment Job, it wasn’t even his idea. God knew that what fails here on earth, what seems lost, can always be renewed if it’s God’s plan. And better yet, if we stick with Him, it will be better!
We see things from an earthly perspective, God sees from an eternal perspective. God sees the rejection, and pain from your past, and He’s saying to you right now, “I am bigger than the hurt. I am stronger than rejection.” No matter what your belief system is, all faiths can agree that love truly is the strongest force in the universe. God IS love, and His son (Jesus) accepts you! Isn’t that the gospel? Every pain, every scar, every gaping wound is redeemable by Jesus!
The Savior of the world doesn’t want you to run away from Him, rejected and pained by the weights of this world. He wants you to come to Him: the brokenhearted, the rejected, the shamed. No shame is too heavy for him! No sin is too big! He already carried it with Him to Calvary. He already died for it. Your rejection was no surprise to Him, but He desires to restore you, and turn those ashes into beauty. If you’ll come to Him, and ask Him, over time, He will restore your soul.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e] shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord
A Psalm of David 23:1-6
It always comes down to our faith in God, not man that thwarts us into God’s will for our lives. Because I trust God, what can man do to me? The next test of my life will surely be harder, as each stretch of my faith takes me closer to His glorious Kingdom. But I know that as God has redeemed me once, He will surely do it again!