I have been dealing with a lot of hurt from rejection lately. I would like to tell you that I have it all together. I mean, on the outside I look good: I dress nicely and put makeup on. Unfortunately what we see on the outside really doesn’t say much for what is on the inside. On the inside, I am a hot mess. I am full of pain, anger and all kinds of negative emotions. I can’t even fake being OK anymore. The other day someone asked how I was doing, and I replied “terrible”. Well, it’s the truth.
Aren’t you tired of lying to people about the condition of your heart? Don’t you want to stop playing nice and start being honest? I mean, if you are having a terrible day, or are going through a rough patch, don’t you want to stop telling people you are “good” or “fine” when you are not? I know that we are supposed to have social standards as to how are greetings go, but it has gotten so that we cannot be real with each other anymore. No one has the time to listen to another’s problems, nor do they want to be burdened with it. Since when did our problems become burdens on other people? What happened to the days where we all shared our burdens with one another, helping each other and sharing our lives together? Isn’t this one of the foundations of the New Testament Church? Yet here we are, 2016, and we have fallen so far away from that concept it’s foreign.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
I have felt very alone for my entire life. I was raised by a family that was emotionally unavailable and was abusive. I had no concept of healthy relationships and very few friendships because of it. I was shy, timid, and a homebody. I did not have many opportunities to develop healthy social skills. As a result I kept to myself most of the time, rarely looked people in the eye, and never smiled at people for the most part. I wanted desperately to have friends, to be loved, and to have a social community in my life as an adult. I would have done many things in the name of being approved of by another human being, just to feel wanted and good. Yet I continued to be alone and rejected by the world, as I perceived it.
When I first started going to church, I took all this pain and rejection by man with me. It is impossible to drop baggage that easily, unless God steps in and takes it for you. I did not even realize I had an issue with feeling rejected and unloved at that point. I was functioning in it, and it was normal for me. I was ecstatic to have a place of community, finally. I began to try to reach out to others as we met people, hoping to make friends and relationships that would last. Especially for my children. What I got in return was more feeling of rejection that led to more pain and a big ball of anger. Anger is a secondary emotion to pain. Pain is the root of many emotions. It is much easier to lash out at others, than to deal with our own pain. It got to the point where within a few months I was ready to leave the church. Hurt after hurt was piling up, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
That is when I let Jesus in, and begged Him for help. I did not want to be so angry at people anymore. What I did not realize was all that anger came from the pain and perceived rejection I felt. I also did not realize that I had already been immensely hurt by the church, and that was causing a lot of feelings of rejection by the people I met at church. When I first decided to give my anger at others to God, it went pretty well. I tried praying for those I was angry at (aka hurt me) and within a short amount of time I saw myself becoming less easily angered by other peoples actions in my life. Then I went from not looking people in the eye and not smiling at people, to truly learning how to love people. How to see them for something more than their behavior in my life, or what they appeared to be on the outside. I would smile at people as I walked by them, I would listen to people when they talked to me (instead of thinking about myself), and I would pray for them and encourage them. It was truly a miracle in my heart.
There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
1 Corinthians 12:25
I thought I was completely changed and I was so very thankful to Jesus for the work He had done in me. But while my anger at those in my life changed into love, my anger still swelled within the privacy of my home. I would lash out continually at my husband and children, and frankly, I was the most abusive to myself. I could never see the way I would tear into myself with horrible thoughts as abuse. It was just how I had always been. And I deserved it all. It is easy to think that we can make changes in our lives without the work, but that is not reality. Yes, Jesus can work miracles inside of us, and even heal us in many ways, but that does not take away the work that we need to do for our part.
Jesus could have taken away all my pain and healed me completely from my emotional wounds and set me free. That is 100% possible. I think I would have entirely missed the point though. The real miracle is not in the immediate healing of my heart and emotions, but of the willingness I had to submit myself to Jesus in the midst of all the pain. To surrender my heart to Him and face my anger and pain, and go to the root of it with Him. In this surrender, I have been able to see God for who He truly is. I have been able to understand why I have behaved the way I have, and felt the way I have. Yes, I could have gone through my life never dealing with the root of my pain and rejection, but what good would that really have done me? It is through facing our pain that we come to know true strength, love and compassion for one another. It is this compassion that has driven me to continue working on my blog, and Youtube videos and answering emails, even when I can barely function some days. It is because I know suffering, pain, rejection and hell, that I am motivated to help others going through the same things.
That is why I am struggling again as I go to church. I have been in the pit of despair for months now. I have been unable to be that person that smiles as she passes people by, or who offers encouraging words and prayer. I have not even been able to look people in the eyes as much, but instead find myself looking down to the ground. Sometimes I am just swallowed by pain, fear, rejection and even shame. And then I hate myself for not even being able to be that person I know God made me to be. That person seems far off and distant now. It seems almost cruel to have given me such a sweet taste, and then rip it away. But it is not. What God did for me is to give me hope. To show me who He did make me to be, in comparison with who I have been living as. It is indeed a wonderful gift, as bad as it sounds.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
2 Peter 5:8-9
In the meantime, I have pushed everyone in my life away, and especially people at church. I cannot bear the thought of being rejected and hurt again. Yet it seems every little thing causes me to feel rejected by others. It is as if I have open wounds, visible to the world, and that I am completely vulnerable. Yet that is not how the world sees me. They still see me as that well put together women who is kind and loving. I will bet that I have unintentionally hurt others by not engaging with them, and pushing them away. I don’t even say hi to people anymore. I just walk by, looking the other way. It is the best I can do, because often times interaction with others is so painful, it is all I can do to not cry. It is as if my pain is an ocean, and I am a lone and remote island in this sea.
One of the things that hurts the most is knowing others have seen this change in me, and can obviously recognize something is wrong, yet never approach me. There are no consoling words when they see me cry, not hugs when they sense something seems off, no prayer offered when I drop out of my Bible studies, etc. That is where my strong feelings of rejection come in. And isolation. It seems that when you are going through something really tough and you are afraid to reach out, that it is better to stay alone. To keep your problems to yourself so as not to burden others. Or, so you don’t look weak, or foolish, or like a freak. That is how I have felt. Like a freak. I mean, who has a story of satanic ritual abuse? Not many that I have heard. Sounds freakish to me. So when others don’t reach out, and you are constantly looking in, it is so easy to just let the rejection and pain become your reality. That is exactly the spot the devil wants you in.
Why is it that we find it so easy to keep our lives to ourselves, never reaching out to others? Are we all harboring fear of rejection? Is it really easier to live life with a select few people in your close knit circle? As Christians, why are we continually putting on this facade of “everything is great” or “I am perfect”? We are the ones who should be wearing our hearts on our sleeves, our pain not hidden. It is because of this brokenness we ever came to Jesus in the first place. It is because we realized we were not perfect but actually pretty rotten that we were open to Jesus and the need for a Savior.
Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.
So why are we putting on airs, especially at church? Church is like a hospital, and everyone is sick with one disease or another. Yet we walk around like it’s social hour and no one wants to admit they need help. If you ask me, that is the sickest disease of all. If we all stopped pretending to be great and started living the truth out in front of one another, we would open up a space not only for community to grow within the church, but outside as well. All of the broken people in the world who don’t want to go to church because they don’t fit in with the perfect people club, will finally stop feeling not good enough and start seeing that they are just right after all.
God has a much bigger plan for the church, but it is people like you and me, people who understand the rejection and not fitting in that are going to help make that change. God uses all things for are good, especially the bad things. He loves us to much to let us stay stuck in it, but instead wants to show us how He can redeem it. We have to be willing to walk in the pain with Jesus, and let Him heal us first though. Once we are willing to do that, we can see the immense blessings that will come from it. Those blessings are going to spill out into every part of our lives, blessing many others in the process. If you are going through it, just know it is for a purpose greater than what you can see at this time. Open yourself up to God’s love and let it pour out into your life, bringing healing. It is a painful process, but you will be rewarded in the end. Imagine what healing you can bring to the church, and others going through similar circumstances, by walking in it.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:17-18