Have you ever been rejected by an institution, church, family, etc.? Rejection rocks us at our core and has unintended consequences for how we attack our life. It can take years for us to overcome the resulting self-doubt and shame. However despite these experiences - both real and perceived - there is hope.
While living and working as a minister in a trailer park I spent time with a woman named Tina. She and her daughter attended multiple events at various churches throughout the summer and genuinely enjoyed the programs each one had to offer. After attending one weeklong VBS the family rode the church van to attend that church one Sunday. Later that week Tina recounted her experience to me.
Tina said, "I will never go back to that church." I asked her what happened that caused her to be so upset. She stated the people judged them for the way they were dressed. Some where even so bold to tell her that they should dress nicer the next time they come. The mother exclaimed, "These are the nicest clothes we own." As I listened to her pain and shame I was in complete disbelief!
Sometimes we get our priorities jumbled and forget the true purpose of what we are doing. Rules and tradition can cause us to be stuffy and unkind to others. It is important to keep ourselves in check and continue to ask questions centering ourselves on our primary purpose. Hopefully in the answers we will find a way to truly welcome others and be a participatory part of their seeking.
Next Part of the Story
Her experience led Tina to ask me questions about our little trailer park church. She and her daughter started attending regularly, occasionally in their pajamas. After some time Tina chose to commit to a new relationship with God and was baptized in the small blowup pool in our yard.
Rejection vs Acceptance
I tell you this story because when we put expectations on others without really knowing their story we can create divisions. Loving people for who they are is what really matters. Luckily the initial rejection led this mother and her daughter to a place where they could be loved.
My church, Community of Christ, is not without its faults. Unfortunately policies and practices in our denomination have been unjust and made people feel judged, inadequate, or unwelcome. More recently Community of Christ has made great strides to become a welcoming body, to seek out and eliminate injustice, and to pursue the wholistic peace and love of Christ. This progress does not diminish any hurt you may feel, but please feel comforted that change is possible.
If you are still searching for a place to grow spiritually with others in love and acceptance I encourage you to locate a Community of Christ. Since attending someplace new can be uncomfortable I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have or connect you personally with someone in your area.
Does this story resonate with you? Have you experienced rejection from a community, church, or institution? This pain is real but I hope it does not stop you from searching further spiritually. I hope you find a community that will accept you for who you are. I invite you to share with us whether you have found that place along your faith journey or not. You are welcome and your experience is valued and appreciated.
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The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.