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Rejection in Friendship

Rejection.  It’s a word none of us want to really acknowledge.  Yet, it is a word all of us know from experience.  Rejection happens in all relationships and friendship is no different.  The reality is, you don’t have to be a bad person or even a bad friend in order to encounter rejection in friendship.  It does not mean you did something terrible to deserve being rejected.  It simply means that you are human.  And rejection is inevitably a part of our collective human experience.

Isaiah 53:3 (NIV) tells us, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”  From this passage, we understand that our Lord and Savior himself experienced rejection.  This serves as a reminder to us in three ways:  


  1. We are not exempt from rejection.  In our own experiences with rejection, we actually identify with Jesus.

  1. Jesus knows what it feels like to be rejected and can identify with us because He already understands what we are trying to navigate.

  1. Jesus cares about us and wants us to process rejection in a healthy way that leads to our betterment and not bitterness.

In female friendships, we sometimes experience rejection after initiating a gesture of friendship to another woman.  If you have ever put yourself out and extended the olive branch of friendship only to feel the sting of rejection, it may have left you feeling hurt, numb, or even ashamed.  Not to mention, you may feel embarrassed or foolish because you took the chance, but friendship was not reciprocated on the other end.  When we do not process our rejection, it tends to leave us in a defensive or guarded posture at the possibility of initiating or receiving new friendships in the future.

Another dynamic to consider is when we are the ones rejecting someone else's gesture of friendship.  I know this may be hard to imagine.  Maybe you view yourself as a very receptive person who could never do such a thing.  However, if we were to conduct our self-examination a little more closely, I think we will find a time or two where we have been guilty of not reciprocating friendship - even if there were no malicious intentions - because we were just not as responsive as we could have been.  As a result, it left the other person feeling rejected by us…and maybe we never even stopped to consider the impact.

Finally, I want us to consider a third perspective:  rejection in friendship can occur in an already existing relationship.  Unlike attempting to initiate a new friendship, or being the person who rejects a new friendship offer, rejection in an already established friendship can cause a different kind of pain because of the familiarity you have with the person.  When you have built longevity, intimacy, and trust in the context of friendship only to now experience rejection, it can be devastating.  A common reason for this is due to conflict that can arise between the best of friends.  Nevertheless, it can leave you wounded and resentful if God’s healing is not received.

One of the most cunning tricks of the devil is to trap us into internalizing rejection.  When we embrace it in our heart, it informs how we filter our feelings.  When we hold on to it in our mind, it impacts our thinking.  We must learn to recognize and manage rejection before it takes over our inner self in stealth mode.  

Rejection can make you feel justified in having offense and unforgiveness toward another person.  None of these things are congruent with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and none of these can nurture flourishing friendships in our lives.

Through Christ, we have the power to acknowledge the realness of rejection while yet rejecting the bondage its web of entanglement spawns to entrap us.  If you have unresolved issues with rejection or have fresh wounds that need attention, the first thing to do is acknowledge it to God.  The second thing is to ask God for healing.  

In acknowledging your rejection, you are completely transparent with God about your feelings.  When we try to pretend as if we are not bothered, disappointed, or not hurt, it is inauthentic to God and with ourselves.  When we suppress or silence our truest thoughts and emotions to God and ourselves, it creates a barrier to honest communication and delays our complete healing.  Besides, we are only really lying to ourselves since God knows all about us anyway.

When we ask God for healing, we are choosing to align ourselves with His methods and abandon our ideas about engaging with the other person.  It is not necessary to express our dissatisfaction with the person we experienced rejection by.  What is most important is our willingness to allow God to manifest our healing however He chooses and for however long He deems.  Especially in situations when there has been an existing friendship where rejection occurred, it is easy to feel as if we have the right to make the other person aware, or even a sense of entitlement that believes that person owes us something for the wound they inflicted.  

Should the time come when God prompts us to confront the other person, we must be sure we are in agreement with the Holy Spirit.  That means the right timing to speak the right words that are inspired by the spirit of God and not our flesh.  Otherwise, if we are not healed first, we might speak out of anger from a place of our unhealed hurts, which only causes re-injury to our already existing wounds.

One sure sign we have been healed from rejection is our ability to regard the very person who injured us as our sister.  God’s healing makes us whole and gives us freedom to live in love and forgiveness toward the other person.  We can genuinely pray for them, want to see God’s best for their lives, and even rejoice with them.  These things cannot be demonstrated from a disobedient heart, but rather from a surrendered heart that chooses God’s healing over all else.

My encouragement to you in closing is to not allow rejection - from the past, present, or future - to hinder you from moving forward in flourishing friendships.  In moving forward, take a moment to evaluate your current friendship.  Confess what God reveals to you, repent if you need to, receive His healing, and follow whatever instructions He provides as the next step to take.  Praise be to our God, we do not have to be prisoners or slaves to rejection.  We do not have to live victimized from its strike, instead we can live victoriously through Jesus.


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About Patrice

Patrice Burrell Grant is called to lead others to the grace of God, rooted in the truth of scripture. Championing women to live authentically and pursue God passionately, she is a life coach, speaker, and worship leader who loves the presence of God. Her desire is to live a lifestyle anchored in spiritual disciplines while cheering on other women to do the same. As a Bible teacher and preacher, she exhorts women to remember their true identity is defined in Christ, not culture. You can connect with Patrice on her blog, Warrior Woman Blog; on social media in her Facebook community, Warrior Women; and on Facebook and Instagram.  Patrice is the author of  Warrior Slay, a devotional book on the power of worship and prayer; and Living My Best Life, a Bible study for single women. Soon to be release, her latest work, Be Still My Soul, is a devotional book about cultivating the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude through daily prayer journaling.  Visit Patrice’s website @ to connect with her and receive weekly encouragement in Christian living.


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