What You Should Know About Rejection

by | Mar 19, 2014 | Lent, Writing


I did something on Sabbath this week that I usually don’t allow myself. I looked at my emails. I normally take a once-a-week Sabbath from the internet but that flashing green light on my phone was wooing me to open and take a peek.

And truthfully, I was receiving comments on a blog post that were making my heart swoon. When someone writes to tell you that they are in the midst of a vigil awaiting the death of a loved one and your words were a source of encouragement, well, that is a gift a writer cannot assign value.

But in the midst of the kind generosity from several, rejection slipped in awaiting my click. The absolute worst email I’ve received from someone directed toward my writing. Editors will affirm I like constructive criticism and enjoy the editing process because it makes me a better writer. And I have yet to find a downside to better. You?

But this wasn’t that kind of criticism, it was personal.

Reading aloud from my warm spot in bed while H was nearby in the next room, I couldn’t finish for the emotion that swelled up in my throat. I can’t comprehend why people make conscience decisions to compose snarky personal criticism toward a stranger. Perhaps it’s easier to be mean spirited when detached emotionally from people. Ya think?

As a blogger, I know I’m fortunate when it comes to receiving callous narcissistic feedback. I have friends with large platforms who testify about careless words hurled like flying daggers for sport on a regular basis. Can I tell you how much this grieves me?

H told me to delete the email from my phone. When I didn’t to it immediately, he took the phone out of my hands and did it himself. “You don’t need to read that again, period,” he insisted.


Later that morning, while reading the first few verses from Luke 8, something stood out to me that I normally would’ve passed over. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

It was the part about Joanna that snagged my curiosity. She was married to Chuza, the steward of domestic affairs for Herod Antipas, the same Herod responsible for the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. She was travelling with Jesus and the disciples, supporting him through her wealth.

It seems Jesus often picks the most unlikely people to advance the Kingdom. Unlikely people like us.

As leaders, we cannot handpick our followers. It is the Holy Spirit that woos people toward the message we are called to share from the lens of our experience and unique makeup. We are not called for applause from the masses but to steward the message of Christ. He is in charge of outcomes, not us.

Jesus says if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (9:23)

Sometimes that means rejection by the very people we expect to embrace us. (9:5) Even Jesus was rejected by those most likely to follow Him.(9:22)

Now when people ask me, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I respond with the same answer. We are all spiritually bankrupt in need of a Savior. Goodness isn’t a measure of worth.

And I won’t be reading emails on Sabbath this week, in case you were wondering.

300x250-Lent-Ad-150x150If you are taking the 40 Day #LentChallenge with us, how is the book of Luke speaking to you? Join us for more conversation on our Facebook page, Redemptions Beauty Book Club.




Linking with Jennifer, Emily, Holley and Lyli.


Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Kelly Greer

    I haven’t received these criticisms so much from strangers as I have from those closest to me. Very hard to take. But like you share, even Jesus was rejected, and worse. Shelly, when you speak truth it is sure to offend, even the “best” of us. Hugs to you.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m sorry to hear that Kelly, that is awful, much worse from those who are close to us than strangers. Hugging you back.

      • Kelly Greer

        Yes, but Shelly, it has all worked together for good. God is at work in it all. So even the criticism has caused me to pause and reflect, drawing nearer to God and even finding what it is about me that needed refining. I failed to say that it wasn’t criticism about my writing, but rather, my behavior.

  2. Kris Camealy

    Such wisdom here, Shelly. I’m sorry someone took a stab at you, but thankful for how God uses these things to teach us about what it is to live like Christ. Praying for your heart!! Love you!

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s always good to remember where my identity lies Kris. Hopefully my experience will be a place of solace for someone.

  3. TeriLynneU

    Oh Shelly! I am so sorry you received ugly words. But what a great man who seeks to protect your heart … I know you are thankful for your husband. I had a few mean-spirited emails in February when I wrote on marriage. It’s hard NOT to think about those criticisms, even when we know they are intended to be hurtful not helpful.

    Also, I loved your insight about Joanna. Such truth in these words:

    “As leaders, we cannot handpick our followers. It is the Holy Spirit that woos people toward the message we are called to share from the lens of our experience and unique makeup. We are not called for applause from the masses but to steward the message of Christ. He is in charge of outcomes, not us.”

    I look forward to meeting you face-to-face in a couple of weeks!


    • Shelly Miller

      I know TeriLynne, can’t wait to meet you too!
      I think those of us who put ourselves out there vulnerably in what we write are going to get response from those broken in the wrong places. Brokenness without redemption leads to bitter, angry, resentful hearts. It’s just not pretty, is it?

  4. Sharon O

    I am so glad H took the initiative to delete your words for you so you didn’t have to read and re-read the negative remarks. He was looking out for your best interest and your heart. Wonderful example of encouragement. You are a gifted writer you don’t need to hear anything that would ’cause’ harm to you. DELETE is power. next time…if there is a next time immediately DELETE it.

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s nice having you in my corner Sharon, thank you. I really didn’t write this for sympathy, but I’m grateful for the way God is showing me how loved I truly am.

  5. Kathy Schwanke

    Bravo! You landed well. Love that H took over for you. 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      I know Kathy, he is good at saving me.

  6. bluecottonmemory

    It’s hard, Shelly, when people don’t play fair in “discussions” – which includes comments. I had a situation earlier in my blogging where my husband made the same decision. Faith seeds, though, could have been planted unaware. I think you exhibited grace and courage. Don’t let your voice be diminished!!!

    • Shelly Miller

      I think it’s good to evaluate what is being said, take away what is helpful and true and discard the rest. It’s a learning process, yes?

  7. Jennifer Camp

    Shelly, I am so sorry this happened. I take such things to heart–so soon–and I am not good at remembering right away that God’s words to me matter most. I appreciate your sharing–and love your husband’s warrior-heart for you.

    • Shelly Miller

      I was surprised by my immediate response actually Jennifer, to be emotional. I think I was taken off guard, not used to that. I think that is good actually.

  8. Quigg Lawrence

    Hi Shelly. Welcome to the public arena, huh?. i have gotten some humdingers in 30 years as a pastor. a handful were so vicious and ugly I was just speechless. H is right, if they are just mean, or anonymous, delete them. if they are hard to hear but have some truth in them, eat the fish and spit out the bones. There are a lot of broken, angry people who take cheap shots. fortunately there are many more good hearted folks

    • Shelly Miller

      I know, H has had the same Quigg, more than I know about I’m sure. You are so kind to comment and offer encouragement, thank you. Yes, I’m learning to discern what to keep and what to discard, for sure. And I know this won’t be the only or last time I experience this too.

  9. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    “We are not called for applause from the masses but to steward the message of Christ. He is in charge of outcomes, not us.”

    If we really believe that, we can hit ‘send’, trusting that the message we’ve heard in our hearts is the message we are supposed to share.

    Truly a {sometimes hard} lesson we have to learn as writers. And don’t you let those snarky remarks give you pause or make you hesitate in your message from here on out! Sounds like H will help you with that 😉

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Caryn, you are so sweet. I find solace in the myriads of authors who’ve pressed on with their art despite continual rejection. They give me hope.

  10. Mary Gemmill

    Oh Shelly- my heart hurt reading this- I am happy H is such a wise and caring husband! It must be hard to be bullet-proof and invincible when some take it into their heads to write like this- but all I can say is that they are the poorer for indulging in such cruel criticism- our words are meant to build up, edify and encourage ! [ LIKE YOURS !!!!}
    Prayers and love, Mary.
    p.s wonder if you got the WORD I sent to your email add with H ?

    • Shelly Miller

      I did get it. I emailed you back. Did you get my response? It was a confirmation. Thank you for your kindness Mary, you are a gift.

      • Mary Gemmill

        No- I didn’t get the reply- but please don’t worry- you’re off on your trip and will be covered in prayer.

  11. ThandiweW

    I am sorry for the comment. Mean people stink. I am so impressed that you moved through hurt to Grace-impressed but not hurt. That is the Shelly I know. Shine on, Sabbath sister. I have learned so much by knowing you through your words, To God Be the Glory.
    Peace and good to you in Jesus’ name,

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, we’ll shine together brightly Chelle. Thank you friend.

  12. Glenda Childers

    It is one of the things I dislike about the internet. (And there are many things I like.) Sorry.


    • Shelly Miller

      I’ve been fortunate that the scale weighs most heavily on the good things Glenda. I’m thankful.

  13. Natalie

    I love that your husband acted to protect and encourage your heart. What a wise man. James writes about the power of the tongue and calls it a dangerous fire. In our modern world, fingers on keyboards serve as proxy for our tongue and can so easily get us into, I think, even more trouble than the spoken word. We are called to steward the message, thanks for stewarding it in your own way. It speaks.

    • Shelly Miller

      Love that thought Natalie, about our keyboards being proxy for the tongue. Wise words my friend.

  14. Jen Ferguson

    I love how you reframe your rejection through the lens of Christ. Yes, even He — Mr. Perfect was rejected and subject to words and labels not designed to fit Him. May we be moved to cover in prayer those people who are moved to cut down, for there is enough grace for everyone to partake.

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s hard to pray for those who are mean Jen, but I’ve done it knowing it matters . . . to both of us.

  15. Kristin_theschellcafe

    You shepherd your flock well, my friend. Sadly learning to tune out the haters is part of the privilege of carrying the staff. (As if stinky sheep weren’t enough!) Love you and hug that husband H of yours for loving you so, so well. Also, I’m fascinated by the Joanna info. Don’t you love it when God reveals new insight into his word? Thanks for sharing, I’m just sorry the cost was you receiving hate mail. xo

    • Shelly Miller

      Love seeing you here Kristin, you’ve been on my heart this week. Missing you.
      I’ve found new insights in the NT since reading it through Lent, its been a great, inspiring discipline. That little tidbit on Joanna was fun to research.

  16. Christy Willard

    Those negative words, if we give them the power, can undo all the truth we know about ourselves. Encouraged by your perspective and this reminder: “We are not called for applause from the masses but to steward the message of Christ. He is in charge of outcomes, not us.” I am consistently encouraged by your writing, Shelly!

    Christy @ A Heartening Life

    • Shelly Miller

      Exactly! I think that is why H pulled the phone out of my hands Christy, he knows me the best.

  17. ro elliott

    We do live in a broken world…and broken people hurt others… Many many years ago a young girl that I was helping called me up and just lit into me…by the time I got off the phone I was raw and bleeding… I was hurt and mad and my hubby encouraged me to take it up with God…it was a great experience for me…I started crying tears of self pity… Than He gave me courage to ask if any of what she said was true …it was amazing….the spirit divided for me…and out of the long list…God said all is a lie…but this one thing is true…then my tears turned from self pity to repentance. This was such a valuable lesson for me…I learned I could trust His Spirit to teach me…to divide for me…to speak truth in the midst of lies…and since then criticism doesn’t have such power over me. Truly what the enemy means for harm God turns for God…He is the great redeemer….I pray for healing and redeeming for you!

    • Shelly Miller

      Discernment is such a gift. One I no longer take for granted but ask for repeatedly. I think there is much to learn in the painful places where our ego is smashed and we surrender the brokenness to Christ.

  18. DeanneMoore

    I can take an abundance of compliments, and then consider if they are valid, not receive them with the grace they were given. I get one criticism and it will go all over me. I remember when Ann V got slammed for the last chapter of One Thousand Gifts. It was so ugly. The haters were people who probably stand theologically “with Anne” but their hearts were not like the heart of the woman who wrote that incredible book and how God used the giving of thanks to transform her walk with him. Reading the gospels this week reminded of me how fickle people are concerning others…concerning Jesus. What you are doing–“stewarding the message” God has given you reflects in your life our Savior’s calling as the God man upon this earth. It is also what the disciples would do, “steward the message,” when they were commissioned to take the gospel of the kingdom to the world. So thankful to come alongside you with all these others to thank God for you and the ministry he has given you that blesses so many day after day, week after week.

    • Shelly Miller

      You’ve been on my heart this week Dea, missing you and know you are where you are supposed to be. I noticed the same thing in the scriptures regarding the fickle behavior of people. I thought, not much has changed has it?

  19. Alyssa Santos

    I got brave enough to sign up for a memoir course online last year. We had a great instructor and a near-instant honest and vulnerable group — it was great. One of our responsibilities was to peer-edit (but mostly just review) each other’s weekly pieces. One of the students ripped me a new one, honestly, I had no idea why. He wrote big, full paragraphs of criticism for everyone in the class to see and used words most had to look up in the dictionary in order to describe my pathetic attempt at writing. Honestly, it was enough to make me quit, lose the tuition and never look back. My husband, like yours, listened lovingly, though bewildered and said, “Why would you weigh his criticism more heavily than anyone else’s? If everyone else said that piece had them breathless and in tears, write more for THEM – they are your readers.” Like you, I love a good critique; I want to improve as a communicator. But I can get derailed by the rejection, I think because they echo my own self-doubts. Time away from my awful morning (which was a Sunday, too! Right before church!) has given me greater perspective and grace to more accurately view the criticism and my writing, and motivation to keep at this writing gig.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh wow, that is really hard Alyssa, I can’t imagine. Yikes. I’m proud of you for staying the course, it says a lot about you actually. And you are a beautiful writer, truly. I hope you know that.

  20. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Shelly, your post is a (little) personal, in that my real name is Joanna. The part she played in the Gospel story seems small, but it is important to me to know that God mentioned her at all–a believer in an unbelieving household who stood up for Christ. My mother passed away before I could ever ask her why she named me that–then Jesus showed me that He was the one who gave me my name.
    I’m not sure what planet anyone could be on to take offense at your writing….probably Sad, Hurt Planet. You know how much your words have ministered to me over and over again. Thank you for continuing to hold out the Bread of Life.

    • Shelly Miller

      What a fun tidbit to learn about you Jody, that your name is actually Joanna. You know, the Bible alludes that Jesus must’ve healed her of something terrible and she was deeply grateful for the newfound freedom. There is so much to love about this one small sentence in Luke.

  21. Beth

    I am so sorry this happened to you. It seems impossible to imagine someone taking offense to your writing. I for one adore you. You share your heart here just as beautifully as you always do. And that husband of yours…sounds amazing. Love that he knew to delete the email for you. That just touched my heart. And this is something I know I need to remember –> “We are all spiritually bankrupt in need of a Savior. Goodness isn’t a measure of worth.”
    I think I will be joining you this Sunday on disconnecting from the internet! Other than the Sunday post I’m committed to posting for OTCG. 🙂
    Much love to you, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      Lovely to have you joining us Beth, I’m so honored. And thank you for the kind encouragement, I appreciate it greatly.

  22. Kimberly Sullivan

    I can’t imagine anyone being ugly to someone as full of grace as you are…It is wonderful to read your words again, even though I felt a little defensive for you! ((hugs))

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, what a treat to see you here Kim. Honestly, you were one of the first to champion my writing and here you are, doing it again. You bless me. Hope you are doing well.

  23. Kendra Roehl

    Oh my, how I can relate to this! Thank you for your wise insight, this blessed me today and one I’m sure to read again as rejection will surely come again from time to time. Thank you!

    • Shelly Miller

      Rejection is sure to find each of us Kendra, we need each other, yes?

  24. soulstops

    I am so sorry that someone was so mean to beautiful kind you…Yay for H deleting the email…wise words, my friend re: rejection…Thank you 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks sweet Dolly, appreciate your empathy.

  25. Jerri Miller

    Your words are so true: “We are not called for applause from the masses but to steward the message of Christ. He is in charge of outcomes, not us.”

    I will try to remember that the next time rejection rears its ugly head!

    • Shelly Miller

      I need to remind myself too Jerri, thank for being here.

  26. Nancy Ruegg

    How frustrating that a blog reader would: 1) Ignore your heart and soul. You obviously have a heart after God. That person was looking for a speck–around the log in his/her eye. 2) Consider biting criticism appropriate. Where is the gentleness of the Spirit in that?

    To be honest, I haven’t read all fifty of the comments below. My guess is, every one is positive and uplifting, because you have oodles of readers who love you! Take THESE to heart; not the one that derides.

    • Shelly Miller

      I feel blessed when I read these comments Nancy, I honestly didn’t expect this.

  27. June

    Good for H! He’s right, you don’t need to read that email a second time. What they wrote was all about them, not about you. Don’t let the enemy tell you any different! Honestly, the best thing you can do… is pray for her {wink}

    • Shelly Miller

      Or him. *wink* Thanks June.

  28. Kim Hyland

    Shelley, I had a similar situation a few weeks ago. It didn’t have to do with my writing. The similarity is that I was doing a good and hard thing and was totally misunderstood and judged. All my efforts to make the situation better only made it worse, and I had to walk away with things unresolved.

    This scripture and Christ’s example were a great comfort and affirmation to me me, especially the part about Jesus “entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.” God sees and knows. That’s enough.

    “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” ~1 Peter 2:19-24

Pin It on Pinterest