I hung up the phone and tears ran down my cheeks. Soon I was sobbing. The person on the other end of the phone had rejected my gift. For years I have thought of my ministry as a wrapped gift that I offer freely. She had torn aside the paper and declared my gift lacking. It hurt. I sobbed. Ministry is personal because it represents your God given skills and talents which are offered freely to others. Sadly, if you offer a gift, there is always the possibility of rejection.
So what do you do when you find yourself in your home office with tears running down your face? When you catch yourself thinking, “This is not worth it. I’ll just keep my gifts to myself?” Well, here’s what I do.
Write in your journal. Write down every word that comes to you. Pour it out. Say the things that you want to say. Get the pain on paper. If you are not a writer, draw or paint. Let your brain freely give over the pain.
Call a friend who knows you and your spiritual journey. Tell your story to a friend who will hold you in her heart and will reflect God’s love back to you. Sit with her. Let it hurt.
Walk away. Not literally . . . because few of us have the option of quitting a ministry on a Tuesday morning. But you can change the scenery. When I was new to ministry, a mentor told me, “Always spend your day off in a town nearby. Distance is the key to renewal.” So grab a Starbucks, tune up your favorite songs on your Ipod and then drive away for a while. Not only does distance help in the short term but then as the days pass, the emotional distance will heal as well. What hurts so badly in this moment can heal if cared for. Give yourself some distance.
Remember whose you are. My gift of ministry is personal because I give the best of me to it. When the gift is rejected, I forget that I am a child of God created in God’s image. I am loved not for my gifts but for being God’s child. I am loved and safe because I belong to God.
Peace. Throughout the whole process, I breathe in and out. As I fill my lungs with air, I pray, “Peace be in me.” And as I breathe out, I pray, “Peace be in the ministry.” I do this over and over until peace comes.
Each morning, I wrap up my ministry with thought, preparation and compassion. Then I offer that gift. I cry when others find it lacking. But the rejection doesn’t mean my ministry is worthless. It means the gift for that day was rejected, so I journal, call a friend, and take some time away. The next morning, I get up and wrap that gift again. I am a child of God. I belong to God. And my ministry belongs to God. At the end of the day, that is enough.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.