Rejection and Abandonment: Wounds of Soul and Spirit


Over the course of my prayer ministry, I have noticed a thing or two about rejection and abandonment. Both are immensely painful, but the struggles that surround each differ somewhat. I have noticed that while rejection is a wound in the soul, abandonment is a wound of the spirit. As I look at Jesus’ road to Calvary, I find that He had to encounter both. However, while He endured rejection with a certain amount of stoicism, abandonment caused Him to cry out. He died immediately after.

I believe it is important to make distinctions between the two in part because healing from each of them takes different approaches. Soulish wounds are common and are often in the realm of what I call experiential knowledge. We get our feelings hurt and forgiveness or repentance help to heal theabandonment pain. Sometimes facing the injuries in our soul is a necessary growth experience. Facing our fears, learning to handle anger, and controlling our responses to emotional pain are an integral part of the maturing process.

Injuries of the spirit, however, are more difficult to locate and more difficult to heal. In order to fully explore this kind of injury, the nature of the spirit must be defined. Our spirits are our life source. When we die, our spirits leave our body. When we become born again, it happens in the arena of the spirit. God unplugs from our human power source and plugs into His power. It is in our spirits that we feel God’s presence and hear His voice. Injuries to our spirits can interrupt our ability to experience God fully, though not always.


Rejection is painful, no doubt. But to some degree, it is a necessary human experience. After all, if you take a stand for anything, pushback is inevitable. When we fear rejection, we run the danger of becoming people pleasers. Learning to handle disapproval as well as learning to stick to your guns when it comes to your beliefs is to progress on the highway of adulthood.

The issue that rejection dredges up is the fear that we aren’t good enough. And honestly, sometimes we are not. I belong to a workshop that regularlyabandonment chops my writing into bits. I learn a tremendous amount from this, but it can sting, too. But more often than not, the criticism is well-directed. I know that this rejection is not personal, but that it is meant to constructively improve my writing. But in the course of my being a part of writing groups off and on for twenty years, rejection is the first hurdle a writer must face.

Not only do publishers regularly reject material for a variety of reasons, but to open yourself up to the criticism of others is to face your fear. I have turned in material that I thought was good enough. After the group has chewed it up and spit it out, I am left with the humbling notion that an MFA in Creative Writing does not exempt me from the same toils other writers face. And I am now responsible for making it better. I have seen so many good writers quit because the fear of rejection got to be too much.

Rejection is not the enemy. Critical parents, hard to please bosses, and fair-weather friends make up a good portion of our relational experiences, to name just a few. Surviving and growing from rejection, while never easy, is crucial to living out our destinies and callings.


Abandonment is more difficult to heal. Often confused with rejection, we try the same techniques we used to heal our sense of rejection, but to no avail. After all, enough experience with acceptance, some close relationships that involve deep and emotionally intimate love, and the sense of rejection often fades by itself.

Abandonment involves the refusal to see another person as a human. Emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse inflicts a sense of abandonment that brings with it a diminished will to live. My internal mantra while living with my ex-husband was I wish I was dead. I injured myself all the time. Not by self-harm, but by clumsiness. It was as if my body conspired against me. In reality, my spirit was losing the will to abandonmentlive.

I have a good friend whose mother abandoned her in a trash can as an infant. She was rescued and adopted and has been a faithful Christian her whole life. An activist in the baby box movement, Indiana now has a safe drop system for abandoned babies in large part because of her lobbying. And yet, her body betrays her on a regular basis. She suffers more injury than anyone I know and endures more pain than I can imagine. She is at war with her body and spirit.

Abuse causes spiritual harm because the message isn’t you aren’t good enough as it is in rejection, the message is you are trash. The other lie is you are utterly alone.  I recently read an article by a psychologist who questioned whether severe child abuse can ever be recovered from. He had seen very few cases where the recovery from severe abuse left the victims functional. And on a purely mental or emotional level, recovery is not completely possible. At least, it wasn’t for me.

The good news here is really the good news of the gospel. I believe Jesus, in suffering the complete abandonment of the Father on the cross, participated in the redemption of our whole selves, body, soul, and spirit. I know this because my recovery from the severe emotional abuse was not merely a soulish journey, though it was that as well. After all, PTSD is a mental and physical disorder that requires treatment. But it is Jesus as the Life in my spirit that truly resurrected my spirit from despair.

I knew a change took place because my inner mantra changed. No longer did I have the words I wish I was dead echoing in my spirit. Instead, I find my spirit singing I have a river of life flowing out of me. I wake up with that song in my head. It pops up at random times. But the very presence of that song lets me know that I no longer wrestle with the spirit of abandonment. In the very deepest parts of me, I am not alone.

If you struggle with abandonment or know someone who does, focus your prayers on the healing and resurrection of the spirit. I remember a well-meaning Christian told me that I didn’t need to struggle with self-worth anymore because I wasn’t being abused now. But our spirits live outside of time which means that time, while a great healer sometimes, can’t touch these wounds. Only our Heavenly Father, the maker of time and of our spirits, can speak to the rocks of pain in our lives and get His living water to flow forth.


I found these books so helpful in restoring my spirit. I still read them out loud regularly.

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15 Replies to “Rejection and Abandonment: Wounds of Soul and Spirit”

  1. This so beautifully written! I concur that rejection and abandonment are separate issues. You explained very well.

  2. This has made me stop and think. I wonder how we can truly heal from abandonment. When our gut instinct has been altered in self-protection, how do we re-learn what it means to trust? That might be a good topic for another blog post.

  3. Such a great distinction to make Alice! All of us face rejection but not all of us will face abandonment. It is heartbreaking when I work with children who have experienced the most heinous abuse. You’re right, time in and of itself will not heal their wounds. Nor will a new loving home. Only the healing hand of God can heal their issues and sadly that is only if they are willing to receive it.

  4. As one who naturally is a people pleaser I resonate with your words on rejection. As Paul said, we can’t walk this life while being a people pleaser or we will shrink back from standing up for the Lord. It’s never easy, but takes little steps of faith to walk forward and have an audience of One!

  5. Very touching post, Alice! All this pain is heartbreaking, that we even have to endure the pain from other humans is so hard to swallow!
    I’m so glad God is Jehovah Rapha and can totally heal us, if not during our human life, then in Heaven!

  6. I’d love to hear more about how you got yourself to the place of “I have a river of life flowing out of me”.

  7. Emily Saxe | To Unearth says: Reply

    Wow, I never really thought about the difference between these two, but you make great points! Thanks for shedding light on this topic!

  8. I am so thankful for Jesus and the living water that He gives us. I love the reminder that there is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ.

  9. “Only our Heavenly Father, the maker of time and of our spirits, can speak to the rocks of pain in our lives and get His living water to flow forth.” This is beautiful to think about. Also, I really appreciate you outlining the differences between abandonment and rejection. I’ve gone along life, confusing the two. And thank you for pointing out how to pray for someone who is dealing with true abandonment! It is extremely helpful and impactful, when we know how to pray! <3

  10. Many of your posts hits home. There is healing only in Christ , without Jesus we would definitely feel abandoned altogether in life. I love how you taught us the difference between the two as well. Makes me wanna pray a lot more for those who have been abandoned in life. Yahweh-Rapha

  11. “I have seen so many good writers quit because the fear of rejection got to be too much.”
    In many areas I tend to stay hidden, is because of this one fear. Its such a tormenting giant and we all need to take our sling shots and hit it down. Our acceptance in Christ is unquestionable and the sooner we hold onto such a revelation we will do greater works than Jesus Himself like he said….

  12. Poema, I love reading your posts! Boy, does rejection sting but it does in most cases improve us one way or another. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Such a truth filled and tender post! Praying for God to heal us from the pain of rejection or abandonment, and especially those who have experienced both! Thank you Mary! XO Blessings …

  14. Great read! Having grown up with an unhealthy relationship with my mom, and then experiencing years of domestic violence by my ex-husband, I could really relate to the things you wrote here. Thank you for your insight! What a blessing to read!

  15. I wonder if we don’t know the same people in Indiana. I was the sole person helping Amy Schlichter in 2015-2016 when we launched the Heartbeat Bill before Hoosiers for Life was formed. Anyway, I have been crushed by the abandonment of my family since I became a Christian, and at times, the pain is such that I can barely catch my breath. I’m glad I found your blog today. God bless.

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