totally sucky.

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I have found that I have been avoiding to write about our move to Colorado. The avoidance is for multiple reasons. To write is to admit  how hard it’s been and to admit that is to then make it real. If I can keep pretending that all is well then maybe, just maybe, I can convince myself that this isn’t totally sucky.

But that’s the thing. It is totally sucky.

The second reason why I haven’t written about our move to Colorado is due to the belief that if I do write about the real and the honest than I am weak. If I admit that this move wasn’t as glorious and amazing as we have made it seem, then it would show how I am not very strong or capable.

And honestly, who wants to read this crap anyways?

But writing has always been such a therapeutic outlet for me. I have always had a journal since I was little and to express my thoughts and feelings through this medium is extremely healing and life giving. So if anything, this is for me. To process. Reflect. Feel. Even the tough stuff.

In the middle of December, Lucas, my husband, was given the amazing opportunity to interview for a dream company doing a dream job. He had been unhappy with his current job and was ready for something new and different after 3 years. The process happened so quickly. He was offered the job and we knew it was the right move for us. We packed, sold our home and were on the road a month later leaving friends, community, our home and amazing little life we had built in sweet Bellingham, Washington.

We arrogantly thought… “We can do it all again… we connected with people in Bellingham so easily. We will have new friends and a new life in no time.”

But that hasn’t happened. We have been humbled and are struggling 3.5 months into this now wondering… how do we proceed?

For me, not working full-time and having no other outlets has caused a struggling to find my place here in Denver and an even deeper sense of confusion. I have never spent this much time by myself in my life (that is not an exaggeration) and I feel lost in where I am suppose to apply my gifts and talents. The options are almost endless which isn’t as helpful as you would think. I feel like a small fish in a big pond and am constantly thinking… “I could do this? Or this? Or what about that?”

And though I have moved a majority of my life with being a military brat, it doesn’t make it any easier. Sure I can rationalize my feelings and logically say, “This isn’t forever.” But my feelings of sadness and grief are still there and are still very real. I can point in my life to the multiple times I have felt these same things and the ways my life didn’t stay stagnant. But nonetheless, I still feel the pain and they are valid.

So with a lack of community, friendship and purpose, this move has just kind of sucked all around and I find myself holding back tears. Randomly the sadness will bubble up while I am walking around at Target, watching friends get a cup of coffee or just sitting on my couch. And it just sucks.

None of this reflects Denver. It’s an amazing city with so much to do and I have met so many nice ladies. I am beyond thankful for the ones that have out reached and taken us under their wings here. I am thankful for the people that text and check-in even if I don’t respond. The ways in which God is showing me He is ever present and cares about us deeply.

antonina grace

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process

Joshua Tree

Over the past so many months, I have been going through a process. The process of grieving. Thankfully, this was not a loss of a person but the loss of a significant part of my life for the past 8ish years. This process of dealing with no longer being apart of ministry had stages, like anything else….

The first stage was denial.

No, I am fine… great! Truly.

But I wasn’t fine, great or okay. I was numb. I didn’t want to feel the sadness or hurt that came along with saying, “I am not apart of this anymore.” I filled Lucas and I’s time up with friends and adventuring. Anything to just not think about the major shift I had just made in my life.

Now I know that sounds silly. It was just ministry that you VOLUNTEERED for Nina. But for me, it wasn’t… (see past post sacrifice). This numbness only lasted for a couple months until I couldn’t take it anymore.

The next stage was acknowledgement.

At this same time, I attended Collide’s event Authentes (Collide is a non-profit organization that is the bees knees – find more information by clicking here) where I came face to face with the fact that I was not being authentic or real about what was going on with me. This then started the road to counseling and digging in deep with the why. I learned quickly this is much bigger than just struggling with no longer being in ministry…

I was led to next stage of acceptance.

I think I am still in this stage of accepting my brokenness. Accepting my wrong thinking of how I love/interact with others. Accepting the work that needs to be done to be healthy in my thinking and actions. This time has been full of stillness, listening and lie seeking (there were a lot). Lies I fight on the daily…

I only have purpose or value if I am doing something. 

I am only loved when people say I am. 

Helping people aids me in earning their love.

…only to name a few.

Maybe you find yourself fighting some lies? A book that has helped so much in this process is “Changes that Heal” by Dr. Henry Cloud.  I love this book because it doesn’t just identify incorrect thinking but digs into why you are thinking that way.

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Let us be still.

Let us accept the brokenness.

Let us keep fighting the lies.

Let us show ourselves grace when we fail.

antonina grace

deal

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So I have had to look into others faces and disappoint them lately. I had to say, “I am sorry that I cannot be what you want me to be.” Everyone has responded differently. Some with grace and understanding. Others with frustration and confusion.

But what was my response? Guilt. Big, huge waves of it.

Guilt can be nasty and relentless. It twists and manipulates your mind to believe lie upon lie. The saddest part is that it strips away your joy and freedom. It places you in chains. And what’s even worse is… guilt makes you think you belong in those chains. That you deserve them because you failed.

“It is your fault, you failed…” “You should have been there…” “You are doing the wrong thing…”

The list goes on and on. 

I was in this unhealthy place for awhile. And instead of fighting, I just believed the lies. I believed that because I couldn’t hold up my part of the deal with the Lord, then I deserved to be unhappy. I punished myself.

But as time has gone on, my thinking has changed.  I don’t think there ever was a deal with God and I. I think I proudly made one with myself. I thought I could justify myself to Him, to the world and to me. And that failed, thankfully.

In Romans 8:32-35, Paul says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

Or my own selfish thought that I could earn right standing? Or that I could earn love through my actions and ministry? Or guilt and beating myself up over failing? The enemy made me think I could be God. That I needed to justify myself. That I could condemn myself.  I had to intercede for myself. That this was all on me.

And I failed…. guilt.

But guess what? “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

Nor antonina grace hall and her broken, proud and hurting heart, mind, body and soul can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Freedom. Weight lifted. He is God. He has justified you and me. Jesus intercedes for you and me. It is all on Him. Nothing separates us from His love. Not even us and the guilt we put on ourselves.

Sometimes I still forget. Sometimes I still believe the lies and have to fight. Sometimes I still sit and cry over my feelings of worthlessness and failure. But the Lord meets me in that.

I pray you let Him meet you there too.
antonina grace

sacrifice

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“You don’t have to sacrifice your spirit, your joy, your soul, your family, your marriage on the altar of ministry. Just because you have the capacity to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it.” – Shauna Neiquist

I first read these words and could not believe she wrote them. “But Shauna, what about the ministry?” “But Shauna, what about God’s kingdom and my purpose in that?” “But Shauna, what about me living the Christian life?” Then, it hit me. My heart, my focus, my thinking and my questioning of this statement by Shauna were very out of line. Not only out of line. They were wrong. I sat and let those words on the page sink in.

For the last 8 or so years, I have been that person. Always on the go. You need me to do something? I am there. You need to meet and talk? I’ll have some answers or just be the ear you need. I’ll help run this event or show up at your thing. Whatever the cost. But something strange happened 2 years ago. I stopped wanting to be that person. It was almost like I couldn’t. That thing inside of me that kept giving and giving no longer could give. I was dry. Empty. But the sad thing is, I kept it up. I continued to meet with friends, talk through life, plan bible studies, go to meetings, show up at all events. But inside? I was dying. And I just couldn’t admit it. I couldn’t admit that I couldn’t keep up with what everyone else could seem to do so easily.

I think the key for word in this quote from Shauna is have. This word have has many meanings. I thought I had to do things in ordered to be loved, have worth or be of value. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the Lord created ministry for this reason. But somewhere along the way I got lost. I have sacrificed my spirit, joy, soul, family and marriage for ministry. And the worst part? I thought it was okay. Even more, I thought it was right. The Christian life calls for sacrifice right? So if I am going to be a good Christian, I’ll give it all to Him.But I have found that there is a difference between giving every single piece of your life to Him in love and earning love, worth, value through performance in ministry because for some reason I can’t seem to love myself. I have learned that being a “good” Young Life leader doesn’t make me more valuable. I have learned that this identity I had found for myself really was hurting the people I love most.

All of this is connected to deeper and more complicated issues within me. But for now, the discovery that “just because I have the capacity to do something doesn’t me I HAVE to do it” was one of the most freeing things as I learned. I know I need to start in the “why.” Why do I feel the need to act and perform in such a way for others? But to simply admit, “Hey, I have a problem.” and that be okay was the air in my lungs that I needed.

antonina grace

needing

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I am needing some deep healing. Do you ever feel like your stuff is just too deep and too big to work through? I have been believing that lie for the past few months. I avoid and pretend it is not there. But it is. Just sitting. Weighing me down more and more each day until the ache is just too much to bear.

When you are apart of a ministry for 8 years and find out that all the “doing” may or may not have been hurting you, where do you start? How do you start to unpack all of that? I don’t know the answer. What I do know is, I have to do something.

I hope through some writing I can work through some of those emotions, ideals and thoughts that are so way down deep. It’s going to be hard. Scary. Frustrating. But I can’t fake it well (or even at all). And I really don’t want to be fake. I desire real, authentic life in Him.

So here we go. Thanks for coming along with me.

antonina grace