deal

img_1897

Over the last couple months, I have had to look into others faces and disappoint them. 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

IMG_0914.jpg

“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

img_0692

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

 

He will remain

For so long, I have yearned to write on here. On July 17th, my husband came home from a conference. At this conference, a discussion of a job happened with a company. In Washington state. As he laid on the couch and we discussed what this could mean, the thoughts in my head rushed. No, this can’t really happen… can it?

I am the type of person that can’t help but gush and explain all of my feelings. I am a verbal processor and the fact that I couldn’t talk about this with barely anyone… killed me. My emotions for two weeks went from beyond scared to excitement and then finally freaking out. I thought through all the different angles on what would have to happen in Lucas and I’s life. How would my relationships change? How could I leave my job, leading Young Life and this Northmont community that I had finally settled into? I would have to make new friends, get a new job, new grocery store, hairstylist… EVERYTHING. In my head I kept thinking, “Lord I am finally okay and content in life’s circumstances. Why must everything change again? What if I steep back into depression? What if? What if? What if?”

Thankfully, the beginning of August came and this company flew us out there. We were able to spend a day in Seattle and then 3 days in Bellingham, where our soon to be home would be. I love to travel. But I had never traveled with the lenses of “this will be your new life” and it was hard.

Over the past month, I have cried on many shoulders, said my final goodbyes, packed up our home in boxes and enjoyed this time of lasts. And God has been present throughout every step. I have no doubt that the Lord is calling us to Bellingham with some purpose we will soon found out. I know he will care and comfort us. Strengthen our marriage. And provide deeper intimacy with Him.

A friend shared a piece of scripture with me from Genesis that has been on my heart. In Genesis 12, you have Abram being called by the Lord into what would be the Jewish people. No law, no temple, no organization. Just God and sinful creation. It says in verse 1 “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Later on in verse 4 it says, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…” The Lord called and Abram went in faith, not knowing what would happen, leaving all he ever knew, completely trusting. I wish I could hear what Abram’s thought process was. Did he doubt in his head if this was the right decision? But this same thing happens countless times within the Bible from Moses, to David, to the disciples and Paul. God calls his people out in faith, asking them to trust Him and know He has their good in mind.

So with that I leave the hymn that so perfectly expresses my prayer.

“Be still, my soul, the Lord is on your side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to your God to order and provide; In every change, He will remain.

Be still, my soul, your God will undertake. To guide the future, as in ages past. Your hope, your mind, your will let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright.

Be still, my soul, the hour is hastening on. When we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love’s joys restored.

Be still my Soul. Praise Him.”

adulting

It has been 3 years since I have written anything. So much has happened during that time. I have found myself more than ever aching to get some words on a page. I thought, “I’ll start over with a fresh new blog.” But I wanted this to show a progression of who God is slowly growing me to be.

Since 2012 I have:

  • Graduated from the University of Dayton
  • Started teaching at Northmont High School
  • Started leading Young Life at Northmont High School
  • Met, dated and married Lucas Hall
  • And bought a house

A.K.A I became an adult. bluh.

God has been faithful and has taught me beyond what I could ever imagine through those times. Change will always bring growth and the biggest place of growth has been where I place my security. I have the problem of placing it in people.  God decided this could be no more. Therefore, this past year has been by far the most difficult in my life. It’s always painful for the Lord to rip out something that was dug down so deep. And of course I’m stubborn so that doesn’t help. But to know now that my significance and value is only from Him and He determines it. A simple truth but it’s always the simple ones we have so much trouble with.

Through the last 11 months, I have also encountered one of the driest and darkest times of my life. To not go to the Lord and have no desire to do so is a scary feeling. Your heart slowly hardens and you become someone you were never intended to be. It’s then in those times that the evil one is able to whisper lies and you eat them right up as truth.

I lost the will to fight this year and God didn’t step in for a while.

He let me go through the desert but only so I could arrive in the Promised Land. And this was not without love. But I believe God wanted to teach me something, something big and since I’m so hard-headed, it had to be a VERY large sign. And of course, this was very simple truth as well.

He must be my everything. My source for life. My first, my second, my third. I must also watch what I say to myself every minute of everyday. Not what I think of myself because “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8, ESV) And our thoughts can be so fickle and deceiving. But how I talk to myself is so important. The statements of “I am not loved, I am alone, No one cares about me, I am not good enough, I am a failure…” MUST be fought. Some say I can’t help what I think or say but that is untrue. You just do not want to change what you think and what you say. The Lord has given us the Holy Spirit to live and dwell among us.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13, ESV)

Abound in hope! Therefore, we do not need to stay in our depraved thoughts but can fight them, stop them and change them through memorizing and knowing scripture. For if you have ever experienced the amazing power and healing that comes from His Word, you know what I write to be true. If not, press into this thought and bring it before Him.  

My last thoughts:

Joel is a weird book and we don’t hear a lot of people talk about it. It’s short and nestled with the other short books at the end of the Old Testament. It easily gets lost. In Joel we have the usual case of His people losing sight of Him. Joel 1 – 2:12, there is talk of locusts, starvation, drought and then the terrible visitation. But before it gets to nasty the Lord says:

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
And rend your heart and not your garments.
Now return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness
And relenting of evil.
 Who knows whether He will not turn and relent
And leave a blessing behind Him,
Even a grain offering and a drink offering
For the Lord your God?” Joel 2:13-14, NASB

He declares to His people to come back to Him, rend (tear) their hearts open for Him because He is gracious, He is compassionate, He is slow to anger, He is abounding in loving-kindness and He is relenting of evil.

What sweetness for my soul.