When You Hate Where You Live {The Grove – Authenticity}

You don’t want to admit it. You don’t even know if you can allow yourself to say it.

But you hate where you live.

It feels like a dirty word –“hate.” Certainly nothing a good Christian is allowed to feel about the place God has her.

You feel stuck.

You want something else. You don’t know what. This is your life and what else would you do?

But you also desperately want to get out of here.

You stuff it down. You get up another morning. You paste on the smile. Happy Christian. You do another day. “I’m fine, how are you?” You try to ignore it, but it leaks out in complaining negativity. You lie down at night and feel that life has drained out just a bit more.

Maybe this is just a phase, and you’ll get over it.

Maybe this is just culture shock, and it will pass.

Maybe this is just re-entry shock, and it will normalize.

Maybe this is just suffering for the Lord, and you need to be willing.

Or maybe you really do need to get out of here.

How do you know? What do you do?

You’re afraid to tell anyone, to show anyone how your no-façade-authentic-self is actually doing.

But somedays you want to so bad. You want to have a real honest, let-it-all-out talk where you hold nothing back.

That’s this sticky business with authenticity. When you get the courage to be authentic, how do you find the person with whom you can actually do it?

Wives, if you tell your husband, you see how it weighs him down. He doesn’t know how to fix it.

If you tell anyone from “home” they don’t understand.

If you tell anyone in leadership or even member care, you’re afraid they’ll judge you, maybe send you packing.

If you tell teammates, you think they’ll either one-up you with a story of hardship, or they’ll be astounded that you don’t absolutely love it here like they do.

If you find someone with a safe listening ear, you feel some relief. But eventually you’re dissatisfied again because it didn’t fix anything.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk and share with people. You should. You need to. But I do understand the hurdles and fears that stand in the way.

Can I ask you a question?

Have you ever considered that before any other human, you first need to be authentic with yourself and with God?

Have you had that real honest, let-it-all-out, hold-nothing-back talk with… God?

I know you ask him for help, for guidance, for peace and joy.

But have you ever told him how you hate it? And why?

In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero says,

“We feel defective because we ought not to be feeling the ‘wrong’ things. We then lie to ourselves, sometimes convincing ourselves that we aren’t feeling anything because we don’t think we should be feeling it. We shut down our humanity.” P. 71

He goes on to say,

“Allow yourself to experience the full weight of your feelings. Allow them without censoring them. Then you can reflect and thoughtfully decide what to do with them. Trust God to come to you through them. This is the first step in the hard work of discipleship.” P. 73

Do you allow yourself to do that? To feel the full weight of your uncensored feelings? Do you bring them raw and unfiltered before God as David did in Psalms?

In her amazing new podcast, Emily Thomas interviewed Breena Holt about a season of intense grief and loss (and is that not what culture or re-entry shock is about – grief and loss?). Emily asked Breena what her advice was for people in thick of that season. Her response?

“There are different stages throughout (grief), I was one person at one point and one person at another point in my faith. Be true to where you are and meet God where you are, because he can handle it. Go to him as you are. Don’t pretend to be anything else. In the end God is my rescuer. He is my comfort. He is the one who brings healing. No one else can bring you that. No human words can fix it. God gets so deep in your soul, only his words can feed you.”

You may hate where you live. You may be struggling with fierce negative emotion in another area.  Whatever it is, can I nudge you right now to go be with God? Go take your authentic self before him and dump your heart out. And then? Just wait. Wait and listen. I think the Spirit of God wants to speak to our hearts if we’re willing to be real and then quiet.

Are you a stuffer of negative emotion?  Are you hating where you live or wrestling with other “hate” feelings?       

What is the Spirit saying to your authentic self?  


This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions


  1. Emily Smith October 15, 2015

    “Have you ever considered that before any other human, you first need to be authentic with yourself and with God?”

    This quote was where the tears started. Tears of hope…recognizing how far God has brought me already.

    I had waited so long to have this conversation. The conversation I finally had with God and myself was exhausting and painful, though not nearly as exhausting or painful as holding it all in. It was also my turning point.

    It didn’t change my situation. Instead, I changed. It was a slow and subtle change at first. It has been so, so worth it. It gave me the space to let me begin to be authentic with others.


    1. Danielle Wheeler October 15, 2015

      “exhausting and painful, though not nearly as exhausting or painful as holding it all in.” This is SO true.

      Rejoicing with you, Emily, in your new hope.  It is beautiful to look back and see the change he has woven.  Sometimes in the slowness and subtly we miss the big change that is happening.

    2. Michele Womble October 16, 2015

      Thanks for sharing, Emily.  I quoted you several times in my comment below.  🙂  I appreciate that you said it didn’t change the situation.  So often I think that’s what we’re hoping for (or what I’m hoping for, anyway) – that I’ll tell God about it and then He’ll fix it.  What He fixes is me.

      But I don’t give Him room to do that until I’m real with Him about how I’m feeling.

  2. Valerie October 15, 2015

    Heard a fabulous quote by Larry Crabb this week: “I’ll tell anything to someone who delights in me.” I so often internalize my emotions/frustrations or I take it out on other people when really I should be taking it straight to God. He delights in me wholeheartedly and that should motivate me to run to him and tell him everything. I can be the most authentic in prayer.

    A very wise teenager pointed out the opposite of this quote, “I’ll say anything to have someone delight in me.” How often we wear that facade and aren’t authentic because we want to gain other’s delight.

    1. Danielle Wheeler October 15, 2015

      Isn’t it so freeing to know you can be your most authentic self in prayer?

      And those two quotes… wow, that’ll preach.

    2. Michele Womble October 16, 2015

      Love those quotes!  Thanks for sharing them, Valerie! Committing them to memory…

  3. Michele Womble October 16, 2015

    “Do you allow yourself to do that? To feel the full weight of your uncensored feelings? Do you bring them raw and unfiltered before God as David did in Psalms?”

    It’s funny (ironic) that I  know this so well (from experience) and yet I still sometimes avoid doing it.  Maybe because I know it’s going to be “exhausting and painful” as Emily said.  Maybe because I know I’m going to cry and I just don’t feel like feeling anything but numb.  Maybe because I feel like I don’t have time for the process, room for the pain.

    But it’s always the turning point. (as Emily again.)

    1. Danielle Wheeler October 16, 2015

      “I feel like I don’t have time for the process, room for the pain.”  I think THIS is why so many of us don’t deal with authenticity.  But yeah, just as Emily said, the long-term alternative is more consuming and painful.

  4. Erika October 16, 2015

    YES! Oh my Gosh! Other people feel this way!? Our first term was so so hard. In so many ways, I feel destroyed, like being an overseas worker has sucked me soul and simultaneously destroyed all outlets for soul-reconstruction. No community. No meaningful work. Just dishes and hot-ness and kids and loneliness and churchlessness… Now that we are on home assignment, I feel so weak, but who could I possibly talk to. Ironically, I don’t want to go back, but I also don’t want to be truly honest with people who will say “well, don’t go back!” or people who say “well, you’re fine” or even people who will give me a blank stare. And so I’ve tried to keep it pent up. But I’m honest. And unwillingly the truth seeps out. I am miserable. I am lost. I have never felt more distant from God, who demanded it all and took it all… But He didn’t really… It recently occurred to me, that I can glorify God by telling my story. By telling my surrendered story. Not to hurt people, not for pity or money or attention… but hopefully in the telling I find healing and God finds glory. Maybe in our surrendered story He is more glorified than in our pasted on “fine-ness”. Maybe when He knows first hand how invisible and useless and rejected and… small I am in my own life, maybe He, who is not ashamed of our failures, can turn it into HIS story. Maybe my smallness, my weakness, (and hopefully my healing and restoration) will bring HIS story bigness. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense. But I ‘ve been way too ashamed to post any comments on here and feeling very brave right at this moment. 😉

    1. Emily Smith October 16, 2015

      “I can glorify God by telling my story”

      Yes, this makes sense. And yes it is possible. And you can find healing. It may take a while. You may have setbacks. That is okay.

      Telling your story is healing. The beautiful part is as you heal your story will also change. It will cease to be a story of pain. It will no longer be a story about you. It will be a story of hope, because you will have have healed and become stronger than before. You will also be filled with grace and humility for others, because you have been there.

      I pray you can find people who will listen to you, cry with you, and not tell you what to do. If you choose to not return to the field…that will take great courage. If you choose to go back…that will take great courage. It is not about what choice is better, but rather about making the choice to keep fighting for authenticity. To keep fighting for revealing Christ to those around you.

      You are brave. So, so brave. Speaking up is hard, but it does get easier. Keep fighting. Don’t give up. You have a story that will be used as a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness. Trust Him with that story.


    2. Devi October 16, 2015

      I just wanted to comment, Erika, I hope you don’t mind. You are so brave for writing down your real thoughts and feelings, and I’m praying right now that you will find a few people or maybe even just one, who is able to bear this burden with you, someone with whom you can be brutally honest and who will receive all your pain and honesty as a GIFT because it is a gift. Truth is a gift, and accepting the truth, seeing the truth, it sets us free.

    3. Lindsey October 16, 2015

      Oh, Erika- I could have totally written your post almost word for word! We just finished the first half of our first term and it was SO hard. For all the exact reasons you mention (and for me, add in 2 miscarriages to the pile). We are home as well for a few months and I cannot let myself think about heading back right now. I don’t want to go. I am praying hard that God changes my heart-but I have been praying that for 2 years now. You are so brave to tell your story. I am not there yet; only a few really close friends here know my true feelings right now. I also rarely post here for the exact same reason. Just know that you are not alone. I will be praying for both of us to allow God to begin healing our very wounded souls.

      1. Emily Smith October 16, 2015

        Lindsey – don’t discount your bravery. You may think you are not ready to share, but you just started to open up a little bit. Sometimes the first steps feel really small. They are enough. That is how it starts.

        My life is a testament that there is hope. So much hope. Six months ago words that characterized my life…dark, anxiety, alone, guilt, fear, shame, tired, worn out.

        Last week I laughed out of pure joy for the first time in over a year.

        The beginning of change for me looked like sleeping about 14 hours a day for several weeks, eating 3 or more meals a day, spending time in sunshine, and showering and looking presentable for the hours I was up…and a lot of crying. I know that it won’t be the same for everyone (nor can or should most people sleep that much). I just want you to realize you do not have to have the strength of superwoman. Like I said in an earlier comment being honest with God and yourself is exhausting and painful. Allow yourself that time and space to strengthen your ability to process certain emotions.

        I’m going to link up an earlier blog post that I wrote (actually for the prompt of sanity). It is one of the first times I opened up and shared a little more of my story. Raw, painful, and so healing. It seems fitting for this week as well.

        I am praying you are able to find healing and release. My heart aches for you. I so wish I could give you a hug right now.

        1. Danielle Wheeler October 17, 2015

          Emily, I tried to comment on your “Dear Woman Who Hates Where She Is” post, but it said that the comment could not be posted. So here it is:

          Emily, it is such a joy to have been able to “watch” the transformation that the Father has brought about in you.  Continue to sing that testimony, girl.

          1. Emily Smith October 17, 2015

            That has happened before…seemingly at random. I’m still figuring that out.

            Thank you for commenting here and for your words of encouragement. The best part is recognizing the transformation isn’t done. It is amazing to me I am at a point where others can see this difference.

    4. Julie October 16, 2015

      Wow.  I think this was just the right time for me to read this.  And I too have never commented or replied on a post.  If I’m honest, I was afraid that a teammate would read my thoughts and judge me.  We are 2 1/2 years into our 5 year commitment.  I used to ask people when I would turn the corner.  Shouldn’t I have turned the corner by now?  Shouldn’t I, by now, not wake up in the morning hating my life?  I look at my teammates who love it here and wonder what is wrong.  This is home for them.  It just isn’t for me.  I can’t seem to turn the corner.  On culture shock/stress, on language, and on missing my children and grandchildren.  Last year I had to miss my daughter’s wedding.  There were reasons, but my heart doesn’t care.  Recently my youngest son and his wife had a miscarriage.  The grief of this loss, and not being able to be there to comfort them, has just piled on top of the other grief.  I feel like I am so weighed down that I can’t breathe.  And I feel stuck.  Like I can’t stay and I can’t go home.  Who will understand my feelings?  And then there is this: “Go take your authentic self before him and dump your heart out. And then? Just wait. Wait and listen. I think the Spirit of God wants to speak to our hearts if we’re willing to be real and then quiet.”  We are taking a mini Sabbatical next week.  We plan to spend the time crying out to God and sharing our real junk, and praying to hear His response and receive His healing.  Thank you for this encouragement that I will carry with me into this time with Him.

      1. Michele Womble October 17, 2015

        Oh, Julie, I felt so sad for you as read this.  So hard to miss your daughter’s wedding, to not be there for your son and his wife in their grief.  Such a hard place to be.  I read your words “I can’t stay and I can’t go home” and I started wondering…

        I wonder if Jesus felt like this.  “I can’t stay and I can’t go home.”  Not in the same way we feel it – but surely there were times when it grieved him to have to be here in our fallen mess, living among the sin that was so foreign to him:  “I can’t stay”  – but he couldn’t go home because he knew he had a purpose and he had to fulfill it (so that we can go home).

        I wonder if HE loved the host culture?  There was surely much of it he could not love.

        I wonder if Jesus missed some siblings’ weddings?  Funerals of loved ones? I wonder what He thought and felt about it if He did? (although siblings is not quite the same as your children).

        The pain is real.  The pain of all the joys and sorrow in your children’s lives that you are missing.  It’s real.

        And God sees and knows what you’re sacrificing.

        Because it IS a sacrifice.

        As far as feeling at home in your host culture…

        I wonder if it’s ok if you DON’T “turn the corner” as far as loving your host culture? We’re all different.  I mean, obviously it would be easier for you if you did, but you’re not in your host culture because you thought it would be a great place to be, not because it’s home for you or ever will be.  It would be cool if you felt at home there, but… You’re there because God called and because people are lost.

        We want to learn to love our host cultures.  But maybe it’s enough if we learn to love and care about the people in our host cultures.  Or a few people there.  Or maybe sometimes it’s enough if we’re just obedient.

        I don’t know if it helps you or not to be free to say ” I don’t really like it here, but that’s not why I’m here.”  But I just think that it’s too much pressure on an already hard situation to insist that you also love the place and be able to call it home.

        We don’t go overseas and learn foreign languages and endure separation from loved ones because we thought it would be a cool thing to do.  We go because we love God.  We do it because the world has gone awry and we are willing to be part of God’s work to fix it.  The pain the cost, the sacrifice, it’s all so very, terribly real.

        I am praying for your semi-sabbatical this week, that God will give you the freedom to be authentic – real – before him and before others – and that He will touch you, and heal you, give you release and enable you to share freely (openly) what your obedience to His call has meant to you and your family – just how real and costly it has been to you.

      2. Danielle Wheeler October 17, 2015

        Oh, Julie…  Your pain is so real.  I pray that this next week would be such and intimate time with you and the Lord.  I don’t know what he has for you, but he does.  I’m wondering if it release from where you are, even for a season.  He knows.

        Jesus, meet Julie and her husband in their time with you.  Receive all their grief, all their pain.  And may their hearts receive what you have for them.

    5. Danielle Wheeler October 16, 2015

      Such a good feeling to know you’re not alone, right?!  It makes me smile big to see you share your story, Erika, to see you throw off the shame, and step out bravely like you did.  Your words make all the sense in the world.

      My favorite line is this: “Maybe He who is not ashamed of our failures, can turn it into HIS story.”  Glory, hallelujah, and amen!

  5. Devi October 16, 2015

    YES, I have so been there. Our first three years in Switzerland were brutal for me, and to everything I always said, “But this is what God wants,” I guess my idea was that struggles and hardship = the will of God. I definitely believe that God leads us into difficult seasons, to strengthen us, to test our faith and to draw us closer to him, but it’s a dysfunctional belief to assume that difficulty automatically means God is involved. It can also be a warning, maybe he wants us to get out. It did help me so much in those years to pour my heart out to God, so many deep, painful cry sessions of honesty with him.. it was so healing inspite of the pain. We’ve learned the long, hard way through this experience to pray and also trust where our hearts are leading us.. and to trust that when something has become too much, perhaps God is saying get out.

    1. Danielle Wheeler October 16, 2015

      Yes!  There is so much dysfunctional belief wrapped up in our line of work.

      “deep, painful cry sessions of honesty with him… it was so healing in spite of the pain.”  Just as Michelle said above, we avoid the pain of authenticity, but in the end that is the gateway to healing.

      So glad you shared and linked up your blog, Devi.

  6. sally dharminder October 16, 2015

    Thank you for that LOVELY write-up. I just feel like I’ve come home…

    Too often, I have felt alien because I like to talk about REAL feelings, but no other believer seems to be interested in such raw honesty. I thank God I have my husband, but we do get lonely when other friends are too busy with life to stop and hear deeper levels of openness.

    Thank you for quoting Peter Scazzero – that sounds like an awesome book. Erika – thank you for being SO honest – God will bless you with a renewed knowledge of His presence because you dared. To speak up, and call a spade a spade. My journey as a pastor’s wife came with a cost, but boy, am I glad I dared to take on the path of self-honesty. It is surely less travelled, but I have begun to find myself.

    Thank you, Danielle, and ladies, for this wonderful chance to share and be ourselves in The Grove. xoxoxo


    1. Danielle Wheeler October 16, 2015

      Well, welcome home, Sally.  So glad to have your real, honest self here with us.

      Just so you know, we’re doing Emotionally Healthy Spirituality for our weekly book club right now.  We’d love for you to join us!

  7. A October 16, 2015

    I felt like this post was written just for me. Like I was being spoken to directly because I spoke a resounding yes to the entire beginning of it. We have lived overseas for a little over a year now and I have absolutely hated most of it. I struggle with those feelings so much because all I have ever wanted to do since I was a young girl was to serve God overseas. Now I am finally doing it and all I can seem to do is complain about it.

    I have also struggled with who to tell for all those same reasons. But the one I should be going to is my Heavenly Father. Thanks Danielle for reminding me of the Truth I trust and believe in. I am looking to Him for the hope of a new and better day tomorrow and each day after. Trusting that He has my heart and will see me and my family through this trying time.

    1. Danielle Wheeler October 16, 2015

      Oh, it’s so brutal when dreams meet harsh reality, isn’t it?  So sorry to hear of the hard, hard year you’ve been through, A.  I’m asking God to meet you with his sweet presence as you look to him.

      So glad these words were meant for you.

  8. Joanna May October 16, 2015

    This is an amazing post. Thank you so much. I so identify. I too have had desperate moments, weeks and months. My turn around and healing came as I too, came to God, and opened up my heart to him (which is what I share in my link-up post). So blessed to have found this site.

    1. Danielle Wheeler October 16, 2015

      Thank you, Joanna, for sharing your story of healing.  I love seeing throughout this thread of comments how authenticity before God has been the turning point for so many.

      We’re so glad you found us!  You’re warmly welcome.  🙂

  9. Ashley R October 16, 2015

    This was just the post I needed to read this week! We just came back from a short trip to the States, and I HATE being back here. While we were in the States, my husband asked me how I was feeling about coming back. I told him I felt like I had been drowning, that someone had pulled me up out of the water, and that I was about to be shoved back under again. Take a deep breath, here we go!

    It’s funny (or not) because I am the one who had the big dream to come overseas and serve. He just fell in love with me. But after four years of lots of moves, an unexpected fourth baby, a longer than expected home assignment in the middle of that, a depressed husband for part of that, language study, homeschooling, helping four boys adjust culturally, and all of the extra stress of life, cooking, laundry, illness, pollution, and all that other stuff…well, I’m worn down and really hating this place. Now we are planning for another move, to your city, Danielle, and it’s the place I hate most in this country.

    Anyway, it’s so refreshing to have other people be honest that they feel that way, too. I’m so thankful to have more than one friend here who has felt or is feeling the same way and who is not at all freaked out by my honesty. But it is good to be reminded that sitting around and complaining isn’t really going to make this better. And going “home” won’t really solve it either. Jesus wants to meet me here. God needs me to go where these feeling will take me. I don’t think any of us can ever do what we do, and do it well, unless we deal honestly with this moment, and I think it comes to all of us at some point in our overseas life.

    1. Danielle Wheeler October 16, 2015

      Oh, Ashley… I wish I could be there for you.  From all that you’ve described, I feel the weight and ache within you.  Praying that Jesus will meet you.

      If you want to connect through email, I’d love pass on contacts for you for the big city, if you’d like.  danielle.wheeler (at) velvetashes (dot) com.


  10. Sarah October 16, 2015

    Thank you for this post!  I can really relate to it.  And, it is so so so good that you are encouraging women to be authentic in their conversations with God!  It took me way too long to finally be completely open with God about my feelings about where we lived and what we were doing (I waited about 18 months after arriving on the field, actually!).  I reached a point that I was trying to pray and literally yelled outloud to God, “I hate it here!”  Finally admitting that enabled me to finally ask God the frantic questions that were constantly running through my thoughts… which finally opened my heart to hear His answers and be comforted by Him.  Like others said, this didn’t change the circumstances that were hard/challenging, but it was a turning point for me.  My heart began to change, and, now, six years later, I can say in all honesty that I love it here.  I linked above to the first post in a four part series I wrote about this process.

  11. Danielle Wheeler October 16, 2015

    Sarah, I’m so thrilled you’ve shared this.  Thank you.  Praying that your story will be a beacon of hope for others, not that all must stay and grow to love it, but that it CAN happen.

    That authenticity before God “…finally opened my heart to hear His answers and be comforted by Him.”  THIS.  Exactly this.

    1. Sarah October 16, 2015

      Oh, yes!  Definitely the outcome of that total authenticity before God could lead to something different from staying and loving it.  And, for me, it’s a continual process of going before Him, again and again, as new questions (or the same ones all over again!) come up, because they do… so often.

  12. TGP October 18, 2015

    This post is right where I am right now.  It didn’t take me long to be real with God.  I also have a very supportive husband.  We are so new to the field (3 months) but it’s hard to see that I will feel as passionate about this work and place as I did before we left.  Like so many others that commented I, too, “wanted” this.  Dreamed of it.  The reality of my feelings is not what I expected.  I wake up to the bright African son but each day has a dark cloud over it.  Also, I want to be passionate and joy-filled in what I am doing.  That translates into the lives of my children and my entire family. You ask yourself if you were sure this was what the Father wanted or if you were chasing some dream.  We were so happy before in our work and this is just not the same.  I’m not sure why we are here right now or if it’s only for this one term but I do long to live fully where I’m at.  But at the same time scared to death to love it.  It’s very contrary feelings.  I have often asked, out loud at times, if I am the only one that has these feelings.  It’s so good to know that many of us have these hard feelings and spend days crying and questioning and wondering if this is it.

  13. the grove :: authenticity « Our Life in Austria October 24, 2015

    […] Authenticity. In my Velvet Ashes Connection Group, someone mentioned that this week’s topic scared them even more than last week’s topic of ‘warning.’ I agree somewhat. As we go through a theme word each week to consider with meaningful questions, it feels like there are layers in my life that are getting stripped away. The layers are revealing my brokenness, my need for deeper relationships, my desire for learning in and with Jesus. […]

  14. Addie August 6, 2018

    Thank you for these words!! I’ve had this page bookmarked for a difficult journey back to the field after a lovely visit back in my home country, and it’s SO comforting to read the comments and to not feel so alone. I’m starting my third year here now, and somehow this place seems to be getting more and more difficult to love, or even like. I’m terribly (and once again freshly) homesick, and in a very closed culture and community. I feel stuck, and often like being honest about that and allowing myself to feel hurt and pain and grief is disobedience to God and not the right thing to be showing as a believer. I’ve wondered where my sin is that I’m not finding peace and joy in my obedience and surrender to Him, and if I’m being unforgiving of the people/culture that sometimes hurt me as our values clash. I find relief in reading and re-reading the truth in this scenario from others who have experienced the same!

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