How did you get to this point?

If you’re looking at your mountain and it feels impossible, I challenge you to take a walk down memory lane. How’d you get to this point? 

This morning I found myself in the book of Numbers with the Children of Israel (I often read an aspect of The Children of Israel story and think they’re so ridiculous how they carry on and doubt, etc. But then I’m shown how similar I am to them. LOL in my every day life, I too struggle with doubt and forgetfulness and much more).

So at this particular place in Numbers, Moses has just sent a spy party out to canvas the area and find their promised land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:1-3, 21-25). When the spy party returns, they tell all the people that the land flows with milk and honey, BUT there are giants living there who are much more powerful than they and there’s no way they can get the land. They even go as far as to suggest they find a leader to take them back to Egypt because they think they should have never left in the first place (Numbers 13:26-33, 14:1-4).

Y’all on the outside looking in, I am soooooooo confused as to why these fools are trying to go back! I almost threw my phone reading that – like what the heck?!

But then, I could see the correlation to that in my life. Can I be real with y’all? There are several unknowns when starting a business. Relinquish has been such a blessing and a challenge and thorn in my side. And honestly I don’t know what I’m doing a lot of the time, and I get a gnawing a feeling that maybe I should just close down shop and that “at least I can say I did it” attitude with the fake smile through the tears. But can I tell you – that mindset is such a cop out! Just like the children of Isreal, God has done numerous things to get me to where I am now. HE HAS MADE A WAY! He’s parted the Red Sea; He’s given food in barren paces; He’s led and guided me and STILL I get to a place and get presented with a few challenges and I’m ready to throw in the towel?? Like NAH bruh! Don’t just give up like that! Pause and ask “How did I get to this point!?”

Back to the story – apparently Joshua (who went out with the spy party) has some sense! He’s like (paraphrasing) “is that really all y’all saw?! God didn’t bring us to this land for us to be intimidated by the giants and go home.” And I think perhaps the dopest thing Joshua says is …do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread…”(Numbers‬ ‭14:9‬). <— Are y’all reading that?!? He said those giants are bread! That giant, that challenge, that mountain, that hurdle (whatever you are facing) should not be looked at as a wall but as a source of fuel (food) to give you energy to keep going!!!!

LORD HAVE MERCY!! I just took a lap around my townhouse y’all. I’m out of breath and don’t have anything left, so I leave you with this – as you recall how you got to this point, make sure you note every time The Lord has allocated; Every time He has made a way; Every time he has provided for you; Every time He protected you. And see there is a REASON you stand where you are today. Don’t turn back because it’s difficult or unclear. Follow through with what The Lord has started!

Love y’all! –

Lauren Relinquished ❤

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No safety in playing small

-Where’s the power in playing small?

-Small mindedness yields small returns.
Years ago, I crossed paths with someone who challenged like every ounce of me. I always looked up to her and naturally during the period she became my mentor. One of the biggest things she taught me was to stop being feeble-minded.
Definition of Feeble:
Lacking strength of character.
Definition of “Feeble”: lacking strength of character Synonyms: cowardlycravenfaint-heartedspinelessspiritlesslily-liveredchinless

So funny that to this day I still hear her voice – “Don’t be feeble-minded, Lauren.” And she had this uncanny way of saying it jokingly, but at the same time you knew she was serious.
If you play small. You’ll be small.
If you think small. You’ll be small.
And I still remember the way Marianne Williamson’s poem “Our Deepest Fear” made me feel when I first heard it.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” 
(And yes, my first time hearing this was on the movie “Coach Carter” lol (if you’ve never seen that cinematic great, put it on your to-do list).)
The point is, sometimes it’s scary to think of how powerful we are. And I think some of my issue is playing in the “safe” area because then there is no “big failure” on the books. But in actuality, I don’t feel very safe in the “small” me.
And this failure that I’m afraid of is in a lot of ways, not real. No one is truly keeping track; it’s just in my head. It’s me that feels the realest deficit when I’m not being what’s so deeply ingrained in me. Just my sick sense of needing approval from others.
But I have a hard time with that – if it’s been placed on my heart – what other approval am I needing? My heart and spirit says so, so all I need to do is actualize. Bring it to fruition. Live and breathe it.
#RELINQUISH
-Lauren

Are you all in?

I wrote a note to myself in my phone “notes” app that said “blog about what it means to be all in.

And now I’m like – uh…where do I start? *sheesh*

I write a lot of notes and unfinished thoughts on my phone with all of the intent of returning to finish them and post them like a good blogger would, but truth is, I get a great thought or pressing to really share something, and then I let time be the determining factor – like “nah, no one wants to hear that anymore.” I don’t think life topics ever expire, but sometimes it’s just a lot easier to tell yourself that. After the motivation or climactic moment has passed and your inclination to write has dissipated, just forget about it…

However, here I am and I know in this moment I can’t just “forget about it.” It wasn’t just a passing thought for me to cling to in one moment, but more of a thought that requires some greater digging because Lord knows the thought of being “all in” has plagued every aspect of my life over the last 5+ months. Whether it be my day job, RELINQUISH™ brand, friendships/relationships, whatever.

And of course, because it’s been a reoccurring theme I’m always curious to know where and how it started, etc. My guess is some of what I deemed failure in my day job, led to some mindset shifts and fears arising in other aspects of life.

The new job hasn’t been all that I thought it would and I haven’t been all that I thought I would in this new role. Talk about humbling y’all. Ya girl, thought she was great at everything and then I felt like I met my match. The crazy thing about it, I was whining about my job beating me up over the last months, but it was me beating me up. No one thing can ever overtake me. But I’ll tell you this – your mindset certainly can and will play a huge part in your success or demise. If you mindset says you can’t – then you can’t (simple as that).

So somewhere along the way I developed and fed these thoughts to myself – at least achieve average and your boss will get off your back; when I get to a certain point it’ll be smooth sailing and I’ll fly under the radar; just do it and if it doesn’t work out, you can at least say you experienced.

But there are so many things wrong with these ideas:

First, it’s easier to shoot for mediocrity because there is no perceived failure…at first. But if I have never been or seen myself as average, how in the world am I going to try and fit that mold now? That ain’t me and will never be me, and when you know you’re capable of more, you don’t settle simply because you can’t. Second, flying under the radar “feels” safer, but feeling and knowing are too different things. If I feel like this is enough, but know I’m capable of giving more than I am, then there’s no safety in that because I’m not being true to myself or my work. Third, doing something for the sake of doing it, isn’t actually doing it. If you’re going to do it, be all in.

So being all in for me right now means I have to change my attitude and my efforts. *Ugh* even just typing that makes me ache a little because I know there can’t be anymore “let’s just do a little” talk. I just keep picturing myself returning to the gym every day and doing reps with 5lb weights when I know darn well I need to be using the 50’s. If my effort isn’t matching what the task at hand is requiring then I’m not “all in.” If my mind is still questioning that which I already know the answer, I’m not “all in.”

Finding myself here is hard and I didn’t think I needed this lesson…like I’m beyond it for some reason or another, but truth is I’m not. I’m here. Working on being “all in”…yes even in the places that God has already blessed and given specifically to me. It’s hard, but having the honest conversation with self with where you stand and what you’ll do this day forward, does change things. There’s a lot of me not wanting to do stuff, but first and foremost what’s given to me is an honor, and also I’m an adult and nobody is going to do it for me. So its feast or famine, ya know? Your choice.

-Lauren

 

Show up.

I’ve never had to work so hard in my life.

I don’t mean that in a dramatic way, I just don’t think I’ve ever had to work so much.

Up to this point, it feels like a lot of things either came naturally or just weren’t that hard. Sure, there have been some difficult moments, but not like this.

I guess I’ll elaborate…I’ve never worked so hard at my romantic relationship, at work, on myself, on a passion.

Like back in school, I may get a tough assignment or shoot a tough course for the semester, but at least you can kind of gauge where you are and get a return on an investment for your actions (i.e. Study for a test à make a grade).

You ever feel like you’re just hanging in the balance? Not sure if you’re making the grade or not? Feeling like your output should look way different considering all you’ve input?? Yeah…

Nowadays, I feel like I have a lot of regrouping moments where I’m having to confirm with God a billion times about what He told me; repeat affirmation statements; cry it out; work it out; ask other people; etc.

It’s a lot at times. Through it all I don’t feel crazy tho. Although I’ve had those moments…feeling like I can’t hold it together, but not this time. However, I am constantly fighting for balance. When I feel my mental/emotional scale tipping too far in one direction, I know something’s gotta give and I make executive decisions to take “time outs.”

Those pauses consist of me relinquishing my grip on whatever has me wound tight and doing something that Lauren genuinely would enjoy, just because. Don’t laugh at me, but the other night, all I wanted to do was jog to the post office. Y’all I was so excited for a little bit of daylight and outdoor air! Never mind the fact I live in the hood where no one jogs for fun and the busy street I had to cross and the cars I had to dodge. I wanted to run and Watch the sunset AND check my mail and I did just that. But my momma would’ve beat me if she saw me because I let the street lights beat me home (please don’t tell her lol).

Anyways, I think what I’m getting at, is that I’m not used to working this hard with what seems like little return on my investments. It feels foreign to be in this place and I often fight the feelings of wanting to rewind or run to something “easier/different.” But despite those feelings I stay because with all my questioning, God gives me the same answer “show up.”

Show up to work, show up to my relationship, show up to the mirror and take hard looks at myself, just show up and He’ll work out the rest.

And that puts me at peace because I know my God is not a God of wasted time. He doesn’t waste His nor my time, so that tells me there’s something here for me. And as long as God continues to be in this place, there I’ll be also…pushing through the work, the tears, the frustration, the fatigue.

-Lauren

I was depressed.

I was depressed.

So part of relinquishing is sharing – sharing the good, bad and sad.

And  today, I cried and I needed it. I needed to remember where I came from and reflect on where I am today.

*I wrote this post 2 months ago and am just now finding the courage to share*

They started a series on depression at church today. I was a little surprised because I hadn’t realized the series I’d been attending for 5 weeks was over and to be honest it was so right on time, so I was sad we had to move on to another topic. But I felt a little something telling me to just tune in and listen even though I felt this new series on depression didn’t pertain to me. Afterall, it is a great topic to speak about (especially since depression affects the black community).

Anyways the whole time I was sitting there as if the sermon didn’t pertain to me really but as the pastor continued to tell his story I felt my heart growing closer and closer to his because I knew exactly the pain he felt; the loneliness he spoke of; the lost and trapped feeling he shared.

It’s been over 2 years and I’m just now coming to terms that I was battling depression during that time. The crazy thing is how seemingly great things seemed on the outside but how crumbly and broken and achy I was on the inside. I had no idea what I was going through, why I felt like I did.  I just knew I didn’t feel much like myself and I was sad most the time.

I did this thing called closet-crying. Literally I’d cry in my walk-in-closet at the apartment I shared with my boyfriend. Whether you cry near your clothes or in a bathroom or in your car or wherever you do it…if you’re crying/hurting in private, you too are closet-crying.

I’d talk a little to others, but speaking things out loud to people didn’t really come naturally for me. It’s not that I didn’t have people, I just didn’t know who to talk to or what to tell them because I was having a hard time understanding for my darn self what in the world was going on. So I usually just remained quiet and stayed busy with all my activities but my energy to do those things changed a bit. I was always tired (fatigued would probably be a better word). I’d set alarms to get up but would sleep so hard I’d miss them. Probably because I was wrestling so hard mentally that I wore myself out which resulted in me having less and less…less to give to the day, to others, to myself, to work…etc.

I think my relationships is where I felt it the most..especially my boyfriend. Poor thing. I’m embarrassed to think about how many times he came to me addressing issues and needing feedback and how unable I was to give him anything except some tears and an “I don’t know. I’ll work on it” (which I almost never did). There were also times I’d go to places where I knew almost everyone but I’d walk in and feel like everyone was a stranger and they weren’t my friends. I specifically remember a campus event where I walked past tables full of my Sorors, mentees, classmates, friends, advisors, etc and couldn’t even bring myself to say “hi” because I was convinced that no one was nor wanted to be my friend. I acted out of character ALOT and would have out of body experiences where I’d see myself and know it wasn’t me, but couldn’t stop myself from blocking others off or throwing a temper tantrum over something trivial.

I didn’t feel like much of a friend to anyone…including myself.

It was all very strange for me. I didn’t seek out professional help because I didn’t actually know I needed help. But there was this one day in class when I couldn’t focus on anything they were talking about (this was common) and under the table I managed to type in “Why are people jealous?” in google.

Jealousy was one of my symptoms that I felt was really different for me and worse than it had ever been. So this probably marked the start of my “searching” period where I was tired of being lost and was thinking it’d be better to be found.

Slowly but surely, reading some of those googled topics and the psychology articles I found helped me to ask questions of myself and realize I wanted to find the root of where all of my symptoms were coming from.

I still never thought to speak to a professional at this point and I’m not really sure why – probably because I was independent and didn’t elicit help often. Probably because I was ignorant and still didn’t think it was necessary. Shoot…I really didn’t know any better.

Long story short I continued to deal on my own. And after another night of finding myself sitting  on my closet floor crying and exhausted I asked for God to help me. He’s a good listener. And for about 3 months or so I felt I had this invisible  helper with me that’d whisper and nudge me toward certain things like driving in silence and just letting things be quiet and peaceful. I also got the nudge to start letting go.

The hardest was my boyfriend. We dated since freshman year in college and spoke about one day being married, but because of the state of our relationship and also my inability to participate in it full time, it left us at odds with one another. We loved each other because we were best friends but the whole situation was hurtful and hard on both of us. We were graduating in a couple months and deep down we both knew we weren’t going to make it carrying on how we were. Not to mention I had a job offer back home in Cincinnati and he didn’t want to move to Ohio for several reasons. So that left me with my job in Cincinnati and him doing his own thing elsewhere. So we parted ways after we graduated.

That time after graduation was really hard at first because I was kind of isolated. Although Louisville wasn’t far, it felt distant and in the past most the time. One of my childhood friends was back in Louisville and the other was in the Cincinnati area, but I still felt lonely at times. I had my momma too but I still wasn’t much of a talker. I tried to keep myself busy mostly to avoid alone time with myself, so I decided I wanted to move and go into an MBA program so I reached out to advisors and friends and researched schools and cities and I had this excel sheet compiled with preferences. I got as far as doing a campus tour and even having a school call me, but she asked the fateful question of “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” Although a very typical and expected question I finally faced several things at that moment –

  1. I have no idea why I’m trying to pursue an MBA
  2. I want to have a reason to move and start fresh.

(3 is the one that got me)

  1. I was AVOIDING something.  

So when I got home I went to my computer and closed all the open tabs for schools and all of my started applications; I closed essays; I closed everything and said no more running. And that’s when I started taking things one day at a time and stopped trying to plan escapes and all of my future all at once.

I’m looking back now and realizing it’s been an eventful and interesting couple of years. I’m sitting in my car in the church parking lot now and still not clear on everything, but i know I’m supposed to be writing this out right now. I’m in a different space mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  I’m so grateful for that, but I also know the journey continues.

I made it to church 45 minutes after it started and found myself sitting in that chair for a reason today. I needed to hear all of that message. I needed to remember and be reminded. And to be really honest, I tried to write down a couple thoughts and move on with the day, but a whisper told me to stay and write this out.  So I’m letting it out. I’m sharing…

Relinquishing.

-Lauren

Opening up to others.

Talking is really therapeutic.

(Trying not to laugh or scoff  at myself for stating the seemingly obvious, because obviously that wasn’t too obvious for me! And honestly, it may not truly be to you either.)

I like to stay true to what I preach, but I realize more often than not, I’m quick to listen and encourage others to speak up about what’s going on, but I’m not nearly as forthcoming. I’m a private person who has tons of conversations in my head so I feel like I’m addressing issues, and sometimes it is more appropriate to have those self reflection times. But in these last few days, I’ve had some people check on me and open their hearts and ears for me and I’ve said some things out loud and (OH MY GOODNESS) there have been some revelations on things I’ve been conversing with myself about in my head for weeks…months…years…

Just like that, saying some things out loud to other people has created a different type of atmosphere and freedom around me. Things have been revealed. Sound counsel has been delivered. Prayers have been answered. Doors have been opened and closed. Truths have been illuminated. 

I don’t know your “thing,” but for me, I think it’s almost always been the way that I share and let people in – I struggle with that. Since I can remember, I’ve been more of a private person…not exactly sure why that is, however my momma raised me to be independent, but i think in some ways I’d internalized that to mean I have to work out almost everything for myself…then in the last couple of years, I’ve relinquished a bit more and it became what God and I work out together and now I feel like more than ever I’m being forced to see the beauty and power in relationships with others. Because quite frankly, I don’t think this season can be faced without me acknowledging my need for others and then actually opening up to others.

With work, I gotta accept that I don’t know what I don’t know and lean on the wisdom and guidance of others to help me.

With my relationship with my man, I/we have to seek sound counsel that can help us walk our journey.

With my business plan, I have to allow others to share with me what they have so I can learn and even have a chance at success.

I could go on and on with the list, but at the end of the day none of this can happen if I just continue to have conversations in my head with myself. I have to branch out. I have to get outside my comfort zone. This season calls for new things…sometimes I wonder if I’m ready for them, but honestly, I don’t have to be ready or super knowledgeable, I just have to be willing to try…one day at a time.

So hold me accountable y’all! Future posts should show results of me reaching out and conversing openly with others…

-Lauren

Adventure in the “A”

I’ve lived in Atlanta for several months now, however I’ve done very little exploring. This summer has truly been a busy one with travel and major events to attend. But now, I’m ready to explore my new home a little more.

I woke up Saturday feeling slightly adventuresome so I text my favorite partner-in-crime and asked “Will you go exploring with me today!?” 

Here’s some of our day…

*click on the right and left of the image above to view photos*

 

-Lauren Relinquished ❤

Lighting a Fire Under Your Bum

Why Some Dreams and Goals Never Happen:

  1. You don’t ask for help
  2. You don’t know how to take constructive criticism
  3. You’re waiting for “it” to happen

Since a fire was just lit under my bum, I figured it is only right to pass that same fire onto YOU.

Whatever your next step, or thing you’re supposed to be doing, or that thing you’ve been dreaming about is, I’m going to need you to stop making excuses and get on it. Chances are that, that dream/goal does not require rocket science (sorry, but I’ve met most of y’all and none of y’all were geniuses). Most likely what you need is some motivation, someone to tell you that your idea is worth the work, someone to hold you accountable, prayer and sacrifice.

You gotta get out there and do it. Grind some details out and start putting all those ideas to some kind of action. Like seriously, if you’ve been dreaming about this thing for over a year – the time has really come for you to do something!

Stop letting your dreams/goals just go by the wayside – get busy…NOW!

-Lauren

Some destinations require re-routing [VIDEO]

Stopping in to drop some mid-week encouragement on y’all because sometimes it’s hard in these streets!! 

For instance –  we don’t always get to our destination on the first try or in the exact order of the plan, but that’s ok! Remember to stay encouraged along the journey – you’ll get there eventually, even if that means a re-route or you learn of something better instead!

https://youtu.be/OwwcOKy2onQ

The Hospitable Host

I think one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about moving and meeting new people is hosting. If you know me, you know I love to feed people (I get it from my momma), and I’ve found that I enjoy connecting people as well. There’s something about being a host and helping create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and welcomed that just makes me feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside.

All in all, I’m learning a lot about myself here, in this new place – personally, socially and spiritually…

This morning, I stumbled upon Psalm 121 in my devotion. It’s a chapter of 8 verses that speak of God’s character and promise of protection for the Israelites. But I think it’s fair to apply these same promises to our lives personally. I know for me, my life is a series of Israelite stories over and over again –> I was once captive and then God saved/redeemed me and showed/reminded me why He is my Lord and asked me to trust Him and along the journey I stumble…

These 8 verses are pure gold. If you read it fast, you’ll miss what they truly can mean for your life, so chew on these for a minute…

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will [a]protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will [b]guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

 

I read all of this and can’t help but think -He does all of this if we let, allow, invite and keep Him.

I find that a lot of times I invite Him in, but then do a poor job of hosting and making Him feel welcomed in my life (which is slightly odd considering the fact I enjoy hosting people…).

It’s like inviting a guest over for dinner…you text them up and ask them to come over; they agree and drive over; they ring the doorbell to signal they’ve arrived; you let them in and usher them to sit at the kitchen table while you finish getting the meal plated and ready and then somewhere in the process of getting everything ready, you get distracted and step into another room and leave your guest just sitting there…hungry and unwelcomed.

A hospitable host would at least follow-through with the action they invited the guest over for in the first place.

In that same way, we invite God in (i.e “Lord, help me to be more disciplined in my life”), but then don’t give Him much to work with. There has to be some kind of follow-through on our parts. And I know I can personally attest that lately, the follow-through piece has been an issue.

Yes, God can do ANYTHING – He’s good like that, but some things require that we be willing participants. It’s true that God is no stranger in my house and could have easily finished serving those plates that I absently left when I got distracted, but He didn’t “come over” to eat alone – He wants me to eat with Him; dine with Him; talk with Him.

And as I continue to write and think about this, it boils down to the fact that I hold a responsibility to do my part. If I’ve made a request, I sure as heck should follow-through on it and set the atmosphere for things to transpire.

I like to use the word responsible when describing myself, but we all know a word is just a word until we give it meaning (in this case, that meaning has to come through action). Lauren is not responsible until she takes responsibility and owns the role she needs to play.

I wish I had some words of advice to share, but honestly I don’t. At times, my motivation is low and my actions are few. I’m glad to have some clarity and a better understanding of some of my issue, but nonetheless, I want to see myself take more responsibility and be the hospitable host; I want to see follow-through action on the things I’m praying for and not inviting God in only for Him to “sit and eat” alone…

The same way I enjoy hosting people at my place, I’ve got to host God the same way in my heart and life.

Journey with me y’all…

-Lauren