Remember to Relinquish

I’d say I’m past the days of shooting for perfection, yet I still find myself clinging and holding tightly to the idea of it. That “if I just do ____________ , it’ll be just right” type attitude. But that type of perspective throws off aim and focus. Forgetting what I’m doing “it” for in the first place. And when I find myself in those lost places I used to be kind of devastated you know? Now, I take them more like forced pauses, but in a good way. It’s an opportunity to stop. Just stop. Look around and observe my surroundings and how I got there. To take one hand off the the bar I’m holding so tightly to, and let loose a little. And it’s in those moments that I find God and my peace again and stop fretting. I’m told to Relinquish and right there…that’s all I need.

Be still. Breathe in. Breathe out. Remember to Relinquish.

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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

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

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

Checking-in :)

Hey y’all!

It’s real…I really live in a new place now. New job. New place. New challenges. New friends. New license. New bills. lol Etc.

I know I’ve been a little distant lately…I’m just trying to get settled and when I tell you I am learning so much about myself – you wouldn’t believe it.

From something as small as conversations at work, to how I’m dealing with the challenges at my new place and the property manager…it’s definitely stretching and teaching me so much.

There are definitely some things that are different and I’ve had to adjust the way I do things, such as how I use my resources, how I think about things, how I interact with people, how I eat, etc. The list goes on and on, really!

But through it all, I’ve been reminded of my “root” word time and time again – RELINQUISH.

When different challenges or frustrations arise, there’s like this strange calm that comes over me and reminds me everything is going to be fine. I’ve been way more passive in situations that in the past I wouldn’t be, but I still feel this gentle whisper on my spirit telling me to “let it go…”

I can’t wait to update y’all more, but I wanted to check in and share a little as well as remind you that no matter what’s been placed in front of you, what you have coming up, what steps you have to climb – RELINQUISH and let God plan your steps and really guide your path. You don’t have to control every little thing nor have an understanding of everything to be obedient. Just let go and keep pushing forward.

Love y’all!

-Lauren

Waiting, waiting and waiting.

For some reason it hit me really hard this morning that I’m in a state of waiting. To be honest, it really pissed me off. Like waiting for what?!?

The only thing that I should seriously be waiting for is the day The Lord comes back, and I’m pretty sure scripture doesn’t instruct us to put everything on hold until then. I’ve GOT to keep moving and going.

When we’re in a perpetual state of waiting, there’s only one thing that comes from it – delaying or never doing something until the another thing happens.

Don’t get me wrong. I think there’s a time and place for everything (and there are times to wait), but waiting doesn’t mean you stop living and being (sheesh, I don’t think I can say that enough).

 

We wait for so many things in order to feel complete. I think the hardest thing for me this morning was realizing that even when I reach the things I’m waiting for, I’ll still just be in another state of waiting for the next thing. I think it’d be different if in my head I didn’t constantly think I needed something in order to do something else.

And I think I use “waiting” a lot of times as an excuse. It’s easier a lot of times to say I’ll do this when this happens…

For instance, there’s this work project that I find myself increasingly annoyed by every email I receive on it. Mostly because I didn’t want the project in the first place – I was kind of volun-told (when you’re volunteered/told by someone else to do something). On top of that, I’m busy and have some other work things going on that I’m trying to work through. So the timing of this project just isn’t great. My mindset on the whole thing is kind of crappy tho… I keep thinking – if this project came at another time – I’d do a much better job. But the reality is, it’s on my plate now.

So I can’t just wait to get less busy – first of all, it doesn’t work like that and second I can’t just neglect it because I don’t want to do it. If I wait for one thing in order to do another thing, I miss out on the opportunity that’s in front of me presently. It’s true – I don’t want to do it, but this project could help me gain some professional leadership experience, help me build my network and grow advocates (because we know a lot of how the real world works is based on who you know and not just what you know). So there’s definitely some benefits to not delaying, but if my mindset says “wait,” I can’t grow, learn nor experience.

I also find myself holding my breath in my relationship. I’m waiting, but then there’ll be something else to wait for and then something else to wait for and so on and so on… I literally had to tell myself “Bruh, chill. 🙄✋🏾 Just go with the flow!” I just want to enjoy the present and what life has for me to enjoy right now. And I can’t do that if I’m always waiting. Period.

Care to join me in a toast?

*lifts glass*

Here’s to not waiting in order to LIVE! 🍻🎉🎈

Hiding. 

I’m not so sure life was meant to be lived in a bubble, however at times I’ve found myself trying to create that type of atmosphere. It started off as a lifestyle change…

When you’re changing, there are certain things you don’t want nor need to indulge in anymore. Much of my change was mental, so there was a huge need for me to separate myself from certain things and turn off others. Due to the fact I’m kind of an all or nothing type of gal, I can often take things to the extremes.

However, I’ve observed a lot of those extremes become not so rigid with time and reality checks. But there are times that I still find myself unable to cash out those checks…

In my mind, there are constructs of what certain things should look like, how certain things should be done, etc. When those things don’t play out how I think they should/supposed to, I judge them as – good or bad; wrong or right. I find myself doing this a lot in my walk as a Christian…

When I found myself at a low place, it seemed God was the only one who could help me…and He did. But in order to receive help, I had to help myself too. So over a long period there was a lot of giving up and giving in that took place. After some time, I became super serious about wanting change and newness in my life, and out went everything that I felt conviction in my spirit about (It wasn’t quite that simple, but roll with me for a second). As I began to walk in this new-found lifestyle, I found a lot more peace and clarity. I needed the time of separation to meet myself and God. (As hard as those times were at times, I wouldn’t change any of it.)

Naturally, I grew and matured and started to truly become. I had peace about decisions I made and I was unapologetic in a lot of ways. I had happiness and joy in my life and I thought “The weather so breezy, man, why can’t life always be this easy?” (yes, that’s a Kanye reference). My point is, for the most part, everything felt safe. But looking back, I realize I still missed the unpredictability of weather in the outside world. I was living in somewhat of a protective, climate-controlled bubble because of all the rules and constructs I had set up during my time of separation.

Separation is needed, but when we become comfortable with separation as an excuse for not doing what we know we need to do – then separation just becomes an excuse to hide.

Hiding is definitely a defense mechanism. Staying out of harm’s way, often times sounds like the best plan. And I’ve watched myself set up boundaries in order to stay away from harm. However, I’m learning that more times than not, I am the harm I’m fighting so hard to get away from.

 

I become convinced and content in my little bubble while I ignore every reason why I need to take a different approach. Hiding becomes my excuse to be blind, stand-offish, judgmental, unloving, irrational, ignorant, intolerant, etc.

It’s so easy to assess right and wrong outside your bubble while completely ignoring your own right and wrongness inside the bubble.

And in all of this, I had a deep fear of exposing myself to outside elements. I had made up in my mind what I would and would not do. But if you’re really trying to do life with the people God places in your life, you’ll soon find that a limited mindset leaves you in a limited space with limited growth. 

And if I’m truly trusting God as much as I proclaim, then I’ll trust him when He pushes me to take the training wheels off or remove parts of my climate-controlled bubble.

If there’s one thing I am trying to communicate in this – it’s for lovers and followers of God to not hide behind rules, religion, their expectations, judgement, etc. as a means to live. In Ephesians 4:1, Paul urges the people of Ephesus to “Live a life worthy of your calling.” A call may come for us to separate ourselves from things of old, but living a calling cannot be done in the confines of something we’re hiding behind.

I know I’ve been hiding; scared to live out in the open; Scared of finding out how weak or strong I am; scared of failing or succeeding; scared of not fitting a stereotype or the construct in my mind…

But, I can’t hide forever. I really can’t. My spirit won’t let me, nor will God. Some great people God’s placed in my life won’t let me either!

We’re just not meant to live in a bubble forever. Sure, it serves its purpose for a time, but eventually you have to emerge. Like the dope poet Propaganda said: “Caterpillars who fall in love with their cocoons…lose.”

Stop hiding.