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.

Advertisements

Safe. 

It’s scary to leave your “safe” place when you don’t have a script or instruction manual to know what to say or do. It’s scary to leave your “safe” place when what’s around you is new and foreign. It’s scary to leave your “safe” place for things that are unfamiliar.

But what exactly are you defining as “safe”?

Psalm 91:1-2 says – Those who live in the shelter of the Most High, will find rest in the shadow of The Almighty. He alone is my refuge, my place of SAFETY: He is my God and I trust Him. 

Is God not safe enough for you?? 

The task seems daunting when we don’t feel “safe” leaving our “comfort,” but God…yes God is THE SAFE PLACE

Trust what He’s intentionally showing you. Trust what He’s purposed for you. Jump into God’s safety and take risks today!

❤️

What Are You Searching For?

What are you searching for?

Be honest.

If you were to look over your last couple hours/days/weeks/months, how have you been spending your time? What kind of activities have you been engaging in? What have you spent your money on?

Think about it. Did you find a common theme(s) ruling all of your time?
I posed those questions because I found that the way I was spending my time, was not in fact aligned with what I proclaim to want.

We say we want one thing, yet we may lack the actions and behavior to get that. So I ask you, what are you searching for? 

Are you searching for affirmation and confirmation? If so, who are you looking to, to affirm and confirm you?

(If you’re waiting on a human, please know: if you live for their praise, you’ll also die from their criticism)

Are you searching for love? If so, who/what are you wanting/attempting to get it from? Does God love you? Do you love yourself? Are those two sources not enough for you? Why is that? Dig deeper! (You may be amazed at what you find out and need to change your mind on…)

(Please know: God’s love is enough. Of course others’ love is applauded and needed too, but if your foundation of love isn’t set upon God’s, you’ll search endlessly for the love you think you need/want.)

Are you searching for purpose? If so, are you basing your purpose on fleeting things? Are you searching by comparing what everyone else is doing?

(Please know: you were created on purpose for a purpose and your purpose is absolutely and positively, UNIQUE TO YOU. Spend time asking God what He has for you and then be patient and open enough to hear/see/do what he reveals to you.)

—-

I encourage you to be honest about what you’re searching for and your means to get it. If there’s a gap between what you’re looking for and how you’re attempting to get it, then reevaluate your actions and behavior and then put forth work to change things. For me, God is a great giver of instructions and guidance – so I encourage you too, to talk to Him (He’s waiting to hear from you).

-Lauren❤️

Unwrap The Gift! [[The “UNPACKING” Series – Part 4]]

I feel closest to God not just when I’m praying, but when I’m doing what He’s instructed me to do and I’m praying along the way.

When I’m doing what He’s told me to do, there’s this type of connection and dependency I have on The Father; A fine mingling between our spirits because we’re communicating on the same wave length.

I pray. He leads. I do it and I pray for next steps. I’m moving with God, not in opposition to Him.

Did you catch that?

I said: I AM MOVING WITH GOD.

Many times we pray out of habit (not a bad thing), but we directly neglect what He told us to do in the first place. It’s more of a series like this: We pray. He leads. We ignore and pray some more about the same things.

So in other words, we don’t do what He told us. ⬅️ This fact has been super amplified in my life especially after a friend’s recent introduction of a book called Wasted Prayer by Greg Darley (I definitely recommend this one).

I think over the last couple months, this is something God has really been trying to teach me. Not only has He placed people, things and messages all around me, but he’s been so faithful and generous with His blessings these last couple months as I’ve begun to start d o i n g.

As my Pastor Dr. Mike Scruggs said in church Sunday – “God rewards consistency.”  But consistency requires some type of action to be repeated over and over again. Notice I said: A C T I O N.

But yet so often, the action steps never happen for me because I’m so fearful of what it really means to take that step. To r e l i q u i s h control and really let God lead me to those necessary action steps.

It’s like I’d become such a scaredy cat (notice how I wrote that in past tense because I’m leaving that mess in the past), but I’d become such a scaredy cat that I wouldn’t allow myself to just reach into the box and pull stuff out because I wasn’t sure what I’d get or even if I’d like it.

If I think of these boxes God has given me to UNPACK as simple gifts, why would I be willing to rip off the gift wrap, tear open the box but still too scared to fully uncover what’s in the box??

My boxes are gifts. Therefore the contents of my boxes are presents specifically picked out for me (My what a blessing that is)! So let me fully UNWRAP and UNPACK the gift and see it out in the open – not confined to a box or any other type of wrapping. Taking it out the box actually F R E E S the gift and thus liberates me.

In that same way, praying frees the pray-er of stress and worry and allows God to present a set of instructions as a gift. The pray-er then should accept the gift of instructions and fully unwrap it and do as God has instructed! 

Therefore, the unwrapping is the action step in which we actually begin to UNPACK and live out our blessings bit by bit, one step at a time. 

So are we unwrapping the gifts of instructions God is giving us or simply pushing and praying away wrapped gifts with our names on them too afraid to actually unpack them??

#QTNA (Questions That Need Answers)

———-

UNPACK & UNWRAP!

Lord, thank you first and foremost for continually blessing me with gifts. Thank you for showing me all these gift around me that I have yet to open. I’m
So grateful that you still provide gifts even when I’ve ignored the ones you’ve already given. Please forgive me and all my ignorance, Lord. Help me to no longer discard nor toss your gifts to the side. Help me to be thankful for your gifts/answers and to UNWRAP and DO those gifts and blessings you give.

Amen.

When You’re Given Directives…[[The “Unpacking” Series – Part 3 

One of the clear ways that God speaks to me is thru writing. So He often leads me back to past journal entries and blog posts so I can re-read.
I was rereading part 2 of this series and God pointed out a piece of it to me:


“…often times my ideas of how things should happen, overrides His simple directives.”
But what is a “directive” exactly?

Let’s break it down…
So I took a little stroll over to my handy dandy dictionary app and the 2nd definition really hit me. Like, REALLY hit me – jumped off the screen and smacked me in the face -hit me. It said:

I interpreted this as, God acts as our psychologist. When things get bad enough, we humble ourselves to talk (or pray) to Him for help. We tell Him what we know and we wait for His advice back – like a counselor.

But what this definition pointed out to me, is that the counselor doesn’t just listen and take the information I’ve been able to relay, but the counselor actively offers advice outside of the details and info I give!

I want y’all to understand why this was such a juicy find for me – I can cry and whine to The Father with the details of my situation, yet God gives me answers NOT confined to the knowledge that I know.

Not only does this blow my mind but it also makes me marvel at how omniscient He is!

Despite how serious and how overwhelming a situation may feel, God supplies the right answer to ALL the things we bring before Him. He is not limited by the amount of information we give on a situation to tell us what The real and right answer is right NOW in our lives!

Listen to His D I R E C T I V E S !!!

⬆️⬆️⬆️⬆️

So The Lord and I have been talking about my need to NOT override his simple directives (commands) with what I think things should be. So this verse literally tells me not only to submit to His right answer, but also to commit and follow His commands by reminding myself of them everywhere I go so I don’t forget!
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” -‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:6-7‬

So what commands or directives did The Lord speak over my life?

Well, I got the following:

POUR OUT

Stop withholding doing and saying that which needs to be said & done because I’m unsure of the answer The Lord has given me. Just let it out and submit and commit to The Lord’s answer to my life.
SUBMIT & COMMIT TO HIS ANSWERS

Often times how I think things should go causes me to put my hopes on what I’ve imagined. It’s ok to imagine, but when God has given me His answer, I need to flee from my own way of thinking and align myself with His thoughts and be flexible in that way.
EXAMINE MY OWN ACTIONS

Many times I find myself so worried about the next person, that I fail to seek guidance on what Lauren is doing and should be doing. I must examine my own actions and do what I’m prompted to do instead of critiquing my neighbors.

These are now the screensaver for my phone because I need to remind myself constantly of what it is I need to do! Because you know how it is…sometimes we forget things that we’re just taught…

When I want to hold back, I’m reminded I need to simply let things flow out as God needs me to without holding back!
When I’m stuck in the midst of my plans and how I want things to go, I’m reminded to RELINQUISH what I think, and submit to God’s right answer for me [[“We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer.” -‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:1‬]]

When I’m bothered by others actions and planning and agonizing on what I think they should do, I’m reminded to look in the mirror and assess what it is I’M doing and ask God what it is He needs me to to do right then.

—-

My prayer during this UNPACKING series has been for God to literally wreck me from the inside out. So much of growing into yourself is not only opening boxes and learning all the contents of those boxes, but it’s also getting rid of, cleaning out and adjusting all the contents too.

Let’s keep unpacking yall! ❤

—-

Should Unpacking Get Messy?? [The “Unpacking” Series – Part 2]

I am so tickled right now.

When God gives you opportunities to laugh with Him, please DO IT!

This deep belly laugh growing in my spirit is nearly bringing me to tears.

They say “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans” – I have my issues with that saying, but in my situation today, it really is proving true.

Like, have you ever just laughed at how ridiculous someone is?

Well…today’s knee-slapper is my own ridiculousness.

I’m over here shifting and planning and moving and shaking and holding up progress because I’m convinced this particular “thing” has to happen in a certain way, but God just stops me and is like “Really…Really Lauren…this is what we’re doing now??” (and He said it in his Kevin Hart voice lol jk 😂

Like seriously, we can be given the simplest of instructions, but yet we still make them complicated.

image

I know I find ways to make things complex, all the time and I’ve been doing the same with this “UNPACKING” thing. I still hold this deep underlying need to plan everything out. So for instance, before I unpack these boxes, I have to have a plan for where everything goes. So I’ve been browsing other people’s lives like Pinterest boards – trying to see what to re-pin, like and recreate. But can I tell you a secret?

“If you’ve been given a simple directive, JUST DO THAT!”

Because of my struggles with perfectionism and my want to plan, I feel this need to “prepare” before I do all this unpacking of Lauren. The funny thing is, I have no idea what I’m going to find out about myself as I unpack, yet I’m looking for how to organize it. Does that make any sense to you? Yeah, me neither! That’s why I’m not going to do that anymore!

Life isn’t as simple as a thumb-swipe, a like and a re-pin. We don’t just incessantly scroll thru pictures and ideas and plan our lives. There’s nothing wrong with admiring other peoples’ great ideas/gifts/talents/etc., but there is certainly a time and a place for it. And my ability to look into others “lives” to help plan mine, is not helpful. In fact, it’s quite misplaced.

Additionally, there’s nothing wrong with planning. But again, there’s a time and a place for it  and in my case, I’m just stalling because I’m afraid of what all I’m going to find out. 😔

If I’ve yet to unpack my own boxes and understand what all Lauren is made of, why would I be trying to decorate her like someone else’s place when she is her OWN place?!?

(I’ll wait…)

The idea of dressing Lauren up as someone else is ludicrous, right?

God never told me I needed to go on “Pinterest” and make these excessive boards full of ideas. He simply told me to UNPACK, but often times my ideas of how things should happen, overrides His simple directives.

My need to control situations does not change the fact that God still holds my life in His hands. So whether I delay it by putting my own thoughts and ideas on a matter or not, God still waits for us to position ourselves how He told us to.

So…

I began unpacking one of my first boxes over the last week…

And there’s so much freedom and joy in my spirit because of it! No, I don’t have any extravagant plans of where I’m going to put what I’ve unpacked, but just having them out in the open is freeing enough (who would’ve thunk it?)!!

Despite popular belief, UNPACKING doesn’t have to be this super organized and detailed process. In fact, it is likely to get a little messy.

But can I help free you?

LIFE IS MESSY – it’s full and its lively!

When we allow God to “organize” the mess that the contents of all our boxes create, we open ourselves up to divine plans that only He can set for us.

I’ll admit – saying that is one thing, but actually allowing God to do that, is another. I’m still in the “understanding” portion of all that, but I believe…YES (day by day, it is a task), but I believe.

It’s time to get messy.

-Lauren Still Relinquishing ❤

*Read Part 1 in The “Unpacking” Series here!

Moving In [The “Unpacking” Series – Part 1]

You’ve found the PERFECT house/apartment and you’re super excited about moving in! 😃🎉

Limitless possibilities await as you brainstorm decorations, furniture placement, social events you’ll hold, meals you’ll prepare and more! It’s going to be so awesome!!!

–> But do we just stop at the potential of awesomeness or actually create and live in that awesomeness??

I find myself standing… Standing in this awesome new place and I’m not kidding y’all, it is all kinds of UH-MAY-ZING!
I’ve pictured so many times the things I’ll do, what it will feel like…simply just what it will be like!

And you know what? I finally made the decision to move all my furniture and boxes in! But if any of yall have moved before, you understand what a huge undertaking it is and how much it takes out of you. So out of sheer fatigue, I plopped down on one of the boxes in my new place and took a small break to settle down and just admire the new place some more.

As the days passed and life continued to move on, I found it hard to find the time to unpack all the boxes so I unpacked the essential everyday type stuff and left everything else for the next day. The problem is, I left it for the next day, but the next day came and I still couldn’t find the time to unpack the rest! So I put it off again…and again…oh and again 😕

Now, here I am, it’s been months and I still haven’t unpacked ALL the boxes!! That’s so embarrassing to admit *covers face* I really do love my new place, but I seem to be having a hard time “LOVING ON IT.”

Loving on it takes far more work, so I’ve stuck to simply visualizing it and all its potential for greatness. Sometimes I even sit around and just stare at what the walls & windows will look like when they’re decorated, what the rooms will smell like when I have people over for dinner, etc.

Dreaming about this awesome place was cool at first, but now it just irks me. The dreams of how things could be are now nothing short of menacing. I come home and immediately want to go elsewhere because the blank walls mock me and the boxes are such a sight for sore eyes -piled left and right and begging me to unpack them.

Today, that’s exactly what my spirit screamed at me:

“UNPACK THE BOXES, LAUREN!”

The Spirit begged to know what excuse I had for not listening to the instruction given. These are the questions asked:

-How much longer can you keep it only as a vision?

-When are you going to pick up a box and make your perfect place, a home?

Well Spirit…good questions! There are no excuses. Why haven’t I moved in to this super, awesome place? It serves me no good to be in a place that’s perfect, yet never actually move into it and experience it’s perfection.

So as God led me thru this, I began to see how necessary it is for me to unpack RIGHT NOW.

Metaphorically, I’ve moved into a new space, but my lack of ability to unpack my boxes and make this new place a home serves as a huge hindrance to my growth, healing, love and sanity because this new place is called “Lauren.”

Identity has been a struggle for years and now I’ve had the pleasure to meet Lauren and actually move into her! It’s great, honestly, but I’ve yet to really unpack all her knick knacks and delicate furnishings.

A home is not a home until you actually move into it!

Does that make sense? Im not talking about you just use it for your basic necessities, but I mean REALLY move into it as a space that you’ve made and can call your very own.

In my case, if I’m accepting Lauren as my home, then I have to not only see her potential, but make her homey and livable by loving each and every wall, window, room, nook, cranny and more. I have to begin to explore by taking the time to unpack the boxes and learn what needs to be hung up, set in its place and also what needs to be thrown out -I know I’ve accumulated junk over the years.

Moving is hard; It is exhausting; It is laborious and yet it must be done.

The task given –> UNPACK.
That is what I must do. That is what I will do.

*Stay tuned as I share more of my “Unpacking” stories!*

-Lauren “Still Learning How to Relinquish” Williams ❤

Be Committed or Just Forget It

Be Committed Or Forget It

Sooooooo…I got called out last night.

God pointed out very clearly that I haven’t been serious about several things in my life.

To be honest, it kind of hurt. I was convinced that I had been, but after several back and forth “No, don’t you remember when I did this…” I realized my arguing with God wasn’t going to get me anywhere. After all, He does know all…

One area He pointed out to me was my fitness goals. I started this 30 day diet/fast on June 18 – I needed some discipline in my life and I was TOO ready to shed a few pounds so I was feeling pretty good going into it – no beef, no pork, no fried foods, no desserts (my ice cream intake was ridiculous – borderline embarrassing so I’ll withhold those details for now lol). I wouldn’t say this diet has been crazy hard, maybe a few moments of frustration since it is cookout/bbq season and I can’t eat everything I want, but all in all, it hasn’t been too bad. I know very well that the weight loss battle is won in the kitchen. Many studies, blogs, fitness gurus and  fanatics have harped that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% workout. So I felt like I had the diet portion down, but I’ve seen little headway. I blame it mostly on my lack of motivation for that 20% part.

I actually enjoy working out, but your girl has been pretty lazy lately.  I shoot for 3-4 workouts a week and I’ve barely completed one a week!  For some reason my energy has been lower than usual so I tend to not take that extra effort to make it out on a jog around the neighborhood or park. To sum it up, I’d say that there are a lot of holes and flaws in my plan:

I have a serious goal, but no serious behavior to achieve that goal.

God made it very clear that although I’ve made up my mind that “this” is what I want to do, I haven’t also changed attitudes and behaviors to match the goal.

Not only have I lacked a matching behavior and attitude in my fitness goal, but also in some other personal goals like marriage. I’m totally serious about wanting to be married someday, but I haven’t been completely serious in all of the preparation period. Things get challenging and I tend to lose some steam at times and thus my motivation train moves a little slower (or not at all). However, marriage is serious and requires some serious commitment; therefore, I shouldn’t take the goal lightly, right?

 I think we all know the answer to that question. But my question now is – do we take bad habits used when trying to achieve “smaller” goals into our actions when trying to achieve “bigger” goals?

I ask because I’ve noticed a pattern in my own life. I would say my fitness goal is serious; however, I would probably put it on a lower level than my marriage goal. That’s not to say it’s less important, but my overall goal is to be healthy (no diabetes, no high cholesterol, no heart problems – those run in my family), but right now I’m trying get a clean 6 pack, toned arms and that super cool thigh muscle that sticks out lol – those are more for my own personal bragging rights. Yet I’ve noticed that the same way I seem to be unable to lose these extra pounds and make headway in my weight loss goal is the same way that I’ve made very little headway in my maturity and readiness for marriage.

I’ve made up my mind that I definitely want them, but my actions, behavior and attitudes are not on the same page as my mind.

So first things first – I need to revisit the goal; determine it is still a goal and put parameters in place so that my mind, heart and actions are on the same page –  I need every part of myself to be committed to seeing that goal come to fruition.

I’m learning that not only is being committed to a goal making up your mind daily and hourly for the mission at hand, but it is also doing the necessary things to reach that goal, which includes a lot of sacrificing.

I had to ask myself last night –

At what point are your actions actually going to match your words?

It’s not enough to simply profess your goal out loud or on paper (although that step is very important), you have to put the action behind those goals to bring them to life and thus fruition.

So now, I’m done with the games. I’m telling myself –

Either be committed or just forget it!

If you want it bad enough, you’ll put in all the work required to get it.

What point are you at?


Fun Note: This is totally a confession, but I wrote the blog post before this one, with someone else in mind. I got kind of motivated to write it while hearing them making excuses. It’s funny that I was so busy judging them in that instance that I didn’t realize those words of advice were really for me. Oh the irony…

Check out the last blog post here!

Reaching Out in #LOVE

We may live in a fallen world and there may be a lot of fallen people around me, but my heart longs to help pick others up.

#LOVE

It hurts and sucks to be down and out and know that there is something more. It’s the worst feeling ever to run around chasing things that are fleeting only to end up on the ground wishing you weren’t still empty.

I can identify with all these things because I’ve been there. I’m no better than the next person and I’m so thankful that The Lord came for the lame. His love, His mercy and grace is so powerful and undeniably needed.

I’m grateful that others helped pick me up; That seeds were planted by their examples alone.

And having once been down and now up, I understand that He’s the only one who brings me peace. I want others to experience peace too

If there’s any way I can help, whether it be a listening ear, a warm embrace, a helping hand, etc., please let me know how I can help.

Love you.

Yes….YOU! ❤