|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.
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 –
- I have no idea why I’m trying to pursue an MBA
- I want to have a reason to move and start fresh.
(3 is the one that got me)
- 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…
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…
Why Some Dreams and Goals Never Happen:
- You don’t ask for help
- You don’t know how to take constructive criticism
- 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!
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!
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?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will [a]protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
8 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…
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.
I’m sitting here thinking about this time last year when I was preparing to go on my very first mission trip to Cape Town, South Africa. I was nervous and excited all at the same time; I felt so blessed and privileged for the opportunity to embark on that adventure. I was also super expectant and just knew that it would be life-changing…and it was.
Today, almost mirrors last year. The only thing that separates then from now is 365 days of time and space. Just like last year, I’m nervous and excited and feeling incredibly blessed for the opportunity that lays before me. I will be embarking on a new adventure and relocating to Georgia! And I am expecting this May and beyond to be nothing short of life-changing, as well 🙂
As you can imagine, I’m stoked for the newness, but you know “new” can also be kind of scary. Not to mention, transitioning mentally, physically and spiritually into this new season has its moments. There are ways you prepare yourself (and others) for what’s to come, but I think you can only prepare so much.
As I reflect on last year, I think about what I did to prepare for that almost 8,300 mile voyage to Cape Town South Africa. I got shots, I shopped, I put in vacation time, I gave notice, I fund-raised, I prayed, etc. And there was another thing…I’m not sure I realized how instrumental this was to the preparation process at the time, but now it’s glaring—
I expected to experience and see God in South Africa. I expected Him to meet me there and show me new things. I expected that I would return home changed. I expected I would grow deeper relationships and gain new friends.
I had a mindset of expectancy that said “I’m expecting great things and I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer.”
I believe this attitude opened me up to fully experience my situation in a different way.
I’m not talking about what you think “should” happen or how you think it “should” happen, I’m simply talking about expecting something to happen.
Expecting means to anticipate the occurrence of something with reason (www.dictionary.com). You’re not closing yourself off to the details of how it can happen, but leaving yourself open for it TO happen whichever way it may. And honestly that takes a great deal of relinquishing control so you can just experience – you know…undergo, meet, feel, savor, enjoy…
So just like last May, this May – I am expecting.
I can’t promise that I’ll ever be fully prepared for the journey ahead, but I can promise myself that I will expect to experience God, life, surprises, love and growth.
Sincerely an Expectant Lauren ❤
Luke 8:39 – “Return home and tell how much God has done for you”
I’m not a great story teller. I’m not exactly sure how to introduce my experience, so bear with me as I jump right into it…
The abuse started around year 1. Well, the physical abuse. There were always elements of mental and emotional abuse from day one, but I rationalized with myself and deemed it to be acceptable because his jealous and controlling ways meant “he cared about me” and his hurtful words meant he just “kept it real.” Little did I know those were warning signs to a much larger battle that I’d be fighting – literally.
The first big episode that occurred was the day before Valentine’s Day in 2013. I remember because he got me the cutest stuffed monkey and a pink card that read “I’m sorry for the bruises. I love you.” My bruised arms and ribs needed some TLC so I ran a bath and sat in the tub for hours. In that exact moment is when the thought of leaving him first came to mind. I had no idea how I was going to do it. I hadn’t told anyone about what was going on. I knew as soon as I told someone, I’d be held accountable to get out of the relationship and as crazy as it sounds, I don’t know if I was ready to leave yet. It wasn’t because I was dependent on him. Thankfully I was blessed with a great job and a high degree of self-sufficiency. And it wasn’t because I necessarily still loved and wanted to be with him (which was true in a sense)…but it was more so because of the threats. When someone constantly threatens you, tells you they’ll kill you if you ever try to walk out, you believe them. I believed him and I was afraid. I thought it’d be safer to stay and just pray that God changes him, versus me testing him and risking my life. Leaving didn’t sound safe to me. It sounded scarier than just continuing to be with him, so that’s exactly what I decided to do…continue to be with him.
As time progressed, so did the abuse. I’ll spare the details and stories of how and when each blow happened, but I do want to tell you how my spirit was being changed. See, I had always been my own version of a ‘Christian’. What I mean by that is, I went to church (when I wasn’t hungover from the night before), tithed (occasionally), and told people “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” I was that girl. I never had a relationship with God, just a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts that I followed when I felt like it. But about 2.5 years into this relationship, something within me was changing. My heart, mind, and soul was yearning for Christ in a way that I’ve never experienced before. And at this point during our entire relationship we NEVER attended church together. Never. When I approached my then boyfriend about going to church, he was completely against it. In fact, just hearing anything that had to do with God or church sent him into a state of INTENSE anger. I prayed for him – but the more I prayed it seemed like the angrier he got. He didn’t want me to go to church, read the Bible, etc. He hated anything that had to do with my faith. Very quickly I realized the battle that I was fighting was no longer just physical, but a spiritual one as well.
Fast forward to our 3 year anniversary: Right after we exchanged our ‘Happy Anniversaries’ we got into an argument and I told him I was done and I was leaving. Which was something I’d wanted to do for the past year and a half and I finally gained enough strength and courage to get up and go, permanently. I remember praying beforehand and saying, “Lord, if you get me out of this, I promise you’ll get the glory and I’ll never look back.” Through some struggle I made it down the steps to the front door, but I was knocked down. The man that I called mine for the past several years straddled over top of me and placed his hands around my neck for the very last time. I remember laying there thinking, “Ok, this is it. This is the moment I’m losing my life.” So I decided to not fight back anymore. I knew this was a physical battle I was sure to lose, so I just laid there and accepted it. As soon as I stopped fighting, my abuser looked at me, quickly released his grip around my neck, and backed away from me with his hands in the air. The look he gave me was one that I’ll never forget. It was like he just saw a ghost or something. Not only did he stop harming me, but this same man helped me get my things together so I could leave!
I witnessed God move in my situation within seconds. It was a complete supernatural experience. And I also realized I wasn’t just fighting my abuser. I’m not taking away responsibility for his actions, but unfortunately he was just a willing vessel to carry out the harm, and the real battle that I was fighting was with the enemy. The devil doesn’t fight you when you’re compliant with his agenda. The opposition worsened while I was getting my breakthrough.
Some of you are in the same position I was, maybe just in a different scenario. You’re on the ground, lifeless, the enemy has his hands around your neck and you have no more fight left in you. But let me tell you that sometimes that’s the best position that we can be in, because all we can do while we’re laying down on our backs is look up and focus on Him. That’s when God can get our attention the most. I tried to run before, but I would go back to my abuser. I was persuaded and convinced back into the hands of a toxic spirit…and that’s something the devil is good at as well. He’ll tell you to stay in a harmful situation and reason with you to do so. I was there, and that’s a dangerous place to be – where your place of comfort is a place of destruction.
“You’re on the ground, lifeless, the enemy has his hands around your neck and you have no more fight left in you. But let me tell you that sometimes that’s the best position that we can be in, because all we can do while we’re laying down on our backs is look up and focus on Him.”
At one point I questioned if God even existed. Logically, God didn’t make sense – that’s what I would hear often. But logically, I’m not supposed to be here today. Logically, my abuser would have choked me to death that night. Logically, through all the abuse, I shouldn’t have a sound mind and sleep well at night. But…my God surpasses all logic and I know, that I know, that I KNOW!
I’ve already talked way too long, but someone needed to hear this. I’m not sure who it is or where you are, but YOU need to hear that God can and will get you out of your trouble…you just have to let Him. The battle is not yours, it never was. It’s God’s. Give Him your battle and you’ll come out with the victory EVERY TIME.
If you or someone you know is battling domestic violence please tell someone while considering yours and their safety. You can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and they will give you resources or next steps in trying to figure out what to do. If you’re in a very dangerous situation, I would suggest and encourage you to visit your local domestic violence division and report the incidents.
Thank you for reading and letting me tell you what God has done for me…He deserves all the glory and honor! God bless you all!
A Woman Renewed
*This post was written by a woman who wanted to share her story anonymously with YOU. Should you need prayer or have questions, please email LaurenRelinquished@GMail.com or leave comments below.*