GUEST POST: “Return.” By Anonymous

 

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!

Signed,

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.*

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The Dream is Yours for the Taking

No one really gets anywhere without a fight. Some stories are a bit more obvious than others, but underneath the success, I think you’ll find that there’s almost always a fight. The underlying grind and determination to get to the goal is pertinent to the journey. 

If you want something, go get it – be committed to that dream and who assigned you to that dream. I know God doesn’t give me butterflies and excitement and visuals of things that weren’t meant for me. It’s my job however to be committed to God and the dreams that He’s given me and then to live them – by doing the work to get it.

I don’t know what your dream looks like or what obstacles await you, but you CAN be confident in your dream and work toward it. It’ll be tough and will require some faith in action, but be assured that there’s beauty in that struggle and the goal can be attained.

 

Be blessed!<3

 

If you’re not doing that, then what are you doing? 

When someone feels empowered, they’re able to do almost anything.

Who are you encouraging, praising, or supporting today?

Today’s message is simple – EMPOWER OTHERS. When people feel empowered, they soar through challenges and delight in victories; They relish the sight of their light and encourage others to see their own light.

If you’re not encouraging, praising, supporting or loving on someone today, then who are you inspiring? And if you’re doing none of the above, then what are you doing??

Taking a moment to acknowledge someone else could be just the motivation you need to keep going on your own path.

Be generous with your positive and encouraging energy – essentially it plants something much bigger than just a seed…

a flower…

turned garden.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” -‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24‬ ‭

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.

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❤️

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 ❤