BLOG UPDATE

Hey Ladies!

Just wanted to give you all a quick update as I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Things have been going great! I’ve been super busy as my branding company is booming this summer and I’m finishing up the manuscript for MY FIRST BOOK!! The book is titled ‘Single In The Sanctuary” and is a practical guide, or I’ll say help rather, for Christian singles learning to thrive in a season of singleness. I’ve been working on it for quite some time but it was time to really light a fire under my backside and get this thing rolling. I’m almost finished and the book should be released at the end of this year! (Please keep me in your prayers!) So writing wise, I’ve really been focused on getting the book done but I’ll be back on the blog regularly as soon as my manuscript is sent to my publisher (which should be no later than the end of next month). In the meantime, I’ll still be popping up on here getting feedback on some things I’d like to add to the blog, like an ask.fm account to get questions you’d like me to discuss on the blog (or just questions in general) and topic ideas for YouTube videos! We’ve got a lot in store! Please believe I’m always planning and working on COAL even when you don’t see me! If you’d like more information on the book (and possibly a sneak peek) please feel free to let me know in the comments or shoot me an email at iheartcoal@live.com. I’d love to hear from you, especially my single ladies *cues dance*. While this book is for guys and girls, I’d like to know some of you ladies’ struggles, concerns and frustrations or GOOD STUFF as it relates to being single. What do you wish someone would’ve told you or what do you feel like you or others need to know? Let’s keep in touch and I’ll be back on the regular SUPER soon!

Love,

Lo ❤

Confessions Of A Lady

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Butterfly State of Mind

newcreature

    The transformation of a butterfly has become a very reoccurring instance in my life, whether it’s a word God gives me through quiet devotion or via someone else. In fact, I recently helped start a women’s group through the campus ministry I’m apart of and we named it Metamorphosis. This name was so unique to me because I found that our common thread as ladies, and as people, is our constant state of metamorphosis. Whether you’re a caterpillar, in the cocoon or have evolved into a beautiful butterfly, we’re all at some stage of discovering and becoming who God has destined for us to be. Each stage comes with it’s own set of challenges and responsibilities.

    We often forget that each stage also comes with it’s own set of fears and insecurities as well. Being afraid because you’re in a caterpillar stage doesn’t mean you’ll be any less afraid as a butterfly. In fact, I think one of the scariest times in life, might just be the moment after you release from the cocoon. You’ve spent your entire existence preparing for a stage in your life that, when you get to it, is entirely instinctive. All that is familiar to you is crawling and eating leaves but you no longer have the tools to do so successfully. Your instincts are telling you to fly but every time you try to get off the ground you fall back down. Do you stay in the memory of what once was or do you continue to fight for where you have been shaped and destined to go?

This morning, in my quiet time, I wrote,

    I, sometimes, feel like the butterfly who refused to fly. I didn’t realize my wings had to dry before I took off and that it was necessary for me to take the time to adjust to my new form. I thought I’d just shoot out of the cocoon with only the prior knowledge I had as a caterpillar. Finding out I couldn’t do that was a blow to my ego, for sure. So often, I find myself hanging out by the leaves, smelling their nostalgic aroma all the while refusing myself of the new sap I’m supposed to be eating with my new mouth. I’m crawling more than I’m attempting to fly. What if I try and I fall again? What if my new wings are still too new? Now, those are starting to sound more and more like silly excuses. Why not throw caution to the wind and just try? Who cares if I fall?

    Have you ever taken the time to consider that God doesn’t care if you try and end up falling? Have you ever thought that maybe walking on the water and falling was far more noble, brave and righteous than choosing to stay in the boat? God clearly addresses the anxiety we feel when it’s time to leave our comfort zones and exist in a whole new realm in His word. He says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken,” Psalms 55:22. Does this mean you will never physically make mistakes? No. It means that if you’ve truly cast your burdens onto the Lord, you won’t have to worry about finding yourself, in fear or complacency, amongst the leaves that caterpillars eat. Or as Bishop Jakes put it, “You’ll learn to eat on your level.”

    Burden is defined as “a duty or misfortune that causes worry, hardship or distress.” Care is defined as “a concern, often negative.”

     When we cast our cares or burdens on the Lord, which are usually wrapped up in what others might see or think of us, our mistakes no longer translate as failure but as opportunities to improve and get better; to do it again, the right way. Let your mistakes produce wisdom not burdens. With God as your anchor you have a 100% guarantee of success. It’s just a matter of what you decide to define that success as. Will you put your hope in your’s or someone else’s false expectations of you or will you decide to let Christ guide you? Physically falling may be apart of your process, while stamping failure on your life because of it doesn’t have to be. Making mistakes while being in God’s hands will afford you the opportunity to learn how to become your best you. You gain wisdom and knowledge because you now know, first hand, what works and what doesn’t. Other people may be watching you, but ultimately you are living for an audience of One. And with this audience of One, you can fly as high as you want and live out your fullest potential. With God, nothing can stand in the way of a butterfly (or lady 😉 ) determined to live out her divine destiny and fly.

Bye, Bye Barbie Life!

    The majority of my friends have either graduated undergrad within the past 4-5 years or so or are currently preparing for that walk across the stage. It’s an exciting time but also very uncertain. As we each walk out our separate paths, we’ve come to the realization that adulthood has not rolled out a special red carpet or posted a beautiful welcome banner for any of us. And while many of us had great plans coming in to college, we’re all only able to check one or two things, if that, off of our list. The one or two things we can check off probably didn’t come about the way we envisioned they would. Whether school takes longer than anticipated, that dream job never comes, or discovering that what you love is the complete opposite of what you now owe thousands of dollars for, life has a rather humorous way of showing you who’s in control…hint: not you.

    What happens to us after that? We often start life out as little girls who have planned their whole lives, from marriage to career. We obsess over games like MASH, making fun of the crazy odds one another would receive, all the while knowing that it’s all just a silly game. There’s no way we’d only have the same amount of control over our lives as we would in a game of MASH. Media prepared us oh so well. Make good grades. Become popular. Work exceptionally hard at what you do. Pick a career a/o find a good man. Have lots of money. Nice house. 2.5 kids and a picket fence. All of it was achievable without stumbling blocks. Except reality hits and you realize it all hasn’t happened like that for you. What do you do when you find yourself in transition and it feels like you’re on the bottom of the totem pole? God, I don’t even need all the extra perks of life, I just want to make my contribution to the world and I can’t even do that!

Get off the Barbie shelf!

In fact get out of that aisle, out of that store! Society never tells us that T.V. life is plastic and that God doesn’t operate in accordance to the time lines we’ve created. So, we go from the extreme of banking on our perfect life plan to practically giving up our dreams when it doesn’t happen the way we’d planned it. Lady, I want to let you know that your dream is still valid! As a determined creature, you must make up in your mind that  God saying, “Not your way,” is not Him telling you, “No”, and therefore your disappointment will not make you stagnant!

    You ever remember being a kid and seeing your mom make a big cake or pie? As that sweet smells fills your nostrils, you tilt your head back a little, close your eyes and envision yourself indulging in that decadent desert. That feeling of euphoria comes over you as your mouth begins to water, and you set your sight toward that kitchen! You already know which tall glass you’re gonna pull out of the cabinet for your milk, to compliment that oh so tempting dessert. You practically run to the kitchen and ask, “Mom can I have just a little piece of cake?” Or if you’re just that bold you already have the knife in hand. Before the knife is able to meet the icing, you feel a firm grip stopping your hand. “No, you’ll spoil your dinner!”, exclaims your mother. “Oh, just a little piece, Mama?”, you rebuttal. “I said, No,” she says. You trudge back to your room in defeat.

    What in your life has caused you to trudge away from God’s plan for your life in defeat? If that little girl knew that her mom was making sure that she received the proper nutrients and strength to build her growing body rather then allowing her to skip that process and jump straight to the sweet finale, she’d be telling her mom, “Thank you, for not giving in to my will.” So often it feels as though, “No,” happens to us. It causes us to feel defeated. Whether we’re the product of many rejections after going for something, we’re sure God told us to go for. Or, we’ve experienced a spiritual and mental beating that makes us feel as though we’re no longer good enough for the sweet finale. We find ourselves asking God, “Why would You allow me to smell that sweet smell, to see myself eating that decadent dessert, if you knew you were just going to reject me? Or if You knew I wasn’t good enough to eat it?”

     Often times we’ll find that God never stamped an eternal, “No” on our dreams and desires. If He showed it to us then it’s possible. But what kind of Father would He be, if he allowed us to receive reward without the character, strength, or life skills to maintain it? Sure, I want my cake before dinner but if I’m allowed it, it will stunt my growth. And while it tastes so good for that moment, hours later I will be needing something to satisfy me for more than just a moment. Having dinner first is what brings validation to my having desert. What you’re experiencing now will bring validation to what you receive later. God loves you too much to just hand it to you. You’ve got to do some growing, learn how to navigate hardships, work for it even when it seems impossible.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

    Are we trying to get there, on our terms or His? Do we trust that He is still all-powerful and able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), when major obstacles come to throw us off? Are we seeking His Kingdom or are we looking to do things in a perfect, cookie cutter pattern the way it seems to be happening for those around us? This is how we prove we’re ready! You’re not counted out because of what hurt you, left you or happened for others but didn’t happen for you. As long as you have breath in your body, your dream is still valid, lady. Trust God enough to dream His way. Even the pitfalls were designed to give Him glory.

 Dear Lord, 

I ask that You be with your daughters today. Help us to be ladies of divine strength, not relying on our own selves. Give us the courage to throw out our plans, and fall full force into Your arms, knowing that You truly have the perfect plan. Help us to remember, that Your delay is not a denial. Let that not be cliche for us but let it be made real in each of our lives. I come against every negative voice or thought that would tell us that we’re not good enough, that we’re too broken, too damaged or too weak for the lives You’ve destined for us. Remind us that we’re only great through You. Remind us that You want our broken pieces and died for our frustrations. You resurrected with all victory so that we too could be victorious and rise out of everything that tried to damage us for good, everything that “counted us out”, everything that caused us to have the wool pulled over our eyes, everything that lied to us, or spoke down to us. Your love causes us to be greater than our mishaps, greater than our misfortune. Your love for us brings hope where we’ve been rejected because your love already planned for every seemingly negative experience and has us rising to the top. Help us to seek Your will and Your kingdom, not our own. Thank You for seeing us accomplishing the dreams You’ve given us even when we don’t. Give us Your eyes, a new tenacity, a boldness, strategy, ideas and hope. I pray You guide our way, like only you can. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

Signed,

No Longer on the Barbie Shelf

I’m A Proverbs Thirty-Not

This morning, I woke up with this great urgency. I felt there was something more that I should be doing…almost like a destiny call. I knew it was God and I knew why He was pulling at me so hard. Recent events had really diminished my confidence in my ability. Well, actually, all of those feelings had simply came to a head. For a long time, in the back of my mind, I had been afraid of myself. Afraid of what I could do or who I could be or that I just might be too brilliant for my own good. (You know you’ve been there 😉 ) There was a level of stepping up that my destiny was begging me to engage in but I never found myself sticking to it. I’d always build myself up to a certain point and then get distracted at the point of execution. Now that all of those negative thoughts that were once in the back of my head had came to the forefront, I found myself unwilling to try. What if I fail? What if I let others down? What if? What if? What if? Finally embracing my process, God’s voice and seeking help in this area, I’ve come to a crossroads between stepping out on faith and not caring about the what if’s and choosing to embrace my old mentality of being distracted by destiny snatching things like laziness, lust or mediocre execution because it’s what “scared me” was used to doing. I see, now, that even when you find yourself becoming less and less afraid, sometimes it takes some effort for your mentality to catch up to your new found “God-confidence”. Well, this morning as I was awoken with this big urgency, this question came up, “What kind of life are you living for your future children?” As a young lady, it may seem like a crazy question to have come up, but, I had this big epiphany. “Lo, you’re not a child anymore. You’re an adult. What you do today effects your tomorrow. What path are you laying out for your future children? When your kids one day ask you, “Mommy, what were you like or what where you doing at age 21,” will you be proud of your answer or filled with regret? Will Lauren today be someone that her kids could look up to? Will you, 10 years from now, look at the quality of life your children have and wish that you had given yourself a chance and stepped it up 10 years prior? Or better yet is the receiving of your future family, being held up by your current actions or lack there of?” I’m currently reading Sarah Jakes devotional book, “Colliding with Destiny” (which I suggest you all get. It’s powerful!) In today’s reading, she states “The true measure of a person is revealed when they have options.” How are you proving yourself to be?  Are you choosing a road of less frivolous pleasure and more effort or more pleasure and future regret? It doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy your life or the things you do. Actually that’s exactly what you should do. Live with reckless abandon in that you face the things God has placed deep inside you and conquer them, even if you have to do it afraid. Of course, this leads me to Proverbs 31. Do you know who are you in comparison to the so well revered Proverbs 31 woman? Many of us claim to be her but our actions and lifestyle seem to find her repulsing. Proverbs 31, believe it or not, is not written to women. It is a letter written to a young king by his mother, who so eloquently illustrates to him the type of woman that a king should have and desire. So she says to him, in Proverbs 31:3 AMP: ” Give not your strength to [loose] women, nor your ways to those who and that which ruin and destroy kings.” And then she follows up in verse 10, “A capable, intelligent, and [b]virtuous woman—who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls.” I’m not loose but am I capable? Do I exert myself to the capacity of my worth? Or do I dumb both down in order to fit into a societal norm? Do I allow fear to belittle my intelligence or extinguish my virtue?  Could following fear in my own life, in turn hinder and ruin a king?  What have I allowed to define my worth, my mistakes and past failures or the call of God on my life that not even all of hell could remove? It is possible that the effect a woman has on society, who is afraid of herself and therefore unwilling to step into her purpose,  is equal to that of a woman who is aware of who she is and not afraid to fail. They’re both dangerous, but one to the kingdom of darkness and the other to the world. The truth is, ladies, that we as women are some of the most incredible, beautiful, breathtaking creatures God has ever created. All of us. What I noticed in this verse was that it is not necessarily an absence of capacity, intelligence or virtue in our women, that make the proverbs 31 woman so rare. God created us all with those elements. We’re reflections of Him. However, a lady who is bold enough to activate and engage in those qualities is often hard to find. You ever see that one precious heart who always is looking to date WAAAAYY out of her playing field and you’re just like “Really Boo?”notcomplicated (Don’t even try to leave me hanging lol) Well, the truth is, her desire is correct. Queens were designed to compliment kings. However, God could design a woman for a  King, and make the desires of her heart for such and she still could forgo the responsibility necessary to fulfill that part of her destiny. One of the greatest realizations I’ve had in my coming of age is that I cannot justify the excuse of being a female for not becoming a woman, one who takes on responsibility with strength, grace and finesse. In other words, it is not enough for us to go through life as attractions, no more useful than a potted plant on a window sill, just because we’re girls. The strength in who we are as ladies is found as much in our femininity as in our capability. We offer more than just physical features and charm. We’re sources of substance and power. Intelligence, the working of our gifts and ultimately killing the game does not make us masculine or take away from our beauty. They are everything that is wonderful about being a lady. We find the truth of who we are by embracing and going after what scares us. So what are you building? Who were you destined to become? In what ways do the things you’ve always wanted to do deep down inside, reflect the God who created you? And in turn how will your family or future family benefit from those things? Does this mean, you’re living for your husband or kids? No, but a Proverbs 31 woman is cognizant that they may eventually play a part in her assignment on the earth. And ultimately, we’re just too good to sit pretty and afraid. Pretty is does not act out of fear. Pretty is bold, powerful and ready. We’ve got work to do ladies!

A Daily Prayer for Love

Dear God, I thank You for the grace You’ve bestowed upon me, especially in moments where I’ve settled for mediocrity in my life and did not require better of myself. I thank You for the gentleness of hand You’ve used in opening up my eyes. Help me to live a life worthy of my calling. I pray that the confidence I have in my God-given ability, personality, and essence come up to the level of the capacity you’ve designed in me. I know that my capacity is far beyond what I can see at this very moment. I thank You for surrounding me with people who see more than I can see in me and are willing to help pull me up and push me out of my comfort zones in order to live and accomplish my purpose. And when there is no one around, I thank You for giving me the courage to face my fears and push myself. I know that greater is synonymous with my destiny and therefore You are calling for everything in and everything around me to be greater as well. I believe that You are bringing relationships into my life that are without expectation, full of unconditional love, just wanting to be silly with me and willing to do the work to help me through the not so pretty stuff…a genuine source of love that is accepting and not shocked or phased by my flaws, insecurities and imperfections. I thank You for a love that really sees me and my heart for You. This is Your promise to me. So according to that, God, I ask that You would help me to be equally as compassionate, patient, and care free so that I’ll be ready when love comes and right for the love that is already present. Help me to reciprocate the love that You bring in my life and most importantly, give me the assurance to believe that I am worth this type of love. Help me to never neglect myself on behalf of others but let my treatment of others be a reflection of the good You’ve shown me to be to myself: fair, kind, gentle, patient, forgiving, and a positive source of strength to move forward and be better. I thank You for true love found in friendship, family, courtship/dating and above all You. Your love is what causes me to find true love in myself first. Thank You for Your Sacrifice, Your omniscience, Your omnipresence and Your constant action on my behalf. Thank You for having already provided the answers and made ways for my path before the foundation of the world. You are amazing. You are love. Amen.

MTTG: Image Driven

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“God I ask that You would forgive me for reducing myself down to such a small state. I know deep down inside that my future is far greater than what I see now. And no one will be able to get me there but me. At this point, I don’t know what I need. I don’t know how much You can help me if I’m unwilling to help myself but I know that I can’t do anything without You. Help me get to a place where I see me and not other people. Where I choose to be strong for me so that I can be strong for others. Give me that spark of hope that causes me to be determined to reach beyond how my flesh feels. Help me to not be so afraid. So lazy. So driven by my emotions when I have so much power. I’ve neglected me for so long. I’ve neglected the essence of who You’ve called me to be. I know how to build an image but I don’t know how to build a person. I know how to present perfection in a perfect little display but I don’t know how to cultivate wholeness in myself. So I keep running back to the things I can control. I can control how I present myself. I can go online shopping. I can pick out a new haircut to combat my hair falling out from stress. Create a whole new look. A whole new me. If I just start working out, I’ll look so fierce. But none of those things equate to me being healed. Yet and still, there are the things that I’ve run to. I run away from responsibility and straight into the arms of superficiality because I am afraid to fail. I’m afraid that if I try again it won’t last. I’m afraid that overcoming will be temporary and not permanent. I’m so stuck in what I feel my life is not supposed to be yet has become, that it seems impossible to be able to start over, forget the past and become a success. Whatever will grant me temporary satisfaction, an escape, that’s what I run to, instead of to You. I know that if I run to You, i’ll have to face my problems head on. If I run to You, it would require me to put in some effort, to trust the unknown, to run in the direction of my fears. If I run to You, I’ll have to stop feeling sorry for myself. There’s no way this could be over this fast. I feel as though I must endure every wave of emotion. But I’m no good in this state. I’m not of help to anyone and it feels like death inside. I am so lost. I don’t know if my dreams are valid anymore. I don’t feel worthy of anyone’s investment. I’m so unconvinced. Convince me God. I’m so fragile. The slightest things set me off balance and cause me to enter into the cycle again. I need stability.”  

 

    Instagram. Twit pics. Tumblr. Selfies. Our society has become so obsessed with pictures. On one hand there’s nothing wrong with these things, but recent events in my own life have caused me to ask the question, “What kind of ladies am I leading and impacting?” Have we reached a time in life where young women only aspire to an image or a facade but not to providing real influence? Why do we grind?

    I’ll, of course, start with myself. If you were to look in my phone now and go to my camera roll you would see that I have 4,784 pictures in my phone. Ridiculous, I know. The thing about me is that I’m a visual person. Always have been. For starters, I’m an art student. I’ve always been a creative, ever since I was a little girl. I always see the big picture first and then dig and strategize to find the smaller pieces that put that big picture all together. It’s a gift on one hand, and on the other it’s a big stumbling block. My mind operates like one big vision board. Before I got rid of them, those pictures used to be divided into albums like “Future Marriage”, “Lauren’s Style”, “Hair”, “Lauren’s Empire”, “Books”, “Future Home”, “Recipes” etc. I promise I could be a professional image consultant. As a brand architect professionally, I am all about building a full experience, a lifestyle, culture. In my head, I knew how things in my life were supposed to look, the feeling you should’ve gotten when being around or seeing me, the way everything was supposed to fit. This lifestyle I aspired to was thoroughly illustrated by these pictures that I found, whether they be on Instagram, a blog, from an article or a random web search. I knew what I wanted to look like. I knew what I wanted to be like.

    Success equaled this look, these outfits, this car, this type of influence, these relationships, etc. These are the things I hung on to. Not finding everyday success, but planning my future success. I honestly, felt they were things God wanted me to work towards. And it’s not to say that they weren’t but I began to seek things to feed my image versus God to feed my soul. It was all so…plastic. But I didn’t know! I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do. I’m a dreamer. I’m supposed to be inspired. But my way of dreaming left me empty. Always aspiring to be something and never actually being. I couldn’t see the things I’d already accomplished or the impact I had already made because I was so busy “aspiring”. The projects I was working on, like writing a book for instance, became about getting something out so others could see that I did something versus being about the people it was originally put on my heart to reach. I was so empty in the inside. I could feel that it was doing nothing for me. If I gained all these things, then what? Would I ever be satisfied? What would be the point?

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?

Finally, I started asking God questions like, what is my purpose? Where do I belong? I didn’t feel like I fit anywhere in any facet of my life. That’s the first time I stopped to acknowledge that I felt like an empty shell. Hollow. Nothing of substance. Nothing more than a smile and a pretty face. But what did I offer the world? What positivity was I giving? Just days later I had a bit of a crash collision with life. I guess God had enough. My foolishness, led to my search for more, which led me right at the feet of the Cross where I needed to be. The truth is, growing up in a first family, my life has always been about the look, always about the poise, always about this picture perfect representation. I kind of took that and ran with it. Letting go of a picture perfect display, or what my Christian therapist calls, “the porcelain doll” was like letting go of my identity, all that I’ve ever known. I tried though.

As things continued to spiral downward, I realized I had subconsciously come up with a plan to fix it. As an image driven person, I’ve always known how to make something work. I had developed a couple huge bald spots in the back of my head due to stress. After the initial horror of it all lol, I knew exactly what to do. I picked out a hair cut and planned other things to do to make myself look and feel better. But there I went again, leaning back on the presentation. I realized at that point, just like in the prayer above, I knew how to build an image but not a person. When would I realize that how I looked or appeared on the outside wouldn’t heal me? I decided to stop taking selfies, as trivial as it sounds, because I was not going to post any picture of myself until I’d dealt with myself and allowed God to make me whole. As I so eloquently put it to my best friend, I was joining #TeamNoEmptyShell lol

I realized that the social media presence and influence I so badly wanted was a fluke. I wasn’t going to participate in a life that exposed only my possessions, how I looked on my best days and what I did. I was no longer going to give myself over to narcissism. If women and young girls were influenced by or looked up to me in any way it would be because they identified with the pain I exposed and could see God as a healer and not because I had a picture perfect life. If I was going to promote myself, I was going to promote my insecurities and my failures right alongside the pretty stuff so that they could see Christ and not me. Does it mean, I’ll never post a selfie? Nope. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to post but not until I’m free. Does that mean I’ll never post about beauty or fashion or big dreams or accomplishing great things? Absolutely not! I’m the girliest girl you’ll ever meet, for one. I’ll always love those things. But my presence, whether physical or virtual will no longer be a facade. I’m not just the clothes I wear or my fave ruby woo lipstick. I’m a whole person. Flawed. And I have something more to offer than superficial aspirations. I have a story, a message, thoughts and ideas about the world. A lady knows a whole person is built by God and understands that she must be built from the inside out. I’m longer broadcasting outward beauty all the while hiding an inward mess. True beauty shines from the inside out and if any young lady learns anything from me, it will be that they can be imperfect and still be great because God’s strength is made perfect in their weaknesses. They can aspire but image is not substance. It’s all about what’s inside a lady that makes her beautiful. God loves her and can use her, the good, the bad and the gorgeous.

 

Married to the Grind and Filing for Divorce

So, I don’t have it all together and I’ve recently taken about two months off of school (the rest of the spring semester). How liberating and terrifying it is to say that! At least the I don’t have it all together part. I’m learning how to rely on God’s strength vs. man’s approval on a whole other realm and it’s…interesting. It hasn’t quite been a full week into this decision about school, so I’m still dealing with it in my head. It feels so weird! On one hand I feel like a weight has been lifted and on the other hand I’m all like…so, you’re not in school??

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Now, let’s be clear. I’m not dropping out of school. In fact, I’m registering for fall classes this week. I’m simply taking a break. I won’t go into all the reasons as to why but, there is a lot of inner work that needs to be done in the meantime. One of the (many) things that I’ve noticed for awhile is that I’ve had an extreme lack of passion. Not just in school but in quite a few endeavors. It wasn’t because I was doing things I wasn’t called to do or supposed to do. But, my intentions and my focus had become the breeding ground for consistent and reoccurring burnout. I wasn’t producing work because it made me feel good or even because it was what I was supposed to do. My main concern was the competition. I had created this pressure to always have to be better. Most of the time I was just trying to push hard to even be good enough. In my opinion, everyone was watching me and judging me. When I couldn’t perform well I was a failure, which was causing serious damage to my self esteem. This was life both inside and outside of the classroom.

   For a small example, if you follow me on Instagram (@laurencwhite_ ) you’ve noticed I’ve recently taken an unofficial break to as I said, “…find out more about what He’s (God) been saying about me.” This is a place I’ve so desperately needed to come back to. My typical habit would be to follow people I admire or people in industries I want to work with professionally in the future and just watch, study and dream. Everyone’s posting pictures of always being on their grind, working here, networking there, being invited to this event, hosting that event, getting a chance to work with so and so, etc. Then there were the kids in my program that seemed so connected and engulfed by this world I wasn’t apart of. I was feeding myself with so many things I felt I needed to be and to emulate in order to be successful. And while I’ve never posted anything fake on any social media outlet, there was something that was so in-genuine about my “working posts”. Furthermore, I was getting more likes from a selfie than a picture or post about something I was actually producing. As stupid as it sounds, it actually bothered me. It bothered me because I, a generally very private person, was putting myself and what I do or like out there for people to see. Truthfully, I’d probably never post anything I was doing ever anywhere, but I wanted a successful lifestyle brand that people flocked to just like the women that I admired. I was so concerned about living and presenting a life that others could be inspired by, that I never stopped to ask myself, “Forget people, are you living a life that you are inspired by? Who cares?” I was feeling shallow and empty. I was constantly experiencing the need to put myself in this most perfect display case for everyone to leave nice comments about, whether in the classroom or online or when I was working. I could only hear untruths. I couldn’t hear that I was worthy, qualified or that I had something of importance to give the world. I knew I had something in me but maybe if I worked hard enough people would be able to see it and I hadn’t worked hard enough yet.

    My most productive week would be the ones where my days were packed and I was constantly running and “doing” for 18-20 hours everyday. Boy, would I feel pumped. I’m doing it. I’m doing it! This is what success feels like! …And then I’d burn out. It wasn’t what success felt like. My question to God was never, “What do you think about this? Or me?”, unless it was ministry related. It was always, “Lord I screwed it up again. Save me!” Fear and insecurity were keeping me from making legitimate moves. I cared so much about what other people thought because I often didn’t feel qualified a/o I was trying too hard to try to prove that I was. It was paralyzing and the effects were becoming more extreme. I wanted so bad to perform well, that I couldn’t. I was afraid to start work. I was afraid to finish work. I often felt I’d lost before I even began. This mindset that I’d fed into since I was young, was breeding bouts of depression, anxiety and fear. And quite frankly I’m too cute and too happy for all of that. So, finally God just kind of allowed everything in my life to pause for a minute and I decided to take a break (not a vacation…I do have a plan).

    So, now I’m re-asking myself questions like, What does it feel like to be me? What are my clear-conscious, unadulterated, thoughts? What is my opinion? What are my ideas? Why and how are they important? What are my dreams and goals? What is my purpose? What message has God given me for the world, especially young women? What does God-bred confidence look like for a me as a young woman? I’m throwing out the idea of perfection, and just being plain honest. I’m allowing God and His Word to be my only source of validation and affirmation.

It’s so funny how you can think you’re super self-confident and transparent and God’s just like

Kanye West

Sooooo, what I’m learning thus far is,

  1. I am always a beacon of light, pointing people to Christ. This should be my foundation, my number one aspiration, the center of my brand and who I am. It requires a life consistently laid out in surrender to God. His is the only opinion about my life that matters.
  2. I am a life student. I should constantly be being stripped, being supplemented accordingly, learning and fine tuning.
  3. My life has to stop being about trying to fit a status quo. It never has.
  4. What looks right for me is not going to look right for or to everyone else and vice versa.  I’m having to learn to be ok with that…like my ever increasing graduation date lol
  5. This life of comparing and wanting what others have is not one I was called to live. God, what do You say about me? Who cares what other people have? What do I have?
  6. When I study and learn from others, my intention is not to duplicate or emulate their lifestyle a/o what they physically produce. Comparison is the thief of joy…literally. I still have my own destiny and purpose. My objective is to study and be inspired by a mindset that cultivates individuality, excellence and in my case dependence on God.
  7. There’s a level of excellence that my capacity and potential demand. In order to operate in that excellence, I’ve got to know who God has called me to be, find my lane and stay in it. A lane is not like a box. A box is small and stationary and can only fit but so many things. A lane is open and can take you anywhere for however long God has designed. Staying in your lane keeps you from head on collisions because no matter where it takes you, you’re always where you’re supposed to be.
  8. God is not requiring me to be strong in my strength. A lot of the time my strength is not there or enough. He simply wants me to trust Him and rely on His strength. That way, we can always be moving forward.

And finally some good ole scriptures:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

“To whom much is given, much is required.”  (“Don’t throw away the gift. Meet the requirement”-Bishop TD Jakes)

John 17:15-18 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

2 Corinthians 12:9

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.

My prayer for you reading is that if you’re experiencing life on God’s terms and not your own, that you embrace it. Throw out the need for other people’s opinions or approval if you know you’re in a space that is God ordained. JUST LIVE and BE instead of always trying to do and grind and show off. Who cares? And if they do care, unless they “know the plans they have for you” and “knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb” then why should you care? Learn to seek and embrace the path God has for you and begin to see you and what He’s placed inside you the way He sees it.

Let’s lift each other up in prayer!

Love,

Confessions Of A Lady

You or Me

Love this prayer by one of my dearest and most beautiful friends. I’m sure it’s one that will tug on the chords of all of your hearts, whether you’ve been in the midst of this prayer before or find these words to be the sentiments of your heart now. A true confession from a lady ❤

The Overcomer

Lord,
I need your discernment to be able to understand when to go and when not to. What I’m learning is that my insecurities often dictate what moves I make. That means sometimes I have the tendency to put myself back into situations that I have removed myself from. I call myself doing it because of my personality or because I really am a nice person. What I think it really is is my inability to be separate. My insecurities and self-esteem keep me from having the best. I’d rather make excuses and be complacent in the place that I’m in rather than do the hard work to allow you to give me the best. So now I am sitting here, understanding first that I am a complete mess. No matter how good of a mask or cover I put on, the fact still remains that I am totally broken…

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An Open Letter: The Ball Is Always In My Court

It took awhile but I was ok. I was ok right up until you showed back up. I was ok until I saw that you noticed me again. Now I’m sitting here trying to convince myself…remind myself that  I wouldn’t be happy with you. You unlocked my mind and my intelligence like no other guy had done before. You unlocked my emotions in the most delicate and sweetest of ways. It was the type of connection I’d prayed and only dreamt about…everything I thought I’d ever wanted yet wasn’t seeking out. It was beautiful. Even still, I have to remind myself that you never unlocked my spirit. You were never able to speak to the God in me. That probably would’ve never happened.     You tapped into lust but the steps to love were overlooked. I would’ve never had all of you. I was gaining a good portion. I had a good foot in the door. But I was worth much more than the parameters you were offering. As much as I so arrogantly would like to think that you would’ve picked me, and only me, I was too big to even take that risk. I was worth more than even the possibility of becoming just another Mary Jane Paul or Olivia Pope. Beautiful. Smart. Worthy of a high level career. Worthy of all her own assets. But not worthy of all of a man. I refused. And so in the end I made sure I hurt myself before you hurt me. I was worth my own pain. You were not.     I’m not angry. If I’m frustrated and bitter at times it’s because I want to have my cake and eat it too. But these words are not out of bitterness or anger. In fact the strangest thing happened. As I sought God to begin the work of letting you go in my heart, I found deeper purpose. It resurrected something in me that had never been fully uncovered. I somehow found the validation to tell my stories. Being obedient caused me to see my situation in a different light. Someone else needed to know how much it hurt for me to deny myself. They needed to know that although I was a minister and a Sunday school teacher I still didn’t get it right all the time. I still had some of the same fears, regrets and challenges they do. So, I began challenging myself and other women to let go of everything that was holding us back from being whole, free, purpose-led women. Then, I gave myself permission to expose the deepest parts of me, to share my confessions. It’s funny how our purpose is often birthed out of what hurts us. I was just grateful that, this time, it was more of my flesh that was broken than my spirit.                  Sometimes God will present someone with exactly what they want when they least expect it but with a couple very necessary pieces missing to see whether we’ll honor Him or settle. Yes, you have some qualities I still want in a man and have written down. I still want that connection. I still want that drive. I still want that intelligence and someone with the ambition to be better. I still want the romance and tender spirit. But I need a man who loves and honors God with his life more than any of those things. I had to prove that to both God and myself. I learned, as I’ve experienced time and time again, that sacrificing what you want most for what you need most often feels HORRIBLE! Probably one of the most heart wrenching situations one could go through. Yet, I strongly believe that the pain of letting go is in no way comparable to the suffering that comes from temporary thrill. And most importantly, I learned more than ever before that I was actually worth the pain of saying “no” ….saying no to me and everyone, thing or situation that would somehow depreciate my worth and steal me from my destiny. God presented me with the choice to back away. His spirit convicted me and reminded me of who I was, not so I could be punished or put in a box, but because He knew I was worth it. In fact, if there is any one being, in all of time, who understood the pain of sacrificing much for something worth more, it was God. He placed Himself on the cross through His Son, and experienced the worst kind of death in my stead because He thought I was worth it.

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

    He reminded me that the ball was always in my court, but maybe not in the way I’d originally thought. I was a bad chick but it wasn’t because of how I looked, dressed or walked. It wasn’t because I thought I could pull any man I wanted, even if he belonged to someone else or because I had the power to potentially put another sister down for a man. Those things didn’t appreciate my value. They depreciated it. Settling made me nothing. Falling for a guy who had no relationship with Christ, who wasn’t led by His spirit and didn’t share my spiritual convictions didn’t empower me. No, I was bad because I was Boldly Affirmed by the Divine. Christ’s divinity, sovereignty and unconditional love is what made me whole. It confirmed and affirmed my beauty and provided the ultimate standard for my life. So, yeah, every once and awhile I feel that pain in my chest and have to keep my hands off the phone, or remember not to look up your social media profiles “just to see how you’re doing.” But then God reminds me that I’m worth the pain of letting go and letting Him complete His perfect work in my life. It goes beyond being prepared for the man He does have for me. I know now that every time I pass the pop quiz, or even the times I haven’t but I’ve allowed God to heal and restore me, with every confession I’m not only freeing me, I’m freeing someone else. So thank you 🙂

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
 
Signed,    
Confessions of A Lady
iambad