Keeping Up With Sarah Jakes Roberts
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because changes comes in all kinds of packages.
By Isabelle Lee
Not only is Sarah Jakes Roberts a five-time book author with her latest book, Woman Evolve: Break Up With Your Fears and Revolutionize Your Life, coming out April 6, she is a podcaster, pastor, wife and mother to boot. This week on The Carlos Watson Show, join her to discuss her journey from preacher’s daughter to modern-day mogul. You can find excerpts below or listen to the full interview on the show’s podcast feed.
Tougher Than Getting Pregnant at 13?
Carlos Watson: Where did you go from there? Because I read that you ended up top 10% in your high school. You went on to college, married an NFL player. Did you somehow manage to get things on a track that felt right and felt good and felt healthy? Or where did you go from there?
Sarah Jakes Roberts: No, I hit the ground running. I graduated high school early. I immediately enrolled in college, the summer programs. I did freshman year, 15 hours, fall 15 hours. I did the whole thing and it looked really good on the outside and made for a great bio, but because I never dealt with the emotions and the shame and the depression, I just hit the ground running. All of that came crashing down. The summer of my sophomore year, I dropped completely out of school. There was one statistics class that I could not beat. I tried over and over again. Now to my credit, they ended up putting a prerequisite for that class the year after I dropped out because I think so many people fail. But when you’re the one that’s failing, you’re not worried about other people.
I wanted to be an accountant. And because I failed that class, I knew I wasn’t going to become an accountant. And I felt like, “I’m trying, but it’s not going to work.” I dropped out of school. From there, I was in a relationship, that relationship was toxic, but it was all that I had in that moment. And I hung onto that toxic relationship. Because I knew me dropping out wasn’t going to make my parents super happy. I started waitressing at a strip club. That person that I was with ended up getting drafted in the NFL, but still the relationship, very toxic. And so it wasn’t until I stopped trying to be someone who overcame teen pregnancy and chose to be someone who got pregnant as a teenager, but still believed that there was better for themselves that I really saw my life begin to shift.
Heading Toward Healing
Watson: Who helped you in that journey? Because I assume it wasn’t just you by yourself.
Jakes Roberts: My family has been incredibly supportive throughout my entire process. They believed in me in a way that I didn’t believe in myself. Because it doesn’t matter how much faith is around you. If the faith doesn’t get in you, then it doesn’t help to move your life forward. So I think their consistency certainly played a role in it.
Another thing that really helps me is I had had this breaking point, but I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I was going to come out of it. I just came to this point where I said, “Something’s got to change.” And I felt like for people to even come to that point takes courage, because it takes us being transparent enough to say to ourselves, “I’m not content with how my life is functioning right now.”
I was living in this space where I knew something had to change still in the toxic marriage, still having to work out things with the kids, but I just knew something had to change.
And then my mom has this woman’s program as a part of our ministry in Dallas. She had someone who worked in it in an administrative capacity ended up leaving. So she asked me would I step in and help her. So I stepped in and I helped her. I was just doing things behind the scenes, but part of it was seeing other women pick up the pieces of their lives and take on wisdom and glean from other women to become better.
There was something about being a facilitator for their evolution that made me wonder what would happen if I stopped cheering everyone else on, to dig within my own soul. So I think what helped me more than even maybe the consistency of my parents, was seeing people who didn’t mind starting from scratch to see what they could build and what they could bake, if I can take that analogy even further. What they could bake with what they had leftover. And that is what motivated me to look at my own ingredients and say, “OK, this is what I’ve got. Now God, what can you do with this?”
Love in Her Life and Book
Watson: Now Sarah, I’m a romantic. So I’m always asking people on this show, what’s the best thing you’ve learned about love in this life? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about love and romance?
Jakes Roberts: My husband is my favorite love story that I’ve ever experienced. I grew up watching all of the rom-coms and all of the R&B songs. And yet it felt like something that was very fleeting, something that would end in three minutes and 30 seconds, and I think I had experiences that prove that it wasn’t real and that it wasn’t steady. And yet my husband came into my life and became evidence to me that it can stay and grow and be so fun through every minute. So I think the greatest lesson that I have learned about love is that it’s real. It’s real.
I know that sounds so silly because we all know that it’s real, but I guess those moments where we look at couples or movies or songs and say, “I want to feel that way, does it really exist?” I think the simplest truth that I can offer is that it’s real. And I feel so blessed and fortunate that I get to go to sleep with my best friend and wake up with my husband every single morning.
Watson: Sarah, talk to me a little bit though about what you say, because in your church I’m sure there are lots of men and women, but particularly women that come to you and haven’t found that love that they would like to find. And that’s a tough thing, that’s a difficult thing. I’m sure it’s true for friends of yours, for family members of yours. What do you say?
Jakes Roberts: One of the things that I try to tell people over and over again is that the way I feel about my husband is how I learned to feel about myself. That after it’s been in so many years, tormented by shame and regret and wondering if I was worthy and wondering if I had what it took, that I came to a place where seeing myself made me smile, when hearing my own story made me light up.
So I try to encourage them to focus on the love story that only has them in it right now, and then I also try to tell them, a lot of times we have this vision of our life: “I want to learn Italian, I want to travel the world, I want to do this, I want to do that.” But we put that on pause because our primary focus is “I want a relationship.”
So I try to tell them to move that over to the side right now and focus on that love that you have for life, and that love that you have for who you want to become. And in the process of me doing that, that’s how I found my partner. At the end of the day, you want to be in a relationship with someone who’s moving at the same pace as you are. So if you’re stuck … then you’re not going to find that person who wants to move and love and live in that space that you envision for yourself.
So start living out the vision you have for yourself, fall in love with who you are and be so surprised that someone shows up that you wonder whether or not you want to give up this life that you love to build a life with someone else.
Watson: And I just wanted to hear from you what you feel like you’ve learned about how to dream fearlessly.
Jakes Roberts: What I have learned about dreaming fearlessly I think really happened with this Woman Evolve revelation that I received. Because up until then … something happens when you begin telling your story. People start taking notice, but then they also start trying to make you fit into this box. And they’re like, “You should stay in this circle. You should stay in this speaking arena. You should write this type of book.” And I wanted to wait until I had something that I knew came from God.
When I got this revelation, God gave me a vision that I felt like was worthy of laying my life down for, sacrificing my time and my family for, because everything has sacrifice connected to it. And yet I also felt like that the generations could benefit from what God had told me.
So when we talk about dreaming fearlessly, for me, it’s connecting where I am and what my dream is to the generation. If you’re just dreaming about how you want your life to look, I think your dream is too small. One of the things that I challenge people to do, even in the book, is to take that dream that you have for your present, but connect it to how it will affect the generations. When we dream fearlessly, we do so with the next generations in mind.
When Martin Luther King Jr. gave his incredible speech, he said, point-blank, period, “This is not just about me. I have a dream for my children.” And I don’t think we have a dream that is worth losing the anxiety, losing the depression, losing the shame for, unless it’s going to affect the generations. So a dream that’s bigger than you is the only dream worthy of resisting fear and doing it any way for.
- Isabelle Lee, OZY Author Contact Isabelle Lee