Inspiring, uplifting, and empowering are a few of the emotions I experienced after speaking with Sarah Jakes Roberts. Few carry the magnitude of rejuvenating your spirit, filling your heart with hope while penetrating your mind with a renewed sense of optimism in such a limited time but in such a large capacity. As she continues to leave her mark on the world, whether through ministering to millions, authoring a New York Times bestseller, or as a motivational speaker, encouraging women to do the soul work needed to live a purpose-driven, fulfilled life, her tremendous impact is undeniable.
As a wife, mother, businesswoman, media personality, and the list goes on, the mom of six wears many hats—a common theme for most women. When asked what keeps her grounded, she insists, "At the end of the day, I think it's difficult to really express sometimes. People only see me as this woman who ministers and has the books and the businesses, but for the most part, my day-to-day is probably not much different than most people's. Of course, I have these incredible moments where I receive accolades and accomplishments due to my work. But I feel like my day-to-day life, family, friends, and getting to work with my team keeps me grounded."
Through my conversation with the 32-year-old and in listening to her many online sermons, it's abundantly clear just how important her role is in having continued conversations for healing wounds and trauma both individually and collectively within our communities. Below, Sarah Jakes Roberts discusses turning her trials into triumphs, pain into purpose, the importance of parenting our inner child, and her latest release,Woman Evolve.
Dontaira Terrell: What is one takeaway you hope readers gain when they pick up a copy of your latest book, Woman Evolve?
Sarah Jakes Roberts: I pray that women feel seen. They feel comforted, and they feel understood. But they also feel this swelling of hope and redemption coming back into the areas of their lives where they once felt crippled or even broken.
DT: You've been vocal that at 23-years-old, you almost allowed your journey as a woman battling insecurity, low self-esteem, and depression to define you. Looking back, if you could speak with 23-year-old Sarah, what would you say to her?
SJR: I would tell that 23-year-old who is emerging into what it means to really be a woman who wears her scars that you can step into womanhood and into confidence knowing that your past doesn't define you, but that your past can fuel you. Don't throw your past away altogether. Dare to do the work of allowing it to funnel through your wisdom, to funnel through your heart, your mind, and your spirit so that it can become the fuel that helps you to navigate the future that's ahead of you.
DT: Can you offer a piece of advice for women who are currently struggling with the crippling effects of fear, depression, anxiety, or loneliness?
SJR: I think acknowledgement is so powerful. Many of us think because we're still functioning, still posting and showing up to work, that it's not actually crippling us. But the fact that it's even present within our mind means it is changing how we show up in life. That word crippling; if you think about it, it doesn't change your ability to show up. It just changes how you show up. I believe every woman has an opportunity to take inventory of how she's walking in the world to determine whether or not there was a moment when life has crippled her. From that place of acknowledgment, you should ask yourself, 'Do I want to spend the rest of my life crippled in this way?'
Afraid of love, afraid to pursue the dream, afraid to have friendships, and dare to bet on myself. If that is not what I want for myself, then I have to do the work of not just pushing past it but truly dissect the thoughts in the sphere—the thoughts connected with these fears and introduce new thoughts connected to those moments.
Scripture talks about being transformed by the renewing of your mind. Transformation is possible for us, but we have to be willing to take inventory of our minds. Sometimes therapy can do that. Sometimes a good sermon and some worship music can help you do that, but to see yourself as a priority and to determine that walking with your head up high without being crippled is one of the most powerful things at any moment.
DT: In terms of internal healing, what type of soul work did you do to get to this current state of abundance, spiritual growth, and mental and emotional wellness?
SJR: Oh, girl, listen! When I first got pregnant, I felt everything at one time — shame, grief, and depression. I know that was part of the reason why I ended up in toxic relationships. To really get underneath the haze of what I was walking through life with, I had to ask myself questions, like, 'How are you doing?' I gave myself space to really respond, which is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.
There were moments where I was experiencing extreme happiness and joy but couldn't connect it because I wasn't connected with myself. Once you recognize how you are connected with yourself, it is the next step to doing some of that soul work. I try to break it down in the book because it is important that we take the time to clean up our souls.
DT: Often, we evolve into adulthood or womanhood and neglect our inner child. What types of conversations should we have with ourselves to befriend or channel that inner child?
SJR: Parenting ourselves is very powerful. Mary J. Blige talks about how she didn't have children because she needed to parent the little girl inside of her. You could have incredible parents, parents who weren't as present as you needed them to be or come from broken environments; any way you look at it, all of us still come away from childhood with this idea of maybe I wish someone would have shown me or taught me this.
It's not too late for you to go back within the recesses of your heart and experiences and still parent or coach that little child on the inside. I have moments as a woman thriving in my purpose, and someone commends me for something I'm doing. Instead of allowing them to talk to the woman standing in that moment, I allow those words to penetrate the soul of the 13-year-old girl who didn't think she would have any worth or value. There are opportunities from people around us, where they are giving us the words we need to hear for our spirit, but we're so guarded in our lives that it doesn't penetrate.
DT: What do you believe are three of the most common misconceptions women sometimes allow to hold them back in pursuit of being the best version of themselves?
- No one else is doing it.
- I don't know what I'm doing.
- I can't sustain it.
We're all just figuring it out along the way, but that's where our faith plays a major role. I preached this message once about if you start it, God will finish it. You are not supposed to have it all figured out right now. All you are supposed to have is enough to get it started. Each day, God's going to give you daily bread to help you make it into the next day. Find comfort in the truth, that God will provide you with what you need when you need it. You don't have to stock up on strength, stock up on confidence, or stock up on knowledge for the entire journey. You just need enough to get started today.