MADE by Ashley White
With the arrival of her new book, Don’t Settle For Safe, Sarah Jakes Roberts talks candidly about stepping out of her comfort zone and into her destiny in this exclusive interview with MADE.
MADE: Congratulations on your new book! How are you feeling right now?
SJR: I’m excited! You put a lot of hard work in the book, thought and passion, but you never know if it’s going to really resonate with people until the book comes out. So, getting to hear that it’s in people hands and they’ve begun to read through it and it’s blessing them, it’s really exciting.
MADE: What does safe look and feel like, and why do we become so comfortable with staying in our comfort zone?
SJR: I believe we start to become comfortable with being safe after we’ve experienced something that was traumatic to us emotionally—whether that is in our past or even within our own mind. After those experiences, we start settling and we ask our dreams to sit around that hurt, to sit around that pain because it feels safe. The illusion is if we do it this way, we won’t get hurt again. If I swear off love, if I never apply to school again, if I don’t start the business, I won’t have to feel that rejection again.
But it’s such a false reality because regardless of what age or stage you are in life, what you’ve experienced or what success you may have, there is no such thing as safe. Even when we live in those little boxes, thinking that we’re protecting ourselves, trouble still finds its way inside, hurt still finds its way inside. I wrote Don’t Settle For Safe to really demystify this notion that if life would have gone this way or that way, then we would be happy. And, instead helping people to realize that you can take whatever’s happened to you and channel that into the momentum necessary to manifest what God has placed down on the inside.
MADE: You’ve always been very transparent about your past. Whether it’s about becoming a teen mom, and getting married young and divorced in your early twenties. What was the turning point for you? How did you start doing the work?
SJR: It was so gradual. I think I spent a lot of energy trying to create a life that I thought people would approve. My turning point came when I realized that people were going to have something to say regardless, and that I could create a life that everyone approved of and still be miserable on the inside. Or I could choose to create a life that made me feel peace, that made me understand the revelation of who God was and then allow people’s expectations to rise or fall to that level. I had to undo all of these things that I did for validation and approval. In the process of doing that, I realized that I was stronger than I thought I was.
People may talk one day, but then they’re on to something different the next day. It really taught me that my biggest fear was people’s opinions and that’s no way to live life at all.
MADE: What was the hardest lesson you learned about yourself during that time?
SJR: Hmm. Girl, how long is this interview? (laughs) I think the hardest lesson I learned during that time is losing myself. Really becoming someone that I didn’t love anymore or that I didn’t like. I went crazy and I was ashamed of that. I realized that in the process of trying to have a life that received validation from other people, that I had given my power away and I was fighting anyone who abused it. I had to really learn to take the power back by not allowing my character to be dictated by other people’s actions.
But it was difficult because I thought everything was about reaction. You’re not going to play me, you’re not going to get over me, but then I realized I was letting what they did control me. You may try to play me, but you really played yourself because I’m going to keep it pushing. Really changing that mindset helped me so much.
MADE: When did you become comfortable with your voice and telling your story?
SJR: It’s been a process. Sometimes I’ll hear it and it’s like, that’s not exactly my highlight reel. I became more and more comfortable when I realized it was helping people. When we make life about us, it’s so small. But, when we make it about serving people, about helping someone else recognize that they aren’t alone, you realize that it’s so much bigger than you. The moment that someone is like, “That’s my story too and when you got up there you really helped me out and I realized that I wasn’t alone,” I get more comfortable each and every time.
MADE: You’re happily married, you have a beautiful blended family, you’re on your third book and you’re really walking in your destiny. How do maintain all of that?
SJR: I’ve learned to ask for help after being overwhelmed. I learned who I am not. We can get so caught up in balancing all these different roles, that we start to feel like, “I represent something,” and we don’t always represent something to the best of our ability. I had to realize that I’m not going to be for everyone and not everyone will understand my message or the way I that I speak, the way that I dress or the way that my husband and I love on each other. I have to rest in authentically being me. That means asking for help when I need to or that means saying no when I must. When it’s time for me to be in whatever role that I’m in, I’m going to bring all of myself into that moment. It’s a process and I’m still learning and growing and sharing what I learn along the way. It’s important to me that I maintain who I am at my core.
MADE: What’s the main thing you want readers to take away from this book?
SJR: I really want people to take away from this book that they don’t have to be afraid to live out loud. That even if you’ve been hurt in the past, even if you’re confused about who you’re supposed to become, there’s a plan for your life. If you just took a breath, that means God is not finished with you. I would encourage them to really pick up this book to understand who they are and to look back over their life and see that they have a track record of surviving and coming out on the other side. Together in this book, we’re going to work through all those different experiences to really show and point you in the direction that God has for you.
Stay tuned for the second half of this interview with Sarah Jakes Roberts in the upcoming issue of MADE.