Do things seem a little more unhinged than usual to you? Between the ongoing barrage of COVID-19 variants to the political polarization to the ticking clock of a cooking environment to international unrest, the derangement certainly feels real. What are we supposed to do when the headlines all look so bad?
RELEVANT spoke with Sarah Jakes Roberts, author of books like Lost and Found, Don’t Settle for Safe and her most recent book Woman Evolve. She spoke on the Church’s responsibility to a world in upheaval, her advice for maintaining a sense of calm despite the storm and her message both to women and what she wishes more Christian men understood about women.
This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
RELEVANT: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Sarah: Oh, thank you, my pleasure. Thank you for having me on.
How have you been doing in this chaotic, kind of fraught era?
We have found that our greatest strength and strategy in this season is to stop grieving for what used to be and to start assessing what is now. And literally, that means each present moment.
So we wake up each day and we’re like, “Give us this day, our daily bread, give us what we need for today. The grace we need, the patience we need, the peace that we need for today.” And then we wake up the next day and do that again.
So you’d say if you’re having trouble seeing things to be grateful for right now in your own life, maybe start creating some of new things.
Absolutely. I have found that gratitude isn’t necessarily in a moment that is as big as what we’re facing, but rather the collective small things that lead us to that moment. So little things that we maybe take for granted, like waking up in the morning to have a roof over our heads, going into a place to work, that there are still many things that are functioning in our life.
And the culmination of all of those things generally outweigh that enormous issued that are still there, still powerful, but it’s also counteracted by what is working well.
Do you have any advice for people who are feeling like they’re suffering with things like depression, or feeling things like anxiety, mentally, emotionally — basically they’re just not doing well?
Definitely. The first thing I want to say is that you are not alone. I know sometimes we don’t really know what to do with this persistent feeling of loneliness, but I want to let you know that you aren’t alone.
The second thing that I want you to do is to take it very seriously. I don’t want you to wait and wait for the moment to pass. Really see yourself as valuable enough to enact what is necessary. There’s lots of therapy that you can do. Therapists have transitioned their practices to being able to do it online, so that you have connection and support there. We’ve got small groups at our church, small groups that are for people all over the world, getting connected with other people.
I don’t want you to feel shame because of what you’re going through. I really want you to see it as you giving yourself permission to be human. And when you give yourself permission to be human, you allow other people to serve you in the ways that you need it the most. Sometimes we want God to intervene and God intervenes through people.
Can you talk a little about Woman Evolve?
Sure. For the last couple of years, I was studying Eve. I was praying with God about Eve and God really revealed to me that in Genesis 3: 15, when He talks about the Fall, He also inserts what we know is the foreshadowing of Jesus Christ and how Eve, in all of her brokenness and all of her mistakes, that God still had a place for her in his divine plan.
When we throw away Eve, we throw away the promise of Jesus. I’ve really been trying to get women to recognize that. It’s about reconciling the cost of womanhood and recognizing that when it’s all reconciled, that finished product is God’s grace and anointing. where we surrender our lives over to Him. So [Woman Evolve] is really a step-by-step manual of meeting any woman where she is, but also challenging and pushing her to move to that next dimension of who God always knew she could be, even when she may be had an Eve moment.
I know it’s a little unusual to talk to a guy about your upcoming book for women and I appreciate you being willing to do that. So for the guys listening to this, do you have any advice about some of the ways that you see men in the Church tend to go wrong and how they treat their sisters in Christ?
I do. One of the things that I have seen over and over again is I’ve seen men in leadership positions talk to women about how they’re supposed to act and how they’re supposed to be showing up. And I think as it has created so much pressure on women to act and perform a certain way. But I feel like we see less accountability when it comes to men, talking to men about how they’re supposed to show up.
What I’m afraid of happening is that we’re going to have women who commit to growing and evolving and challenging themselves and making hard decisions to produce greater glory, but we’re going to have men who have never had to have that challenge. My fear is that we’re going to continue to raise up women, but that we’re going to leave men to stay the same. I think men in leadership should balance those messages that we often direct to women with having conversations that really challenge men as well, so that we can continue to be equally yoked.
As we continue to live through uneven times, what is your hope for Christians in this new normal?
At the end of the day, what matters more than our sanctuaries or our megachurches or our productions and singers and lights and LED screens is the anointing. At the end of the day, it is our anointing that will break the yoke. I really feel like we have to spend more time awakening people, not just to being mesmerized by our anointing, but activating their own anointings.
What we were able to do in response to the pandemic is to really teach each and every person how powerful the role they play is in stopping the spread of the virus was, right? I think that same thing can be related to us as Kingdom kids. The responsibility that each of us have in taking up space for the Kingdom so that we can continue to spread the good news of Jesus and to stop the spread of racism and darkness and oppression and hatred.
I feel like when we empower other people to do that, that it is our anointing that is being spread.[Woman Evolve is available now.]