“You can be lost in the pews, and found in the world or found in the pews and lost in the world and you’re still not outside of God’s grace.” –Sarah Jakes Roberts
Wow! So I’m sitting here watching Bishop T.D. Jakes’ daughter Sarah Jakes and, well, I gotta tell the whole story to show how God makes things come full circle. I moved to L.A. in February and had been visiting various churches when I met a young woman who invited me to her church. I went with her to One Church International on LaBrea Ave. in West Hollywood a couple of times while still hopping around to visit others that I had enjoyed. A college friend came to visit and asked me if I had heard of One Church and I’m like, “Yeah! I’ve been there a few times.” She told me about the leader of the church Pastor Touré Roberts and how he recently married Bishop T.D. Jakes’ daughter. I was like “Ohhhh, I’ve been going there and heard this woman speak and didn’t realize who she was but she does look just like her mother when you think about it.” But that has nothing to do with my story so I digress.
I’d been consistent in attending church as well as making reading my Word and praying my first priority in the morning, but I was starting to feel distant from God. I had hit a rough patch in this whole “pick up, leave your job, and move across country” ordeal and did what any 20-something year-old does to cheer herself up. I went to Facebook to reminisce on old pictures and videos that reminded me of good times and all of the great experiences God had provided me. I liked a video of mine dancing to a Beyoncé song, which of course caused the church folk to tense up. I received an inbox message from a Pastor advising me to be careful of how I present myself, which put me in an even deeper rut. Here is little, ol’ quiet Renee, who has always portrayed herself to be Ms. Goody Two Shoes (although I am far from it); the girl who only really uses Facebook to post her blog entries, many of which are Mid-Week Inspirations and the one thing this pastor chooses to point out is a video of me having a good time with my friends.
It was at that point that I realized that something was missing in my life. I second-guessed myself thinking, “Well maybe I am living wrong and this is God’s way of telling me.” People talk about the microscope that Pastor’s Kids live under and I could not even imagine what that must feel like because just growing up in church and presenting myself as a believer while still wanting to be young and have fun has been such a difficult task.
So I decided that while reading the Word, praying, and writing down what I’m grateful for each morning was all fine and dandy, it had become more of a chore for me than quality time spent with my Father. I decided I needed something more real.
I had stopped visiting One Church because it’s a black church and I hate to say it but over the years black churches are where I experienced the most judgment, the most pulling of teeth in ministry, and just flat out phoniness. It didn’t help that this particular church was full of young entertainers (singers, actors, etc.) so I’m thinking this will be more like a fashion/talent show. I decided that multi-cultural churches were the most carefree. But God led me there on a Wednesday night for Bible study and my mindset has been transformed ever since. I had to make some adjustments to my schedule to make Bible study and when God worked it all out, I knew that this is where I was supposed to be. Pastor Touré spoke on leaving others behind to follow God’s assignment and when I tell you everything he said was so…on…point. The day before, God led me to reach out to a woman from a small group I was a part of called “Ladies Who Lunch” at my previous church in Virginia. It’s amazing how God works because God had told her to call me at the exact same moment that I sent her an email. Things were coming into alignment.
So this morning I went for a run, came home and made a protein shake and turned on my Roku tv. I had snapped myself out of another rut because of something that fell through and decided to stay motivated with some positive teaching. I downloaded both Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes’ channels some time ago and am usually more apt to follow Joyce’s because I just love her style. But something made me click out of Joyce Meyer and onto T.D. Jakes. I could not find a full sermon but found Sarah Jakes’ webisodes. Ahhhhh! I had been hearing this woman speak at church, not realizing the story behind her words. I watched and felt captivated by her honesty.
Last year, at 25 she released a book called Lost & Found (this title has even more meaning in my life that I will disclose at another time) talking about exactly that. She, Bishop T.D. Jakes’ daughter, became pregnant and birthed a child at 14, married at 19, and divorced after her husband got another woman pregnant. Now she tells the story of breaking free from bondage, raising her two children, and now even finding new love. She is a soft-spoken, laid back, young woman of God who speaks in large arenas with such eloquence and poise. This stood out to me as well.
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love Necole Kane from NecoleBitchie.com because she has accomplished so much but you can tell she is timid and nervous when she is in front of a microphone. I remember at Towson University working at the school store and helping a lady find a book. She asked my major and I told her Journalism and she said something to the effect of, “Oh you’re going to be a quiet journalist.” She didn’t mean it harshly but her words always stuck with me. I hated that I got nervous in front of people I didn’t know and tried so hard to break free of my timidity. And those who have known me since a little girl know that I have come a long, long way from the child who would not so much as even say hello to someone I did not know. But I longed to be the person who could just walk into any room and own it.
Now after seeing women just like me change lives, I learned that I am who God made me. My quietness has allowed me to be trusted by those who don’t usually trust. People have been drawn to my spirit, an aura that I did not know I had. God has blessed me with discernment and an ability to guard my tongue when many would ramble. I am no longer ashamed of who I am but very grateful because God always places me where I need to be and allows me to impact the people He needs me to.
All of this may not seem like it has anything to do with anything for you but for me it’s everything. I am learning that my experiences make me greater. My mess-ups make me wiser and my failures make me stronger. I am more focused and clear-headed than I’ve been in my entire 28 years here on earth and for that I am grateful; grateful for the process and the continued journey ahead of me. I now know the importance of accepting me and growing in the areas where I need to grow by nourishing my weaknesses with the strengths that I am able to access.
-Renée Gibson Twitter: disclosednative IG: ms_disclosednative