Everyone has experiences in their lives that stop them in their tracks and become burdens they carry with them everywhere they go. No one knows this better than Sarah Jakes Roberts.
Pregnant at fourteen, married by nineteen, divorced by twenty-two, and all while under the intense spotlight of being Bishop T.D. Jakes’s daughter, Sarah knows what it is to feel buried by failure and aching pain.
But when her journey brought her to faith’s fork in the road, Sarah found she had to choose between staying in the comfort of the pain she knew or daring to make new wounds and move forward.
Now Sarah shares the numerous life lessons she’s learned along the way with other women also struggling to believe they’re not disqualified by their pain and past mistakes. She delves into topics such as allowing the past to empower the present, choosing to step forward while still being afraid, facing struggles in the midst of community, finding intimacy with God outside of preconceived notions of what it should look like, and learning to focus on others.
In Don’t Settle for Safe, Sarah will help you:
- View your history with positivity
- Demolish destructive patterns
- Connect with true intimacy
- Repurpose your passion into to your purpose
- Realize your true calling
With deeply personal stories of her own, Sarah helps readers find their way to the right perspective and the confidence to walk toward the best God has for them.
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|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Don't Settle for Safe
Embracing the Uncomfortable to Become Unstoppable
By Sarah Jakes Roberts
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2017 Sarah Jakes Roberts
All rights reserved.
No More Excuses
I am stuck in the persona I've created. But how can I dig deep when it's taking all that I have to hold myself together? Thinking of all the broken pieces scattered around my life makes me afraid to face tomorrow. But I long for freedom. I want to find the light that leads me out of this cave. Please, God, if You can see me, send me a reminder that You're still with me.
This is the moment that will change your life forever. You are finally becoming the person you always knew you could be. I wish I could say it's because you opened this book, but it's much bigger than that. You have decided it's time for you to be free. You've stopped trying to construct a life you hope other people will accept, and instead you've decided to embrace the life that God has in store for you. Nothing has happened to you that God can't use to restore you. The first step in that restoration is recognizing the power you've always had to pull yourself out of darkness and constantly push toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
Many times you felt like quitting, but you didn't. Maybe you were unhappy with the present, unsure about tomorrow, and too afraid to confront the past. Maybe, like me, you've thought, If only I hadn't expected so much, then the pain wouldn't have been so great. You've wondered if you should lower your expectations. One of life's greatest tests is resisting the urge to cave in to the pressure of that kind of frustration. And you've resisted. You're still dreaming big.
Despite the many tears that threatened to dilute it, your faith did not dissolve. Your heart is still pumping. Your pulse is a sign that this world needs you. All of your achievements, confusion, accolades, issues, awards, and pain prepared you for the journey.
You know you were made for so much more than this. Long before you became aware that life could be more bitter than sweet, you believed that nothing was impossible. The success of this book relies on you connecting with every part of you, especially the pieces that have been buried behind a smile. I want to speak to that purest, most innocent version of you. I want to speak to the child who once believed she could jump off of her bed and fly. I want to speak to the person who was so afraid of the dark that she needed her door cracked to let in a glimmer of light. Remember how you laughed without fear of how your joy would sound to other people and cried without concern that other people would think you were weak? You were fully alive. You felt everything and didn't need anything to numb you from your reality.
I hate that you've adjusted to the pain. Maybe, like me, you grew to a place where you hid your feelings, perhaps even from yourself. But as much as I might wish away the hurts that changed you, the truth is that those hurts created some of the most beautiful parts of your heart. That's right! You are armed with more wisdom, discernment, awareness, confidence, and joy than the innocent and delicate person you once were.
My mission is to open your eyes and help you see that longing for the past is an illusion. Your present holds more promise than anything that used to be. The cost of that vision is also the reward: transparency, vulnerability, and intimacy with God. At times you may be so uncomfortable you'll close this book, but you won't keep it closed for long. You know why? Your soul is begging for you to leave a door cracked open so that light can shine through.
This is your season of change and transformation — your opportunity to grow. You are only as free as your mind will allow you to be. Taking control of your life will require you to be proactive, not reactive. But the power of this book cannot be unlocked unless it is read with an open heart and mind. For positive change to take place within your soul, no area can be off limits for examination. Daddy issues, mommy problems, sibling rivalry, low self-esteem, ambition without character, and fragile integrity are just a few of the areas we will explore. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. You are worth it.
Growth is produced through sacrifice. It requires that you release the comfort of your last phase and learn the distinctions of the new one.
Clothes That Don't Fit Anymore
My husband and I have a blended family with six beautiful children. Touré had his three angels and I had my two. We were content with our small tribe, but as our love began to overflow, we began to dream of adding one more. And then came our baby girl, Ella.
When we were expecting our daughter, the doctor estimated that she'd be a little over eight pounds at time of birth. I didn't buy many newborn clothes because I know from experience how quickly babies grow. Ella surprised us all when she was born weighing just six pounds. So I quickly stocked up on tiny clothes and diapers. But just a few weeks later, Ella was two months old and already weighed twelve pounds. The slew of newborn diapers and clothes we'd acquired were no longer useful and needed to be given away. Luckily, she was too young to have any attachments to them.
Unfortunately, things were a bit more difficult for her six-year-old sister. When it became evident that Makenzie was outgrowing her clothes, I bought new ones, but I had to undertake a covert mission to get rid of what no longer fit. Even though the old clothes had grown uncomfortable, the nostalgic connection she had to them was strong. She refused to let go of them even though they were no longer useful.
It will take some time before she realizes that it's foolish to keep clothes that don't fit. She has yet to learn that the gift of growing requires letting go. We have to let go or we'll experience discomfort and even pain.
By now you know I'm not just talking about clothes.
Letting go is trusting that we can carry the lessons from our past in our hearts without constantly replaying the pain in our heads. You're likely much older than Makenzie, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and guess that there are some people, things, and ideas, or maybe patterns or behaviors in your life you've grown so accustomed to that the mere thought of confronting and separating from them gives you anxiety.
Trust me, I've been there!
So what is it in your life that you might need to let go of?
When I close my eyes, I can clearly see two extremely different versions of me. Neither are full expressions of who I am, but both are true. On one side I see a young, insecure girl pretending she's okay. A smile is plastered on her face, but it's more of a mask than a genuine expression. The sadness in her eyes betrays her. I see how lost her soul has become. Questions plague her and fears haunt her. She doesn't yet know her incredible potential. She doesn't know that even with her flaws and struggles, she is full of possibilities. She's not looking for an opportunity to catapult her to unprecedented heights; she's just looking for enough stability to feel "normal."
Then there's the other image. She has blossomed into her womanhood. She has learned that stability can only be attained through facing insecurities. She is no longer searching for an opportunity because she recognizes that there are too many to choose from already. She is content to chase God's destiny for her life. She understands that flaws are a necessary part of life because they foster humility. She has become a student of life and a teacher to all who will listen. Her heart has become perfectly aligned with a Source much stronger than her own will. She has met God and He has shown her the power in being her authentic self.
Both of these are versions of myself, but neither of them could exist without the other. The mystery for most of us is learning how to channel our insecurities into the empowerment necessary to maximize adulthood.
Is What You Wanted Then What You Need Now?
Stop for a minute and think about your own two selves — your young self and the one you want to be. Becoming who you want to be may demand that you get rid of old ideas about what success looks like. For me, this meant getting rid of the white-picket-fence illusion.
The presence of adolescent fears existing simultaneously with adult ambition is not isolated to the journey of womanhood. The same paradox exists for our male counterparts. From boyhood, men pride themselves on their ability to be rough and tough. When water begins to form in their eyes, we tell them to suck it up and that boys don't cry. Their youthful charm and boyish features earn them nicknames meant to be endearing, such as "heartbreaker" or "ladies' man." When we create a culture that congratulates men on their ability to hide their emotions, juggle multiple relationships, and resist vulnerability, we run the risk of producing men who internalize their fears and who break hearts rather than protect them. They, too, must learn to shed the behavior of their insecurities and trust themselves without the validation that comes from having a muscular build, dry eyes, and notches in their belts. How do you become a man of character and integrity when all you've heard is the applause that comes with indiscretions? Life brings us all to a fork in the road when we must choose to grow up into the unknown or grow cold by staying the same.
All throughout childhood, boys and girls are inundated with images of success. The most popular narrative painted a picture of a demure, educated, well-dressed, and well-behaved woman who captured the attention and heart of a powerful man. That man, through love and devotion, provided a comfortable life and a home bordered by the proverbial white picket fence. And they lived happily ever after.
Some of us followed the socially accepted trajectory toward such "success." It didn't take long, however, before we realized that even the modest goals of high school, college, career, marriage, home, and family take a lot of work. Unexpected events often delay or detour our desired accomplishments, and we begin to see that this thing called life requires an uncanny resolve to maintain peace in the middle of the raging storms. So what happens when, on our journey toward obtaining the white-picket-fence ideal, we lose touch with ourselves?
For me, the white picket fence represents the illusion of safety and normalcy that keeps us from facing the issues we've tucked away in our hearts. Of course hiding from our human frailty comes in all different shapes, sizes, and packages. Some of us swear off the notion of love altogether, others hide behind successful careers, and many feign an enjoyment and exhilaration that comes from being unchained to real morals or convictions. The bottom line is you'll never know who you can become if you create a life that requires you to pretend you're already comfortable with who you are.
Dangerous Comparison Game
Occasionally, we get a glimpse of how much our covetous perception of other people's lives was shaped by a very limited perspective. We knew our best friend wasn't perfect, but we never guessed she had a secret addiction. We were thinking our neighbors had it all together and then we learned their marriage was just as broken as ours. Our coworker with the most enviable house in town goes bankrupt. We learn that no one has life completely figured out and everyone is a little bit broken.
But mediocrity is comforting until it becomes debilitating. Witnessing dysfunction in other people's lives may make us more comfortable with our own, but this dangerous knowledge can also strip us of the motivation required to pursue a deeper level of self-intimacy and transformation.
You cannot point the finger at other people's shortcomings to justify your own. God doesn't grade our lives on a curve. He's given each of us a certain measure of faith and power to have an incredible life. Each of us has an opportunity to dust off the shame, fear, and pain that threatened to bury us and reemerge with strength and tenacity.
Resist the Urge to Lower Your Expectations
Moving on takes effort, intentionality, and discipline. If you're going to gather the broken pieces of your life and build again, you must be willing to clear your heart and mind of excuses. Your comeback will become another setback if you focus on all the reasons you could fail.
Excuses are comfort zones. Life is never short on excuses.
With only a little bit of effort, we can come up with justifications that ultimately leave us bitter, broken, or numb. Of course, many of us don't see that those justifications have been creeping into us for quite some time. Have you experienced a time when you should be flourishing, but somehow your past experiences with trauma lured you in to settling for the safety of immobility? Maybe you convinced yourself that staying the same meant you'd never hurt again either.
We choose to view our future through the lens of past disappointments. That perspective isolates us inside paralyzing fear.
Once our lives have been disturbed by pain, we create a list of personal dos and don'ts out of trepidation. "I'll never trust, try, love, write, believe, hope, sing, laugh, dream, etc., again." Our list of "I'll nevers" is false protection against another letdown. The walls our fears erect are as unstable as the excuses that created them. Placing our hearts in a fortress will not keep pain at a distance. Pain touches every life, but if you're open, it will also teach you a valuable life lesson.
Name Your Pain
If you're going to combat the negative mentality that ultimately sets you up for failure, you must battle excuses with truth. A lifestyle of excuses didn't happen overnight; it was practiced until it became a perfected and comfortable norm. So if we're going to create a new precedent in our lives, we have to understand how our previous pattern was birthed. You cannot change a past you won't confront.
There are two essential truths that will help you realize the potential of restoration. The first is this: you must name your pain. Every pain we've experienced has changed us. No matter how many times you say, "I'm okay," if you haven't accepted and admitted that you've been hurt, you're not healing; you're reverting.
Regardless of what our pride may have us believe, moving on does not mean allowing our lives to go back to the way they were. By definition, reverting is going back to a previous state or reacquiring original features. It's important that you know this: your heart will not return to its original pre-hurt state. Nor should it. Doing so would mean that you would have to relinquish the wisdom, growth, and experiences that were designed to make your heart stronger. In haste to move past pain, we often choose the identity most accessible to us, and it's generally a modified/amplified version of who we were before we became acquainted with disappointment. When pain shackles us to difficult memories, we may ignore our wounds and stifle our cries for help. We choose to say we're okay when in actuality, we're just numb.
As you acknowledge your pain and discover how the experience changed you, do not forget the second truth our restoration requires: survival empowers; it does not confine. The mere fact that you're holding this book in your hands is a testament that your spirit is not broken. In spite of your most critical thoughts, something in you knows you have more left than you've lost. The true testimony of survival is not in what you survived; it is in how you were able to truly live again. What good is surviving a break if you still choose to live with a cast? A cast was never meant to be a permanent fixture in your healing.
So you've received the gift of survival. The next step is learning how to use it, which will force you to exercise faith like never before. The moment you begin to reestablish faith in your life, fear will try to rear its ugly head.
Most people struggling to overcome their fears have had an encounter with disappointment so great that every dream they can conceive is contaminated with the toxic anxiety of failure. When your mind becomes cluttered with the possibilities of "what if," there is no room for faith. Living life prepared for the worst possible outcome is like living in a cage — it's not freedom. Over time, you will recognize the difference between guarding your heart and restricting it. You'll learn to stop talking yourself out of the good things God has promised to all who live according to His purpose.
You, my survivor friend, will not settle for a life dictated by insecurities or previous experiences. At this very moment, you are changing the trajectory of your life. You have access to power that is capable of working within you to free you from any mental and emotional bondage that has convinced you a better life is not within your grasp.
Keep the Promises You Make to Yourself
We cannot tap into that power and hang on to excuses at the same time. Your heart, mind, and hands must be free to lay hold of all that is ahead of you. Understanding the psychology of your excuses is pivotal in having permanent victory over them. So, my question to you is:
When did you learn to give up on yourself?
Excerpted from Don't Settle for Safe by Sarah Jakes Roberts. Copyright © 2017 Sarah Jakes Roberts. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 No More Excuses 1
2 Find Your Weeds 17
3 Learn Your Patterns 31
4 Know Your Roots 49
5 Frienemies 73
6 Forgive and Remember 89
7 Connecting with God 111
8 Purpose 125
9 Intimacy 143
10 Show Me How 167