When I lived in Dallas, TX, my family and I were members of The Potter’s House. Having the opportunity to experience TD Jakes live was life-changing in many ways. There were times when I wasn’t sure from where my courage would rise, but I’d literally felt the power of his spirit by simply standing a few feet away from him. Once, when we were given the opportunity for him to pray for us individually, I was so soothed by his spirit, my problem seemed to disappear.
But his family wasn’t exempt from their own trials. During my attendance, I heard rumors about his daughter, Sarah. She had gotten pregnant and was supposedly on drugs, etc. Some church members were appalled by her behavior because she was the Bishop’s daughter. I never inquired about her story because, being a stripper in my past life, I didn’t want to participate in church gossip since I knew how it felt.
Then one Sunday, Bishop mentioned his daughter in one of his sermons. Having a wayward daughter myself, I was curious to hear what he’d say. And, as you can imagine, his words changed my perspective. I can’t recall what he said verbatim, but it went something like this: my daughter is going through it and she’s not attending church. I know God is going to use what she’s going through so she can be a blessing to others.
I absolutely didn’t know what to say. That wasn’t how I had regarded my teen daughter’s behavior, but it made me reexamine how I looked at the problem. Shortly after that sermon, I made an appointment with the church counselor even though I’d felt discouraged about counseling. For a year, I’d taken her to see other counselors and they weren’t able to “fix her”. But that one session at The Potter’s House turned our relationship around and she and I have been fine ever since.
Over the years, though, I had always wondered what happened to Sarah Jakes, the Bishop’s daughter…
It’s January 2018 12 years later and Sarah popped up on my Facebook timeline. One of my friends shared her video and instantly, I was made a fan. She was just like me. Ok, well, she wasn’t a stripper but you get the idea…she was once a wild woman for the world, and now, for Christ. And she was determined to inspire other wild women to that they too, can be wild for God.
But the light will always win over darkness.
When I learned Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts was hosting her very first conference in June 2018, I bought my ticket without hesitation. I love her frankness and wisdom and I especially loved that she was sticking it to church folk. I’m a PK with Ivy League parents so I understand all too well how it feels to be ostracized, talked about, and lied on by self-righteous, hypocritical people.
I was disappointed that I missed the opportunity to be a part of the Inner Circle but no matter. I needed to see the young girl who not only beat the odds, she thrived in the face of every trial, tribulation, and hater. Although I speak and write and share my story to inspire others, the little girl in me needed to experience this. She still sought validation, a family of wild women who survived their past and accepted that God chose them to go through it in order to be a blessing to others.
And….chiiiilllleeeee! Lemme tell you something! Pastor Sarah was PHENOMENAL!
The conference was everything I expected and more. Thousands of women arrived and some, like I, traveled alone. I made new friends of all ages and every solo traveler I spoke to said they could not wait for their friends to get on board. There was a fire burning inside them and they needed to attend the conference. Some of the women had troubled marriages, a negative circle of friends, and were even teen moms, unemployed, and ex-cons.
First Lady Jakes opened the conference by explaining how we were each in a wilderness, an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable place where, despite the odds, God placed us to thrive. Sarah’s wilderness was the church. My new friend Mely learned to thrive while serving time. And my wilderness was my parents’ home and life with my now ex-husband.
The sanctuary was electric. I watched through my own tears, sobs, and cries as we welcomed the Holy Spirit and received healing for years of heartbreak, loneliness, and injustice. And confirmation that even if God didn’t orchestrate it, it was and will be used for our good. And affirmation that we weren’t abused or suffered trials due to anything we did wrong; it was quite possible that we did everything right. Like Sarah said, God places you where you can grow, not where it’s easy.
As I recall the pretentiousness of the “old church”, I can’t help but think that church today has been evolving because wild women like Sarah have found the unwavering strength to share their story, be an example, and lead other wild women to Christ.
Who you become in the wilderness determines who you are. While you may never know the reason why you’re faced with trials and tribulations, it’s important to get past the frustration and operate in faith. There’s no time to dissect who, what, when, where or why it happened. It’s time to focus on the miracle of how you made it through – not the mistake or injustice you faced. Whether your wilderness is a layoff, divorce, loss of a loved one, abuse etc., thank God for the miracle. And when you do, you may find yourself wanting to be a miracle to others.
Elona Washington is a best-selling author and the founder of Memoir Maven Publishing. She’s served as a professional speaker since 2011 and has most recently started a local talk show named Power From Pain. It is her mission to inspire women to heal from the pain of their past.With an undergraduate degree from Howard University, Elona later obtained her Master of Science in Management from the University of Maryland University College. She’s a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a mother of two. A native of Washington, DC she currently resides in the Philadelphia, PA area.Learn more about her work and advocacy by visiting www.elonawashington.com.