Bishop T.D. Jakes’ daughter, Sarah Jakes Roberts, took a few minutes Saturday, Oct. 8, to apologize on behalf of the Black church for perpetuating messages that have harmed people’s mental health and self-image.
“I don’t know how much it counts,” said Roberts, “but I will say that I apologize as a faith leader for the moments where you were told to just pray it away, for the moments where you were told that you’re never going to be one of the ‘good girls’ or the ‘good guys’ or you’re always going to be damaged. I apologize that you received those messages.”
Roberts said it would be “remiss” not to acknowledge church leaders’ failures in these areas, while noting that she can only speak on behalf of the Black church because she does not have experience in white churches.
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Sarah Jakes Roberts on ‘Mental Wealth’
Sarah Jakes Roberts appeared with her husband, Touré Roberts, in New York City Saturday at the Mental Wealth Expo, an event organized by The Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne tha God in partnership with Mental Wealth Alliance and iHeartRadio.
Sarah Jakes Roberts is the daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes, who leads The Potter’s House, a non-denominational megachurch in Dallas. She and Touré co-pastor two branches of The Potter’s House, one in Los Angeles and one in Denver. In September, T.D. Jakes announced that he was handing his daughter leadership of his women’s-empowerment conference ministry, including the renowned Woman, Thou Art Loosed! conference.
Touré Roberts interviewed his wife on the topic of “mental wealth” before an audience at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Roberts shared that when she grew up in the church, she did not have the awareness or language to understand mental health challenges. She did not realize, for example, that she struggled with depression during that time. “I just felt like I was disconnected from God,” she said, “that the faith thing wasn’t working for me, that there was something wrong with me.” Now that she is more educated about mental health, Roberts has a “deeper, more authentic, relationship with God.”
It is important to “marry” mental health practices with faith, said Roberts, instead of spiritualizing mental health problems by telling people they should simply “pray it away” or “name it and claim it.” She emphasized the importance of approaching God honestly instead of trying to hide behind a certain persona.
To achieve “mental wealth,” Touré and Sarah Jakes Roberts encouraged people to educate themselves, to put what they learn into practice, and then to be disciplined about those practices. Sarah Jakes Roberts goes to therapy and has worked on being aware of when she is responding in her life out of her past trauma. As an example, she said that when her husband asks her a business question, sometimes she feels insecure, as though she is not intelligent, or “like a 13-year-old girl who got pregnant.” Roberts has written about her teen pregnancy in her book, “Dear Mary: Lessons From the Mother of Jesus for the Modern Mom.”