Serita Jakes ministers to women at The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, where her husband, T.D. Jakes, is pastor. When she was a teenager, Serita Jakes' brother was murdered. Her grief led her into an abusive relationship with a teenage boy. Eventually, she worked through her fears by writing letters to God, whom she called her Secret Keeper. Following is an excerpt from "The Princess Within" by Serita Ann Jakes, reprinted with permission from Bethany House Publishers.

I had wanted to hide as a teenager because of the shame I felt when a violent boyfriend rejected me. His actions toward me made me feel unlovely, unwanted, and jilted. I hid this sense of rejection for many years, not realizing how much it affected me until I took time to be honest before God and admit my secret pain to Him. I was free from the secret after writing a letter to my Lord. Once I told Him how I felt and saw how much He loved me, the event lost its power to hurt me. It even seems odd now that I ever felt it was a secret worth keeping. I wrote,

Dear Secret Keeper,

I think that being young and naïve often creates a canvas for You to show us how You paint Your master plan for our lives. All I can say is that I believed him. He had been so nice. He picked me up from school every day. Even the gifts he brought to me were such a surprise. What went wrong? At first I didn't notice his weaknesses, because he seemed to be such a strong man.

It was right after my brother had died. No, let me correct that statement. It was right after my brother was murdered. My whole world seemed to come to a screeching halt. How could his life be ended so abruptly, just when he was trying to get it all together? He had given his life to You. For the first time in his life, my brother seemed to have found true happiness - the kind of happiness that I knew (even then) only came from having You as the center of his life.

One evening he went out with his daughters to one of the local hangouts. The girls were raising money for a trip to an amusement park, and their daddy was taking them where all of his friends would be. Everybody liked my brother, I thought. But something went wrong. There was an argument. Then there were gunshots, and my brother tumbled to the bottom of the stairs.

His knees were drawn to his chest in the fetal position, but this was not his entrance into life. It was his tragic exit. When they took our mother to him, she went into shock. Her firstborn was gone, and she was left alone.

Oh, Secret Keeper, I was looking for my brother! I was looking for someone who enjoyed having fun like my brother. But instead, I found him. He liked to have fun, but sometimes he seemed so angry. I began to notice bouts of anger that soon became hostility toward me. The hostility turned into verbal outbursts that I could not believe my ears were hearing. As suddenly as it happened, he would return to being the person I had grown so fond of.

He visited every day. I even recognized the sound of his car when he drove up. But the visits became shorter; there was always something else he had to do. As the visits grew briefer, the atmosphere became more intense and often resulted in senseless arguments. I felt like something wasn't right. I could almost sense danger every time he came.

In my heart, I felt warned that the relationship was taking a turn for the worse. I heard his car, but he didn't stop one day. Then I heard his car as he passed without stopping a second day. When he finally decided to stop and come in, he accused me as if I had done something wrong. I was so amazed that I had sat there for several days waiting for someone who I thought really cared for me. The accusations turned into rage. The rage turned into threats of violence. What game was this we played?


My Secret Keeper stopped me from continuing by pouring into my soul the memory of His promise from Psalm 121:1-8. I looked up the scripture and read it to myself as though the Lord were speaking it directly to me. Such a paraphrase reads like this:

Dear Serita Ann,

You will lift up your eyes to the hills - where does your help come from? Your help comes from Me, the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

I will not let your foot slip - I who watch over you will not slumber; indeed, I who watch over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. I, the Lord, watch over you - I am your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

I, the Lord, will keep you from all harm - I will watch over your life; I, the Lord, will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

My Lord had wrestled with me just as He had done with Jacob. Though I had been weakened by the young man who pulled down my countenance, my Lord strengthened me with the memory that He was always there with me. I returned to my writing and finished telling my Lord the secret that had haunted me.