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RISE: Being OK with Being Me

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RISE: Being OK with Being Me

“…it took me a minute I was trying to get comfortable in my own skin…” – Me (from I’m Awesome)

Let me say that the process of getting comfortable in our own skin is just that…a process. It’s a process that we have to be okay with. Until we’re comfortable with being ourselves, we’ll always run the risk of trading originality for acceptance. I’ve learned a lot of lessons about this. One story in particular comes to mind.

About 4 years ago, I was in a place where I really wanted to be busy with my concert schedule. I frequently did shows with a particular group of artists, and we would perform at various outreaches.  It was great, but there was just one problem: I came to a point where I didn’t want to travel with this group of artists and do the outreach concerts anymore. And that actually scared me. If you’re an aspiring artist, then you know that sometimes we’re just grateful to have shows. The more shows you have, the better it looks on the calendar. Everyone wants to look like they’re in high demand, right? This connection was where a lot of my concerts were coming from at the time. But while things were looking good on the calendar, I was dreading the next event. Why? Here are a few reasons:

  1. The events were never really done well. Sure, the sound was decent…but that was about it. Reaching people in excellence seemed to be an afterthought.
  2. I was doing the concerts out of guilt. I thought that if I declined an invitation to do a free event, then I must be in it for the money.
  3. The group of artists started to be seen as some special group who got all the shows. I got this feel from a promoter too. I didn’t want to be a part of that.

There was one more reason why I dreaded the concerts. It was because they were mainly street evangelism events. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that street evangelism is needed. But at that time, I was questioning if I was the one to do them. My passion was (and is) to help strengthen the body of Christ for ministry. Maybe my upbringing in the church environment has something to do it. Maybe that’s just how God wired me. Either way it goes, posting up outside with a speaker system in hopes that people will hear the message is not really my thing. I can and will do it if God directs me. In fact, I do a couple of yearly outreaches that are pretty much like that. God always shows up and blesses it. However, I don’t wake up thinking, “Man, I can’t wait to post up on the next block for Jesus!” It took me a while to realize that these feelings did NOT mean that I didn’t love Jesus or souls. I’m not a lover of money if turn down a free outreach with 100 other artists on the lineup. I finally got to a place where I was able to tell one of the guys not to book me for any more events with the group. It was uncomfortable, but in the end I was okay. The energy that I used to “fit in” could now be redirected towards carving out my own lane.

The journey continues. Today, I find myself being faced with challenges that feel more like barriers to me fully expressing what God has put inside of me. Working for a church (and specifically in children’s and youth ministry) is awesome, but it can also present a few challenges to me as an artist. I feel like there is this unspoken expectation to say nice, kid-friendly things all of the time. I also feel like I can’t say too much about struggles within church life. People might think that I’m talking about my specific congregation or specific people within the congregation. And if I were to talk about specific things that I’ve experienced, where is the line between authenticity and putting church people on blast? I try to be a very honest person, but will I ever be okay with being honest in these situations? The answer is simple: I have to be okay with being truthful.  I have to be authentic. It’s who God calls me to be AND it’s what good art is all about. It will require humility and honor, but I can’t just remove honesty. I also have to be okay with my music being explicitly centered on the gospel when a lot of Christian rap artists seem to be steering away from that. I have to be okay with making music that doesn’t sound like a stereotypical rap project. Mixing genres and experimenting isn’t for everyone, but it is for ME. In choosing to be true to who God made me, I’m doing my unique part to display God’s greatness while introducing a new normal to the culture connoisseurs around me.

What are the areas in your life where you need to be a bit more comfortable in your own skin?


Jarrell is a rap artist, the founder of Freedom Music Group, and the leader of The Scribe Collective which serves as the hip-hop arm of Eddie James Ministries. Jarrell also serves in leadership at Faith Outreach Center International. He and his wife Jeneil are the proud parents of two beautiful girls, Nyomi and Liviya.

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