If you only knew the real me, you wouldn’t associate me. If you only knew what had happened in my past, you may forgive me, but you would not allow me in your life. These shameful statements that far too often ring true in our own minds. They aren’t true though. We’ve all been through something that we’re not that proud of, something we’d rather not share.
I know I have those things in my life, in my story. A few of those close to me know them, but as for the whole world knowing them? I’m not there yet. I’m so thankful that there are women ahead of me forging that path for those of us who aren’t quite ready yet. Jamie Ivey is one of those women.
The Girl Behind The Book + Why I Love Her
Jamie Ivey is a podcaster who celebrates and champions other women well on her podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She showcases amazing women on her podcast as they both invite the listener into their conversation. It seriously lives up to its name as it feels like you’re sitting there in that conversation and can chime in at any moment. It’s hands-down my favorite podcast.
One of the things that I really appreciate and love about Jamie, is her “we’re all in this together” approach to life and her willingness to share her heart, even the parts that may not be so pretty. That’s exactly what she’s done in her first book, If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free as she takes her readers along for a journey throughout her life. Jamie’s approachable, conversational style makes you feel like you’re sitting in a chair with coffee next to her or literally walking alongside her in her story. That comfy coffee shop chair is the perfect spot to curl up and hear her story.
It takes a lot of vulnerability to share first. That’s what us 90’s kids call, ‘guts’ – and boy does Jamie have them! She shares some TOUGH stuff that she’s been through – struggles, trials, temptations. As Jamie’s most painful life moments unfold and she shares a lot of where shame has eaten at her and stolen her freedom, she unravels her story to shine a light on God in the midst of everything. She repeatedly states, Jesus is better. That’s because He is. The freedom He gives us is so much better than our sin and shame that we so readily hold onto.
“Being vulnerable with someone says to them that you value them, that you welcome them into your life. All the parts. The good, the bad, and the ugly.” This is what she has done, and I am so thankful she has opened up her heart and her life to begin a revolution of vulnerability.
Sharing My ‘If You Only Knew’ Story
While reading, it was all too easy to see my own story in the midst of the pages. As Jamie struggled, failed, and succeeded, I could see my own story flashing around my mind. I wish I was in a place where I felt like I could be that brave. Currently though, I’m still learning how to forgive myself. I jumped at the chance to be on the launch team mainly, because I love Jamie. I don’t even really know if I knew what her book was about. If I did, I would have gladly given up my spot on the team.
Like I said above, forgiveness is a tough topic for me. I’m not quite so sure I was ready to start reading about it and having to stare face to face with my own past. Honestly, staring at someone else’s story and forgiving them for their shortcomings along the way is so much easier than looking at my own failures and saying that I forgive myself for them. The beautiful thing that Jamie brings to this idea of forgiveness is that it’s not up to me. It never was.
“But if you’d turn your head to look at your story just a little bit differently, you’d see it’s actually the record of a faithful God, willing His unwilling child to return to Him, loving you through all your unloveliness. His pursuit of you is simply unavoidable. And His desire is to set you free by His power to forgive, to put you to great use for Him.”
Jesus died on the cross for those sins already. God has long forgiven me and called me his precious daughter, fully knowing what I’ve done and will do in the future. The forgiveness may not be up to me, but I do need time to look closely at parts of my own story that are rising to the surface. Honestly, I’m still processing some of them like they happened yesterday even though they may have happened years before. And that is okay. We’re not all ready to thrust our own stories out into the whole world just yet.
In time, I hope to share my own ‘if you only knew’ with the whole world. I hope you will too. In the meantime, start small. Share your story with someone close to you. Allow them to hold some of that pain and burden for you. “When we hide the mess we’ve been through, we also hide the redemption that God has lavishly poured on us. We can’t proclaim His grace until we expose our mess.” Expose your mess.
Thank you, Jamie, for paving that way for myself and for others to both face our stories and find the freedom to tell our own stories. For anyone struggling with feelings of regret, shame and feeling unforgivable – even by God, Jamie’s story will have you saying “me too” and “yes, I am forgiven.” I know this, because it has done that for me.
Jesus is better.
You may realize that I’m posting on a Monday. I never do that, but it’s the last day to preorder Jamie’s book. I wanted to give y’all the opportunity to do that, and you can order it here. If you order today, go here to redeem a preorder code for a chance to win fun prizes from Jamie herself.