Each month, you’ll hear from one of us on what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. Enjoy!
As I’m sure is true for many of you, I’ve listened to Jamie Ivey’s podcast for a while now. Each week, I’ve gotten glimpses into her story as she talks with guests about their stories. Her story, I learned, is both the same and different from mine. It is both the same and different from the stories of all of us who’ve been rescued by the gracious love and forgiveness of Jesus. She says, “My story, like your story, is not the story that others have written about us, nor is it the thick autobiography we’ve felt the need to write about ourselves. Our stories are redemption stories—the stories of redeemed identities. We were lost, but now we are found.”
In If You Only Knew, Jamie tells her story while empowering others to share theirs. Jamie lets readers in, revealing some of her darkest moments, the areas in which she used to feel shame, guilt, and fear. Her hope is not for vulnerability for the sake of being vulnerable. Her aim throughout the entire book is to give Jesus glory. One of my favorite quotes comes from the end of a chapter on vulnerability. She writes, “Being vulnerable—sharing our need for a Savior—points people to Jesus and not ourselves. And He’s who they need to be looking at, not us!”
In telling her story, Jamie acknowledges that we all haven’t experienced the same trials and the same struggles. However, she does point out that we all have trials and struggles. Your thing may not be my thing and my thing may not be Jamie’s thing, but we are all sinners. As believers, we’ve all fallen short of Christ’s perfection and been saved by His grace.
Jamie talks about this in her book. She talks about how she tried different paths toward healing. Some of them seemed good and right, but they weren’t Jesus. She says, “The only thing that can change someone’s life is a surrendered relationship with Jesus.” Throughout her journey, Jamie points out how Jesus continually pursued her. He provided a way for her to be forgiven, loved, and redeemed. She just had to surrender to Him.
This book is not merely a memoir or a testimony. It is both of those things, but it is also a story about Jesus and freedom in His forgiveness. Women who struggle and women who know women who struggle (and I believe we all fit into both categories) will learn from reading If You Only Knew. We will learn, biblically, how to struggle well. Jamie does not hide the gospel, she doesn’t hide God’s grace, she doesn’t hide the need for forgiveness. She reveals truth about God, sin, and our identities through Scripture throughout the book.
By reading If You Only Knew, we will also learn to tell our stories—the good, the bad, and the ugly. We will learn to open up to others, because, as Jamie says, “When we hide the mess we’ve been through, we also hide the redemption that God has lavishly poured on us.”
Finally, we will learn to offer grace and compassion to women who are struggling. Our struggles may not look alike, but we need one another to point us to Jesus, the One who heals. I love how Jamie puts it, “My prayer for you and for me is that we would be women who acknowledge we’re struggling and that we love God with everything we’ve got. Those two can exist together: struggle and loving devotion.”
Elizabeth Hyndman is a content editor for Bibles and Bible studies and a social media strategist for LifeWay Women. She’s a chai latte connoisseur, a Nashville native, and proponent of the Oxford Comma. You can follow her @edhyndman or read her blog edhyndman.com.