A review of If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free, by Jamie Ivey.
Nobody likes fake, and no one wants to be known as someone who’s plastic or inauthentic. We like it when others keep it real with us and we’re encouraged and challenged by the authenticity of others. Yet the pressure from the world to be impressive, wealthy, and put together is real.
Don’t let them see you sweat and keep it together. Don’t admit that you’re weak. Fake it ’til you make it.
This sets up an interesting tension since we like to see others be real, but we’re often afraid of letting our guard down or allowing others to see us struggle. So instead we march through life and tell others we’re “fine,” fake a smile, or simply live in superficial, inauthentic responses. We long to impress others.
So instead of seeing authenticity, we all choose to create a fake personae for others so they don’t see what’s really going on.
But then along comes Jamie Ivey and her new book, If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Sory of Becoming Free. Yes, I’m quite aware this book is written for women and Jamie’s podcast features women, but in the spirit of authenticity (given the nature of this post), I don’t care. Her story challenged me in so many ways to be honest and to keep it real.
One of the comments we most often hear at Watermark is that we’re vulnerable and authentic in the ways we share. It starts from the top down with our Lead Pastor, Todd Wagner. So when I get to see and read about someone else being vulnerable and authentic, it inspires and encourages me.
This “book is about God and His passionate, relentless pursuit of His people.”
Ivey writes, “I lived in a constant fear of “if they only knew.” Because if others knew everything about me… I was sure they wouldn’t like it” (pg. 23).
In her honesty and her confessions, Ivey makes the reader feel safe as she invites us into her story. She has a dark past and even as a worship leader’s wife and the leader of her own Christ-centered podcast (The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey), Ivey isn’t afraid to share her past and the challenges of her present. Ivey doesn’t shy away from sharing her story. Her courage inspires me to pursue a more intimate relationship with the Father. We all think if others knew our full story, they’d run the opposite direction. This book gives people the permission to be completely honest.
We all live in fear of “If you only knew.” But Ivey helps remove the fears and stigma of confession and telling others our stories. The Lord wants us to tell others our stories so that He can get all the glory out of them. I have a terrible past and I’m not proud of so many things I’ve done. But, I desire for the Lord to get all the glory He can out of my broken, sinful story.
In the most vulnerable part of the book, Ivey shares one of her more recent struggles. In the context of confession, she says, “Something beautiful happens when we’re vulnerable.” If You Only Knew is an important book for men and women to read—we need to lead out in vulnerability within the body of Christ, and Ivey effectively challenges her readers to take a step of bold courage by being honest about our lives.
She also reminds the readers of the false nature of the statement, “I can’t forgive myself.” I’m thankful she reminds readers that Christ’s sacrifice was enough to pay for all our sins. She calls the reader to trust in the fact that “Jesus is Better,” in every way possible. Ivey knows authenticity and vulnerability are not the end goal, but rather a means to becoming more like Christ.
Do you have friends with whom you can be honest and authentic? Do you feel the freedom to be honest with your spouse?