If You Only Knew | A Book Review

DISCLAIMER: I received this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. Want to be a B&H/LifeWay blogger too? Apply at bhbloggers.com
What If You Knew all the moments of my past that I am not proud of? What if you really knew me, the messy parts that I’ve hoped to forget and worked hard to conceal? For so long, my greatest fear was what you might think of me if you only knew the whole story. It’s exhausting, this guarding of our stories and struggles. Fear of being found out had caused me to hide–but I wasn’t just covering my flaws, I was unintentionally blocking the beauty of God’s grace. My journey to real freedom began when I quit running from my mess and started trusting Jesus to make something beautiful of it.  This book is that story. It’s stepping out of shame and insecurity into gospel freedom. It’s letting God turn our failures and frailties into testimonies of His faithfulness. I’ve discovered that when we quit hiding, God gets the glory and we are able to fully embrace not only our relationship with Him, but also with one another.  Transparency brings freedom, and in every moment, we’ll find that God can absolutely be trusted.  Jamie Ivey believes we are all on this journey of life together and we need each other to get to the end. Through her blog and podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, she uses a raw and intimate approach to connect with her audience. Jamie’s prayer and hope is for God to use her words to encourage and show others that they are not alone, while constantly pointing them to Jesus. She is mother to four kids and wife to Aaron. Jamie loves reading, date nights, Mexican food, and traveling the world with her family.
Insecurity. Shame. Fear. These are words you are probably all too familiar with. You see, as women, we often find it difficult to share our stories with other people out of shame, insecurity, fear, or others (you fill in the blank). Growing up in church, we often feel like we have to have it all together, and if we don’t, then those around us in our church community are going to judge us for it. We put on this “act” instead of feeling free to show our true selves because deep down, we’re afraid that people won’t like us very much because of how we’ve messed up. Does this resonate with anyone? If I could insert emojis here, I’d use the female emoji with her hand raised in the air and say “me, me, me”. Like that eager student who wants the teacher to pick on them because they know the answer. That’s me, friend! I’d be first in line to tell you that I struggle with my identity just like everyone else does.   If-You-Only-Knew-Book-Review In the book “If You Only Knew“, Jamie Ivey authentically and sweetly lets you in on all her deepest secrets. With no holds barred, she walks you through her journey with fear and how God beautifully transforms her life and woos her back to Himself. This is a story about a woman who was captivated and held in chains by her secret sins, and how God transformed her life giving her the true freedom she craved. Freedom to open up to others about her journey, freedom to be who God made her to be, freedom from the lies the enemy told her about herself, freedom from the expectations she placed on herself, and so much more.  Each one of us has that “big sin” in our lives that we are absolutely ashamed to talk about. We think that we are the only ones and that if anyone found out about our “big sin”, that they would think less of us or think that we aren’t a true Christian because of it. In reality though, you will find someone that struggles just the same as you do. You will also find that once you open up to people, and truly let them get to know you and you know them beyond just the surface level, that every one of us is beautifully broken. We aren’t perfect, we fall short, we mess up. The beauty in this book has less to do with the mess ups of our lives, and more to do with the beautiful restoration that takes place when we put our full trust in Jesus and let Him do the messy work and clean us up, because truthfully, we are incapable of cleaning ourselves up the way Jesus can.  This book made me laugh and cry all at once. Laugh because of Jamie’s personality and her uncanny ability to tell stories that were both personal but also made you feel like you were having coffee together just chatting away about your life. Cry because of the reality that I too have felt the same way she has, and have personally seen the transformative power of God in my own life and my own battles with sin. I highlighted parts of this book practically every other page. Jamie was authentic, but she was also sincere in pointing every single aspect of her life back to Jesus. None of us can accomplish true freedom or true transformation apart from Christ. We just can’t. We are simply human. If we could do that, there would be no need for a Savior. Jamie’s story, just like yours and mine, shows evidence of not only our need for a Savior, but how much sweeter life is when we are living in full trust and full surrender to Him instead of ourselves, our sins, and our circumstances.  When we try to be someone for others to look to by presenting ourselves as “perfect”, we set ourselves up for disappointment and failure because we will never measure up. Through the telling of our stories, and the transformation of our lives through the gospel of Jesus–by becoming vulnerable–we are enabling others to do the same. We are showing them Jesus through our lives and our willingness to share our struggles with them because Jesus is the only one who has the power to change, and when we share our struggles and others are able to see a difference in us, they will more clearly see the change Jesus has made in us and the changes He capable of making in others. 
“We can own our story because it’s actually a testimony of the Good News of Jesus, who loves us, pursues us, and saves us in spite of ourselves” “We can be people who share our hurts, share our struggles, share our failures, share our stories. And we can trust without a doubt that God will get glory from it….from ALL of it.”
I used to struggle just like Jamie did with sharing my struggles with others, and I still do sometimes. But I am learning just as she has and still is, that God can use us any way He chooses. Even those of us who think our mess is way to messy for the message of Christ, and that He couldn’t possibly love us, pursue us, or use us. When in fact, He loves using people just like you and me. We are never too dirty, too sinful, or any other “too’s” you can fill in there for God to use us right where we are. We just have to let Him! If you think you are alone in the secret sins you face, then this book will be a great read for you. Know that you aren’t alone, and that God loves us no matter how far we run or what we do. He can use even me. He can use even you. If you are interested in buying this book to read, you can find it here or wherever books are sold! I am so thankful that Jamie shared her story, and how much it spoke to me as a woman who battles daily with that same fear, just in a different way and a different context. If you choose to read it, I know it will speak to you, too. 
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