Julie: Well today on The Modern Motherhood Podcast I am so thrilled to have Jamie Ivey with me today. Jamie, thanks so much for being part of the podcast today.
Jamie: Julie, I am so happy to be with you.
Julie: Jamie, you have a brand new book If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free and I am just delighted that I’ve had a chance to read it. I mean first of all congratulations. It’s amazing to get to see somebody get to have this experience and have this book come out and you just have such courage in this book. It’s absolutely incredible, so give us a snapshot of the book, the process for writing the book, how it came to be.
Jamie: I mean, it’s so exciting! It’s weird to think that I will have a book out there with my name on it first of all and then it’s weird to think I wrote all this down for everyone to read about my life. But, the book is called If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free and this book is something I’ve been wanting to write for a really long time. It’s just a story of God redeeming my life and I know for a lot of us that’s a very common theme. God is the redeemer. That’s what he does. There’s some parts that I think of my story that are not that crazy, they’re not that different, and then there’s some things where I walked through some hard times. The reason I wanted to write the book so badly is because I get to speak with women like you do and a lot of times I would hear women after they hear parts of my story and they would say to me, “that must be really hard for you to say out loud” and I started to realize that we have this whole kind of the phenomenon of women, and I’ll speak specifically to women since that’s who I speak to, who have things inside of them maybe passed sins, maybe current sin struggles that they are embarrassed of whatever it might be and they feel as though, “I can’t say these things out loud. I can’t tell anybody. What would people think.” And I get that. I lived for years thinking, if people only knew the things that I’ve been through what would they think about me and so that’s why I wanted to write the book. I wanted to share my story and then I wanted to encourage women to do things differently.
Julie: I love that you are willing to unpack. You are a pastor’s wife and I think for any of us who are in ministry and have that as part of our family vacation experience it’s really overwhelming to think about what would people do if they might know this that or the other of things that I’ve done and and issues we’ve been through and challenges in a marriage or challenges with a child and so I think that transparency really speaks to people in a powerful way. I think by your example women will actually find their voice because of your courage in writing this book.
I have a really precious friend who is now in his 80s. He was in ministry for years and years and he and I recently at a wedding together and I thought we might spend some time reflecting on just this incredible career that he’s had in ministry, all the people he’s helped, all the different things he’s done, and instead he really feels this burden that he didn’t, in the course of his ministry, help people discover the art of confession. I think in a lot of ways in your book it’s this confession and it’s kinda how to do it. Why do you think we aren’t as much of a confessional faith community as maybe we once were?
Jamie: I think it’s because we’re embarrassed. I think we feel as though if I were to say this out loud it would kind of ruin this persona that I’ve built up, it would ruin what someone thinks about me, and I think it goes both ways, Julie, I think it lies a lot on the confessor, but I think a lot of this honestly is what I’m seeing is it lies on the hearer of the confession. Now we are, as people who are Christ followers, we are to confess our sins to the Lord and he is the one who we sin against and who can forgive us, but there is something really beautiful about confession within our community. God’s pretty clear, you know, to bring our sin into the light so that he can do things to transform our world and, for me, I think a lot of it is that the people who are hearing our confessions are not handling them well. I’ve seen a lot within, especially women, of feeling like what would they think about me if they knew, that kind of thing, the theme of my book.
You know, I’m big into getting things out because, for me, if they stay that’s when they just fester, that’s when they’ll start to continue you grow. In my book I share a lot about past things that happened that I’ve confessed and gotten God’s healing from but, I mean, if I’m honest with you I had lunch with a girlfriend this week and I sat and cried with her confessing sin from this weekend. I was just not the best wife in the world and I want to be a great wife and I love my husband and I made some poor choices and I hurt my husband’s feelings and I had already confessed to God and I had already confessed to my husband, but there was something really beautiful about sitting across the table from her and she’s such a safe place for me and I was able to go to her, and what she did for me, was she didn’t just say, “oh you’re fine, you’re okay,” she actually quoted scripture to me. She actually reminded me that God paid for it on the cross years ago but he is still pursuing me to the end. She was talking about it from Hebrews and that was just special because I left there and she didn’t need to heal me, she didn’t need to forgive me, but the art of that community and confession it really is something I think that is powerful, Once you start to get a taste of it you realize that God can really really use it to grow you and your faith.
Julie: You know, I think you said something really important. Sometimes the person we’ve confessed to, that we’re trying to confess to, is not handling it well. What do you look for in a relationship, in a mentor, in somebody that you can be with to try to mitigate some of that risk because it is a risk? I mean we’ve all had things that we have entrusted to someone and they have not handled it well. So, what do you look for in someone as a friend that you know you have that safe space?
Jamie: This is the biggest thing that people are wondering is, “Okay Jamie, you’re asking us to be vulnerable and you’re asking us to confess and you’re asking us to do all these things,” but they’re either thinking, “I got hurt once before,” or their looking around going, “I don’t know who the first person I would do this with,” and, for me, when I look at the people that I feel safe with these people are passionately in love not only with the Savior God Jesus they love His word, they are invested in his word. I think the reason that helps is because these listeners hold those confessions in a safe space because they understand the depravity of all of our sin. That sounds really churchy, but it is really true you know Julie, people are saying, “Hey, I get how simple we are and how we’re all in need of a Savior and how Jesus is in the business of forgiving and redeeming us,” that when I come to them and confess something they understand how big God is in the midst of that sin. So, for me, it’s a really safe person when I know that they are grounded in the Word, that they love God, and that they really do have my best interest at heart.
I wouldn’t recommend finding some random person at church and dropping your biggest, darkest secret on them. You know. those take time and investing is a give-and-take type of thing. That girlfriend that I sat across the table with, I have done the exact same thing for her and so it is this give and take type of relationship, and I think we’re looking for people who love God, who love his word and I think they’re going to be a really safe place for us.
Julie: What role do you think confession plays in ultimately God being able to heal us of things that we’ve been through, because I think sometimes we think of confession as just going to lay it all out there, but do you see that there’s a healing component? I’ll throw the game a bit but I think there’s a healing that comes. What do you think are the benefits of confession when it comes to that long-term healing, growth and maturity?
Jamie: I think for me, I’ll talk about me personally, is that once when I get things out in the open they can’t fester in my heart and cause me to either get bitter or to take the sin pretty lightly. You know with that example with my girlfriend, I didn’t need to share that with her. I had confessed to God, I had asked my husband for forgiveness, and he had forgiven me, but the act of saying it to this person is also me inviting her in. She has full permission now to be like, “Hey, how are things now with you and your husband or how have you thought anymore about the reason maybe that you spoke unkindly to him.” She has permission because I’ve invited her in and I think that is pretty crucial in our growth is to bring people in, to allow them to say, “Hey, you get you invited me in cuz you confessed this thing to me and now I get to walk beside you. I think if we can find people in our lives that are willing to walk into the trenches you know, I have invited her into the trenches. Let’s go. You are stuck with me and I am stuck with her and I think it just produces something in me that wouldn’t be there if I wouldn’t have ever had to say that out loud to someone. I am not confessing what happened to all your thousands of listeners because I don’t need to, But I did do it to my one friend and that was all I needed to do.
Julie: Well, I think what you tap into in your new book that I love is the fact that, yes we want to have grace with each other, we want to avoid judging one another, but they’re absolutely is a place, a very important place within the Christian walk for us to challenge one another and call each other up to a higher level. I think sometimes for those of us who may have had a little bit more legalistic background we discovered grace and we forget that grace is awesome and we are supposed to be spurring each other on and encouraging one another and I think that so plays into what you talked about as well in trying to set a higher standard for ourselves.
Jamie: It’s hard to have a friend look at you and call you out on something, because, for me personally, I want to say first, “Mind your own business.” Leave me alone. You do you and I’ll do me, but it always goes back to the relationships that have been formed. You know, if I had someone that I barely knew come over and call me out I wouldn’t be at apt to listen. It wouldn’t be as easy for me to take that from them. This is why we value community so much in the Christian faith. Another example, the same friend, she’s like my confession friend. I called her the other day and told her that I have not been diligent with my time in the word. That’s a hard confession to make out loud because I have a Christian podcast, my husband’s a pastor and I had a season of a couple weeks where it was just hard for me and what I did was I said, “I want you to ask me about this.” I’m giving her permission to kind of hold me to a higher standard. Not from a legalistic point. But from the point that she loves me and she wants me to love Jesus with all I have and so I’m saying, “I need you to help me with this.” It takes a lot to ask. It’s laying down our pride. But, it takes a lot also to be the person that says, “Hey, I love you, and if you tell me that I’m holding you accountable. You tell me you failed again I’m not going to think less of you. I will keep loving you and I’m going to keep pointing you to Jesus” and so it’s both ways.
Julie: Right. And I think sometimes reason thinks that you know blasting people for a particular sin on our social media channels or drawing a really hard line affects change. It really does come down to that relational component, that trust, that being able to see how someone else is walking, I don’t get real convicted from somebody’s angry social media post.
Jamie: Me either. I’m done with that.
Julie: No thanks. No thanks. I think it’s all so fascinating in your book that you you really laid it out there and you’re very honest about things in your past. Now being so honest and direct, how did you navigate knowing that your kids, you know, could eventually read this book? I mean, sometimes in my prayer journals or my journaling time I might not say exactly what I’m thinking in case my kids find one of these years later down the line, so how did you navigate those waters?
Jamie: It was a hard thing for me and I had to really kind of think if I feel that God is going to use my story to encourage women, to help women, to maybe overcome some of the same things that I walk through and point women to Jesus, it came down to, am I more concerned about what my 4 children might think vs. what the kind of impact that we could have. We as in me and this book and my life, for the gospel and for Jesus and so it’s not that I’m disregarding my kids at all, but I also had to really believe that as God was moving me forward in writing this book.
I feel very confident in what I was saying and also I want to, not only be an open book with just random strangers who are going to pick up this book. Nothing in this book is something I would never tell them. My ten-year-old daughter, does she need to know these things in the book, no not at all but one day when we have the conversations about this she will know these things, of course. Obviously these are things that I would share with my kids anyway not as an, “Oh my gosh, look at the bad choices your mom made,” but for me, I hope it’s the same reason I share the book with everyone else and I pray that the message comes across as, look how amazing God is, look at how God redeems her life and still uses her and that’s what I want my kids to see.
Julie: I think sometimes we try to approach living from the perspective of “I just want to have this perfect. I want to make sure that my kids think I’ve had this perfect Christian life” and you know if we could live perfect lives then his sacrifice wouldn’t have been necessary for us.
Julie: I know so many mamas who are so afraid of their kids knowing some of the things from their past because they think, in a weird way, that means that then my kids will replicate what happened. So sometimes I’ll see the response being that mama will be even more strict with her kids or there will be more household rules as she tries to mitigate any kind of risk that her kids might fall into some of the same patterns that maybe she fell into in her teens or in her 20s. How can moms find courage to, appropriately and in a healthy way, and I think that is an important distinction, and I think you do that so beautifully in this book, to make sure that mommas do it healthy but also get over some of that fear about sharing where she has walked?
Jamie: I think it’s just something that you have to wrestle with with the Lord. Although that sounds really churchy, it is really true, because I know that I understand that fear. Julie, I dread the day that I have to tell my kids I did not save myself for marriage. We’ve talked about sex with our kids, you know they’ve all had to talk many many times. We are a very open, conversating family about that subject, but that day is going to be hard, you know it’s going to be sad for me, but I pray to God that they are going to see the gospel represented in my life and they are going to see I made some poor choices and that God never left me, that God still has a plan for me, and he still was in the business of working in my life. I don’t think that me sharing with my kids that I was sexually active before I met their daddy is going to cause them to be like, “Oh well, then I guess I can be as well.” I think that’s our fear. That they are going to just do what we do.
Actually, no, because we’re teaching them the gospel, I mean, if you’re not you know teaching the gospel you might not do anything but I just want to not say that because you know we don’t know what our kids are going to do and just to take some of the burden off our mama heart is that we can’t keep our kids from doing things and we cannot make them do things. God is the one that’s in control of their hearts and so our responsibility is to give them the gospel, point to the gospel, give it to them in our homes, all those things, Our kids make their own choices you know that is hard to grasp. I want to make my kids make all good choices. We would if we we could. But, I think it is an opportunity. It’s one more chance to show them the way that Jesus works and I think if we’re presenting our kids with perfect put together parents I think they’re going to be slightly misdirected when they get out into the real world and they thought, “Oh, I thought my parents never did anything wrong. Wow, I’m doing something wrong, what’s wrong with me.” So, I think we get a unique opportunity in our own homes.
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Julie: I think part of what I love in this message is that your kids will have access to it and then will know more of your story. I think sometimes moms can be really guilty of confusing naïveté with purity, meaning we think if we can block our kids from all kinds of different knowledge from knowing you know anything about poor decisions we made or different things that were in our past that somehow it’s going to ensure a purity, but that isn’t really the way. Where do you see sometimes we get a bit confused between this concept of naïveté versus purity?
Jamie: Oh, I mean, We want the best for our kids and so we think in our head if they don’t know these things then there’s no way they can either choose them or participate in them or be a part of them, when the reality is our kids are learning these things it’s 2018. Our kids are inundated with these feelings and thoughts and images and from media sometimes, from teachers at school and so our approach here in our household is we want you to hear about it from us first.
You know what? All our kids know about pornography. You know why? Because we don’t want them to hear the word porn or any any words that we can’t say on this podcast and feel as though I’ve never heard that before because what’s going to happen, Julie, is they are going to think, “My parents are dumb. They don’t know this.” I want my kids to know I’m not stupid. I know all these things. I know everything. I asked my sons a couple weeks ago if they knew what a word meant. I won’t say it here. It’s not like really really bad but two of them said yes one of them said no and the thing is I want them to know I know these things already when you hear these things. It’s not a secret cuz we know what secrets breed. They start to think, “oh my parents don’t know about this.”
Now, am I having this same conversation with my 10-year old daughter? Not yet, but I will. And so we really believe, let’s be the one to introduce our kids to these things not in like a bad way but introduce them to the word, to what it is so that they know the truth about it so that when someone presents pornography to them they actually have heard us say that this is something that will separate them from God, that this is a sin, that this is degrading towards women and men and children. That’s how we want to do it. We want them to know the truth about things before they hear it from their stupid, silly friends.
Julie: The person that you hear something from for the first time becomes the expert for you. I want my kids to, like you said, know I’ve got a window on this. I can help inform you on this. My mom and I laugh about it now, but she was so hesitant to discuss some of the difficult things with me along these kind of lines and we laugh about the morning after Mike and I got married. She said, “Oh, honey there were some things I meant to tell you.” You know, mom. I think we’re good. I think we’ll be okay. In my world when certain words started coming up and certain topics started coming up and the 6th graders were the experts because these were things I hadn’t heard and so whoever I was hearing it from for the first time was the one who was a genius on the topic.
Jamie: It’s so true.
Julie: I recently read a book by a guy who’s one of the major trainers for people who compete in CrossFit. I’m not a CrossFit athlete whatsoever but I appreciate what they put themselves through. And I love what he said. I do have my athletes walk visualizing what they do when they win, but we also visualize if things don’t go exactly the way we’re anticipating. How are we going to respond and what I loved about that, as I think sometimes as moms we try to create a construct that if we can just get the right filters on her internet and if we can just keep the bad channels away from the television if we can just make sure that their friends are all sweet precious little darlings then that is our strategy for equipping our kids. The world’s going to be pretty insistent on getting some messages and some images in front of them, so what are the strategies when your tempted. It’s not about trying to avoid all temptation. It is when you’re tempted you can stand and I think those are the kinds of things as moms we can be really intentional about.
What are some things you want to try to inculcate in your kids, temptations that you came up against that you found difficult to resist, what are some lessons learned that you want to share with your kids, and again It will be their choices, you’re absolutely right, but how do you think it would help to equip them to perhaps make choices that you might have chosen something different?
Jamie: Yeah, you know, our 3 oldest are boys and something that’s heavy on Aaron and I’s heart is the issue of pornography. You know I think I even talk about pornography a little bit of the book and, you know, when we were younger, it’s like you had to go find pornography and it feels like now it’s just kind of trying devour people and our young kids are at such a high risk. We have every safeguard in our house you can only imagine, and yet our kids were exposed to pornography one time. They were really little. They were at the salon in another room. I was right there and a little boy showed them a video on his mom’s phone and I didn’t feel good about it that day. They were super young and honestly I really think Julie that they don’t have a memory of it which that’s just like I could cry. I was just begging God for that because they were so young and I’m so thankful for that but I overheard them talking about it later. I remember when that happened, sobbing in my room.
Aaron and I realize we can do everything possible, we should do everything possible to protect our kids, and sometimes things like this are going to happen. For us we do a lot of kind of role play per-say, like I’ve had conversations with my kids about pornography. For example asking has anyone ever shown you anything on their phone or what if somebody does what do you think you should say how would you tell them you don’t want to look at that. I’m trying to give them language because there’s one thing that happens that we all remember when we were teenagers or older teenagers is that you don’t want to be the one man out. You don’t want to be the one that says I don’t want to look at that and so we want to try to help them. What is some language, what are some words that you can use to give them. We talked to her oldest son already. He’s not like going to parties or people’s houses but we know that’s on the horizon. he’s 14 and so we’ve given him language about what would be okay if it was there, what would be not okay if it was there, how can you get ahold of us if you need something, and then the major thing that I think is really important for parents, that I will admit is harder for me and easier for my husband, is to not freak out when things don’t go the way you think they should. Aaron is like, “calm down.” He can handle it. I go into what were-you-thinking type of mode and what that does to our kids is it just makes them not willing to come to us the next time. I’m personally, that’s a goal of mine to get through the next couple of years and react appropriately. So, that’s something we can learn.
We want our kids to know right and wrong, what is okay what is not okay for your family, but we also really want to be a safe place so that when they make a bad decision and, let me tell you they will, that they’re able to come to us and we’re able to kind of guide them. If there’s punishment that’s fine or there is consequences so be it, but they still feel safe and they still feel loved. I think that is really important
Julie: I absolutely love that tip to really roleplay talk through it, equip them with language. I think it’s critical and I think it’s awesome that you guys are are so intentional at doing that. I was on a podcast last week and it was the topic and we were talking about that place of wanting it to be safe for our kids, to be able to tell us whatever, to be able to confess. We also want to make sure we’re about the discipline of confessing our sins, we also want to be that place that kids feel like they can confess. We were talking about that need to channel your inner Meryl Streep sometimes when your kids tell you something and you’re floored but you keep this exterior on the outside that’s like “hmmm.”
Jamie: Yes, and inside I’m freaking out thinking, “When is your dad going to be home.”
Julie: In the book you discuss something that I think I’ve seen so often particularly in ministry to women, which is we can sort of get those reputations that maybe we didn’t want and certainly wasn’t our goal, but after a while we begin to think of ourselves with that label. You walk through several labels that you feel like you wore through the years based on the challenges that you were having the the send you were wrestling and yet even though we can come to that place that we didn’t want to be that person or didn’t want to be seen as that it can become this kind of odd, warm, safe blanket for us rather than going through change.
How did you finally learn to let go of some of the labels that you had acquired over time that in a sense may have been strangely more familiar than launching out into this new world of living a more redeemed life and and falling in love with a man who is a pastor and all these things that didn’t seem to be in line with the labors you had acquired over time?
Jamie: Yeah, you know, for me, one of the things I started to realize was that I was actually the only one labeling myself. For years I felt like everyone saw the labels I was giving myself. I felt like everyone was placing them on me. I felt like I would walk into a room and everyone would say, “She’s that girl” and I think, while there may be some truth to that sometimes, was that I was really the only one thinking these things. And that really became true to me when I moved away and made all new friends and they don’t even know my story and I still carry these labels. I think finally one day I was like. they don’t even know so how could they label me. They’re not, Jamie, you’re labeling yourself and so I started to realize it was just me that was carrying around these labels. It did seem more comfortable because it may be I know how to be the person that carries the shame. Or, even before I knew Jesus, I knew how to date this way and for me it was like realizing no one’s putting these labels on me. I’m the only one that knows about them.
It really goes back a lot to that community that we talked about earlier when I started to feel as though I could say things out loud and nobody looked at me side eye and no one thought, “Wow, that really surprised me about you” or “I never would have seen that coming.” When I started to be able to say things out or people weren’t just necessarily shocked then I started to feel the last some of those things go now I mean I shared at the beginning a few confessions I’ve made in the past two weeks. It’s not like these things go away. It’s just that you learn how to fight it. You know as I was sitting there across from my girlfriend confessing about being mean to my husband over the weekend I was labeling myself, you know, I was not worthy to be a follower of Jesus, I was a terrible wife, you know all of these things and she was able to speak into that with her love and reminded me of God’s love. I had to make a choice of I’m not going to carry these labels this week because they’re not really who I am. I may have felt like that over the weekend, but I’ve been forgiven, I’m going to put back on the identity I know I have, which is a child of God, redeemed, loved, all those things. The community helped me and then realizing I was the only one labeling myself and really making a choice that I’m going to choose actually to walk in what God says about me to be true
Julie: I love that perspective, that really confession can be a weapon to help really instill your true identity because I do think there’s a lot that we wear secretly that no one knows. Yeah, I mean what what is statement and how it can keep those labels. It’s like when you forget you have a sticky label and it runs through the dryer and you feel like it will never, ever come off again. But, I think through this tool of confession it can come off, even the residue you think is there. It can be peeled away when we begin to steal back some of its power. Secrets do have a power. They keep us so bound. God’s word talks about bringing them into the light and then all of a sudden they begin to lose some of their power over us.
For those mommas who feel like, but Jamie you don’t know the things I’m carrying, the things I haven’t said to my spouse, the things I don’t want my kids to know. What do you really want these mommas to take away?
Jamie: I think the best thing for that is I want women, I want moms to really believe what God says about them. That’s about them and you know I was I was telling a group of women the other day and I was like meant to the thing is about our Christian faith is it we believe something that if you really think about it it sounds crazy And then he sent his son Jesus and his son Jesus never said and then he died on the cross and then he was buried and then he rose again and he’s going to having to wait for us outside of the fact that the Bible is true and their lives have been changed. You know that sounds kind of crazy right and we believe that because it’s changed our lives. We believe it cuz we read about it, but yet we are so easy to be like yes yes yes I believe this, but I’m having a hard time believing that God can still love me or I’m having a hard time believing he can forgive this sin, I am having a hard time believing it’s as far as the East is to the West. We don’t believe those things about what he says about us and I think that when we start to believe that what he says about us matters more than what anybody else thinks, more than what your husband thinks, more than what your kids think, more than what the pastor’s wife at church thinks about you, more than what your coworker thinks, more than anyone thinks about you, it matters what he thinks about you. My desire is just for women to believe what he says about them to be true and I think when we do that our lives begin to change. Because he says that will happen and let’s hold him to his word that he will change our lives and that we will look more like him and that we will be the light in the world as well as so that’s what I want for women.
Julie: Well, what an incredible conversation with Jamie Ivey. Be sure and check out her brand new book If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free coming up January 30th. All kinds of gorgeous dialogue in this book about her experience and how she wants to use that moving forward. You can find out more about her at Jamieivey.com and on Facebook and Instagram. She is the host of The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Give that a listen. I’d love to connect with you more so be sure to find me at julielylescarr.com and and Facebook & Instagram. And, also AllMomDoes.com. We have fantastic posts by a team of women that wants to empower and inspire. Next week, we can’t wait for Jennie Allen to join us. She is the founder of the If:Gathering. Be sure to subscribe to us on ITunes and review us as well. We sure appreciate it. See you next week!
Snag Jamie’s new book If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free releasing January 30th. Pre-order now for some special goodies!
Bio: Jamie Ivey believes we are all on this journey of life together and we need each other to get to the end. Through her podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, and blog, she takes a raw and intimate approach to her speaking and writing. 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. Find her at jamieivey.com and on social media @jamieivey
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