In this LAST EPISODE OF SEASON 1 (holy moses!), Kait has a wonderful conversation with THE Jamie Ivey! Jamie is a podcaster, author, mother of four, Austin Texas native, working woman, wife to a wonderful pastor, and an all-around wonderful person. Four years ago, Jamie started a podcast called “The Happy Hour.” Currently, she has over 200 EPISODES, does public speaking events, and really lives up to her podcast name…since any hour spent with her is pretty happy.
Today, they talk about grace and vulnerability in relationships. This is a super open conversation, insightful, brave and moving. But enough talking about their conversation – let’s get right to it!
Could you share you story as it relates to embracing who you are amidst brokenness?
Jamie admits that, even though a big part of her story happened 20 years ago, it still had a big impact on her life. She shares that she grew up in a Christian home with a great family life. So, since she grew up happily in the church, she says that she would have called herself a Christian. However, when she got into high school, she started to pursue “the things of the world,” so she says. At 16, she had her first kiss, followed by her first sip of alcohol, followed then by her first sexual encounter. “I wasn’t a bad kid, though,” Jamie says. “I wasn’t sleeping around with whoever, I was loyal, I wasn’t doing drugs… and that made me feel not that bad. But I was living for myself.”
When she left for college, that mindset furthered even more. “I felt like God wanted my life to be no fun. So I went to college and did my own thing. And when I was 19, I got pregnant.” She had no idea that this was where her life was going to go, though, she tried to stay positive amidst the new future that was not her reality.
But her “rock bottom” was still to come. Two weeks later, Jamie says that she had lost her baby in a miscarriage. “It was this moment where I asked, ‘…Where am I? What just happened?’ And I was young! I was 19, and I had no idea how to grieve this loss as a child. Because I was kind of happy that I didn’t have to raise a child at 19, but that’s a weird mix of emotions to have.”
After this mix of emotions and extreme trauma, she moved back home with her parents and started to plug back into church. She understood that she didn’t really know who she was and she certainly knew she wasn’t following Jesus. Being in this introspective phase of life, she started to realize that there was a lot of pain involved in her previous lifestyle, but she says that she didn’t really recognize that pain until she was on the other side of it, looking at it and recognizing that she deserves better.
Then, she went to Passion Conference in 1998. “That’s when I really decided that I wanted to follow God. That’s when my life started to change.”
When coming to relationships, when we’ve gone through things that we put in “that box” that we just don’t acknowledge, do you feel like you looked to relationships to fill a void in your life?
“Oh, 100%,” she says. “When I was young, I can’t think of 3 weeks where I wasn’t in a relationships. I was trying to fulfill something that was never meant to be fulfilled by another person: contentment with Jesus. I don’t think I was allowing Him to be enough for me.” But Jamie admits that, even though she is married now, fear is still so present! Fear of being alone is a human fear, not a fear that is contingent upon our relationships status.
Kait says, “If we’re not looking to Jesus for our ‘fuel,’ we’re looking for something else. And that’s often times where significant others come in.”
You mention the term ‘sin shock.’ Why do you think that that stunts us in our dating?
A lot of times throughout the dating process, admitting and sharing our struggles with another person is one of the most vulnerable moments two people can share. It’s like you’re standing naked in front of another person. “There is a tendency,” she says, emphasizing the use of air quotes, “to be shocked. It’s like, ‘I would never do that, how could you do that…’ It can be so detrimental in a relationship because it puts so much shame in a relationship.” She says that it creates a cycle of hiding and a feeling of not measuring up to a person. In REALITY, though we should be looking to God to “measure up” rather than a person.
Kait adds that it’s very possible to be triggered in these situations to open up our thoughts back to the negative, toxic, dark places of the past. When we start to realize that our sin is washed clean, sometimes, people’s “sin shock” to our vulnerability can cause us to fall into that unhealthy thought process all over again.
To end this small topic, Jamie leaves us with a CRAZY TRUE bit of wisdom: “Vulnerability without Jesus is just, ‘Hey, look at me.’ But vulnerability WITH Jesus is ALWAYS pointing to the cross,” she says. “When you tell your story to someone, their response is often a great response of their understanding of the gospel. How big is their view of the gospel? How much do they understand that Jesus really took on our sin?”
What’s your story with Aaron? Your current husband?
Aaron and Jamie started dating in 1999, right after she started to call herself a believer. “On our first date, I said, ‘There are some parts of my story that I have to tell you but I’m just not ready to.’ And he said, ‘Okay. You can tell me whenever you want.’” The two laugh about how little patience they would have if they were posed with that phrase and how they would turn into professional FBI investigators to find out what happened in their life.
“This was my first relationship with a Christian, as a Christian, so this was pretty new to me,” she says. They dated throughout the whole semester, she knew that she had to tell him her story. “I prayed that whole semester – make it so clear when I should tell him – and prepare his heart for my story.” Jamie feared that he may not be able to handle this part of her life, and she was so intentional about praying for preparation.
“You know those moments in your life where you just know you felt God? I had one the night I told him,” she says. The two were at a retreat near the beach in South Texas. Aaron met her on the beach where she was praying, she told him she was ready to tell him, and he said, “Okay,” and he held her hand. “I laid it all out on the table. I didn’t hold anything back.” She admits that she felt a lot of shame and guilt about her story, but when she told Aaron, he said, “That’s not even the woman I know. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”
She says that it took her years to recognize that herself, but in that moment, she felt that that was as close as humanly possible a person could look at her in the way that God looks at her.
And a year later, they were married.
Wow. We’re not crying, you’re crying.
You say that nothing good comes from not being seen. What do you mean by that?
Jamie emphasizes the importance of understanding how much our sin hurts Jesus and recognizing that no sin is more hurtful to Him than another. She also says that when she grew up, she felt like the church said the two worst things that teenagers could do are to have sex and drink alcohol. “I think that set a lot of people up for failure,” she said. “’I did screw up, and now I’m damned to be no good.’ But God is such a loving God. And there is hope for those that have messed up.”
There is also an importance in being able to come together in a relationship and approach that relationship with the mindset of an “equal playing field.” Kait says, “All of the places where I felt healed from my sexual past were then hurt and brought up again when someone responded to me in a way of shock about my past.”
Jamie also says a news flash: SEX IS NOT THE ENTIRETY THAT A MARRIAGE IS BUILT ON. And if one person approaches the relationship from a self-righteous standpoint because they were abstinent, that righteousness will carry itself throughout the marriage. “15 years in, it’s not about sex anymore. It’s about something else.”
Let’s talk about timing. Some people are very open very quickly. Others are very afraid. What are your thoughts on navigating the timing of vulnerability?
“You’re going to get hurt. Because we are broken people sharing our brokenness with other broken people… Sharing you story is not about getting people to like you. But sometimes it is an ACT OF OBEDIENCE that God has asked you to be vulnerable about.”
Jamie says that going into a marriage with complete vulnerability is very VERY high on the list of importance. “For me,” she says, “it was super important to get everything on the table. And in a marriage, you do have to talk about really uncomfortable things sometimes.” When dating, though she says, it’s not always important to lay every single detail out on the table, it’s just improtant to challenge yourself to be vulnerable. “I’m not sure if you should be pouring your heart out to someone you don’t know if you’ll spend the rest of your life with them.”
The two also talks about how vulnerability can often times create a false sense of intimacy between two people. So, being intentional, prayerful and honest about your vulnerability in a relationship is also extremely critical.
What are your thoughts on casual dating?
After regretfully sighing after the mention of casual dating, Jamie admits that she is pretty ambivalent about casual dating. “As a mom to teenage boys, I think dating should be purposeful.” She does not want her boys to date, but she DOES want it to be intentional. “Giving yourself away – not necessarily physically or sexually – but emotionally must be so draining.”
Another problem with dating, though, is that a lot of people enter into the first date with the mindset of: “THIS PERSON WILL BE MY SPOUSE.” Which, like, isn’t necessarily true. The two agree that getting to know the person first is the best way to approach it.
What is your biggest nugget of dating advice?
She gets back on her soapbox. And we love it!
“I want single people to know that marriage will not complete them. The person you are dating is not going to make you whole. SO many people struggle with sinlessness because they feel they are not complete.” She says that marriage is a gift God has given her, but she views herself as no more valuable in the eyes of the kingdom.
“Your biggest calling is NOT to be a wife or a mother. It’s to lift high the name of Jesus.”
Webpage and podcast: Jamieivey.com
Book, If You Only Knew