‘If You Only Knew’: How Jamie Ivey Learned to Move Forward from Shame and Sorrow

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By age 21, Jamie Ivey felt like a fraud of a woman. Two babies lost, and she couldn't tell anyone about them. Her unplanned pregnancies remained a secret that would continue to haunt her for years to come.

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I was at work one day, several weeks after finding out I was pregnant, when I began to feel some extreme pain in my lower abdomen. Over the next few hours the pain increased so much that I decided to drive myself to the hospital. (Dumb idea, I know!) I called my dad from the car when the pain became so intense that I had to pull over and wait for him to come pick me up. He arrived quickly, and together we drove on to the hospital – my dad there, like always, to help his baby girl.

So here we go – worried again that something was wrong with another pregnancy. It had only been a year and a half since I’d previously walked down this road. And whether you’re married or not, the thought of losing your baby is tragic. I didn’t want to go through that kind of sorrow a second time. I was scared.

And wouldn’t you know it, but someone else from our church was seated in the emergency room waiting area when we arrived. You should have seen my dad trying to explain to this man, without spilling our secret, why his daughter was here, all while being deeply concerned and trying to comfort me. I was hurting too bad to really help much, but he was somehow able to fumble some words together, enough to apparently satisfy this person’s curiosity.

Then finally they called my name and escorted me back to a room, where doctors and nurses tried to figure out what was causing me such extreme pain, which was increasing drastically. Before long, it was clear the baby was in trouble. And maybe me, too. Something had ruptured, calling for immediate surgery.

I signed the necessary papers about the possibility of losing ovaries and what not, and then I was out.

I awoke to the good news that I hadn’t lost my ovaries, but to the bad news that I had, indeed, lost my baby. So that morning I’d been pregnant, and by that afternoon I wasn’t. It had happened again. I’d lost another baby.

And still today when I think about this memory, I cry. So much shame, intermingled with so much sorrow. All these feelings were battling with my heart because I didn’t want anyone to know I was pregnant for fear of what they’d think of me, yet I desperately wanted to mother my baby. It was a war I wasn’t prepared for, a battle I didn’t know how to fight.

I felt as though I was a fraud of a woman. Two babies lost and I couldn’t tell anyone about them. To the handful of pastors from our church who came by to visit me and the few others who knew I was in the hospital, we told that I’d had a cyst that ruptured. A plausible story, close to the truth, but certainly not the whole truth. The pregnancy remained our little secret, a secret that would continue to haunt me for years to come.

My love for the babies I had lost, my failure to even grieve their deaths well because of my fear of being found out, my suffocating shame at not being good enough—I kept it all inside. I tried toughing it out all alone. How I wish I could’ve just said, “Look, everybody, I made a really poor choice, and because of that, I got pregnant. And I am so sorry, more than you know. But I still love Jesus, I’m not through following Him, and I am truly a different person because of Him. I am only here because of God’s grace and forgiveness, and I want to live to worship Him every day for it, for what He’s still going to do in my life to change me.”

That’s what I wish I would’ve said. Or something like it. But I didn’t. I didn’t say it because I didn’t think they would’ve believed it, and some days I struggled to believe it as well.

But I’m here today to tell you—nothing good comes from not being known. I say all the time now that my journey toward following Jesus was super messy. I stumbled my way toward trusting Him. I fell flat on my face more times than I can count, and this story of my pregnancy is only one of those ways. I see women all the time who doubt their commitment toward God because of their messiness. They begin to follow Jesus, they give Him their lives, then they make a poor choice—usually a choice they’ve struggled with for years—and they feel as though they can’t do this Christian life. I get it. I’ve been there. Those feelings are real. But they’re also not truth. I know you may really feel like a failure, but it doesn’t mean you are a failure. I know you really do feel unforgiveable, but you’re not!

After my pregnancy, I had so many doubts about my ability to follow Jesus. I was dwelling on all that I had done wrong, instead of dwelling on all that God had done for me. My sin ruled my thoughts instead of the glorious grace of Jesus.

But I also began to understand how deep the love of the Father is for His children. My big sin (once again, all sins are big, this one just seemed super-duper big at the time) that I thought was so awful had already been paid for. God knew all the days of my life before I was even born, and He still chose to love me and pursue me. This is true for those of you who are stumbling your way toward Jesus as well. God knew how you would turn your back on Him, and He still chose to love you. God knew how you would harm your marriage, perhaps even destroy it, with one poor choice, and He still chose to love you. God knew you would struggle to accept your body so much that it would lead you to purge food from your system daily, and He still chose to love you. God knew you would drink so heavily that you would make choices that hurt those around you, and He still chose to love you. God knew you would have that abortion, and He still chose to love you.

If You Only Knew

In the book If You Only Knew, Jamie Ivey writes about her past struggles and failures. Her faith in God helped turned her struggles into a testimony of His faithfulness.

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