A Soul Bare Interview: Sex, Love, and Belovedness with Jennifer Camp

I hope you’ve been following along with our Soul Bare journey. Our regular writers, Tammy Perlmutter and Tanya Marlow, are featured in the new essay collection, Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption, published by InterVarsity Press. Tammy gave away a copy (hooray! But if you missed it, order one here), and last week we interviewed the editor, Cara Sexton, the woman behind the collection. 

This week, we’re pleased to share with you a gorgeous interview from Jennifer Camp. These questions will give you just a little nibble of all the goodness of Soul Bare. Make sure you grab yourself a copy! Hurry on over to Jennifer Camp’s site, too, because she’s giving away three copies! –AH

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Soul Bare

Q1. How did you get involved with Soul Bare?
 
I met Cara Sexton, the editor of Soul Bare, five years ago at the Allume Conference (it was called Relevant back then). We had each won a scholarship to the conference from Incourage.me. I had loved Cara’s writing–the wisdom of her ideas and the beauty of her words, and it was so fun being able to spend time with her, face-to-face.
 
When Cara sent me an email a few years ago, asking if I would consider writing a story for this book, everything in me said “yes!” I loved the heart of it — the invitation to join with other women to share the real, the brutal, and the beautiful — how desperate we each are for God and how we need Him to show up in our lives.
 
 
Q2. In your essay, you tell the story of using sex to feel in control and loved. What hope can you offer Mudroom readers who turn to substitutes for love? How did you journey towards seeing yourself as beloved?
 
I know how easy it is to forget that we are the beloved of God–or to struggle to believe it is something that is true about our identity at all. I know that it feels better–like the only option sometimes–to search for love in places that are known, familiar. We think we can affect the outcome. We have convinced ourselves that we will be fine if we take action, pursue love, no matter what the cost. We are desperate for love–it is how we are made. The problem we face in pursuing love in ways that God did not mean for us to pursue, in places where we struggle to meet Him, is that we are missing out on knowing God and trusting His love as the only love that truly provides everything we need, the only love that gives from a pure place, and sustains. 
 
It was a hard road to see myself as beloved. I pushed back against God for so many years–decades. Once I went down that road of sin, I believed, with all my heart, that I couldn’t possibly be someone that could be loved by God. You see, I didn’t know God–although I thought I did. But I didn’t know Him–for I believed He was removed, aloof, far away. I believed I had to be deserving of God’s love to receive love. And how could I be loved when I had sinned? I felt there was surely no hope for me anymore. 
 
I was so filled with pride to believe that it was up to me, my own strength and character, to determine what made me “good” or “bad.” It is impossible, you see, to accept one’s self as beloved if one’s heart has not surrendered one’s pride. Pride gets in the way of believing the gospel, believing in Jesus’ amazing love and grace that covers all sin–that He loves us and saves us in the midst of our darkness.
 

Jennifer Camps from Soul Bare

Q3. You also write about your abortion and the hurt and healing that came from that. What would you recommend to women who have made the same choice but are silent about it still?
 
Oh girl, I know this silence. I know how heavy it is. I know it is a weight that will surely pull you down, ever deeper, until you open up your hands, your heart, and trust God more than yourself. You are so loved. You are so loved. I know this sounds strange–but I know how hard it is to admit that this abortion was even a big deal. We push it down. We try to carry the burden of it on our own. We try to convince ourselves that we are okay. But we’re not. We’re just not. Yet.
 
Come out now, sister. Come out and share what you have been hiding. This burden is not for you to carry. Our Father gathers us up with people who can pray for us, listen for us, lead us to our Father’s throne–friends who will help us to see and hear and feel Jesus. And we need to do this. We need to lay down what has happened, what we have done, and ask Jesus to come and show us what He thinks about all this, what He thinks about you.
 
Q4. Where have you seen hope and healing in your own life from not feeling like you have words, that you were unlovable, and from your abortion? How has God brought restoration?
 
All of my healing has involved the hard work of letting God strip me bare–show me the reality of myself without Him. I am grateful, as strange as this sounds, to realize, just a little bit, how horrid I am without the love of God redeeming me and making me new and beautiful and whole. For in Him, despite what I have done, I am beautiful–filled with His light and truth and hope. He is in me, if I let Him be in me. And each step in my healing has been so hard, so difficult, and so beautiful too. There have been so many lies I have believed about myself that I have had to surrender to Him and replace with His truth: lies that I am unlovable; I don’t have a voice; I am not enough. 
 
God has brought restoration in each place of my heart that was not whole in Him. He continues to pursue us until we are whole. He asks us if we want to let Him do the work in us (and it can be painful surrendering lies, adopting truth) to help us be more whole in Him. And He will not stop until our time here on earth is done.
 
 
Q5. Here at The Mudroom, our tagline is “making room in the mess.” How has your messy story allowed you to make room for God and for others?
 
Awesome tagline! If I had it all together–if I believed I had it all together–I would have nothing to write, nothing to say to encourage anyone. My messy story is what I use to testify to the God who loves me and does not let me go. My mess is what leads me to the cross, again and again. It is what makes me desperate to hear God’s voice in my heart, what prompts me to finally listen for Him when I pray. 
 
I choose, finally, to believe He loves me. And believing in His love for me makes me curious to spend time with Him, to want to be with Him, to desire to hear what He thinks and what He has to say. God’s love gives me a voice–and this voice is His voice in me, His love in me. I worship Him in my words, my writing, my ministry. He is my life and my hope, and I pray I honor Him and bring Him glory by using what He has redeemed to be even more beautiful. I do this for the sake of the daughters He don’t yet know Him–who don’t yet know and believe how much they are truly loved.
 
Q6. How have you changed from that 15 year-old girl? What is your mission these days in your writing and life?
 
I pray my words and my life testify to the love of God–the reality of His love that is the only thing that gives hope and joy. I am no longer that fifteen year old girl, and yet I am still her, too. It is my awareness of myself without God (me at 15) that makes me realize the amazing love of a God who does not retreat or turn away or give up on His daughters, no matter what. He is beautiful. He is love.
 
It is my mission in my writing and my life to bring my Father, my King, my Friend glory by loving the people He brings into my life. And He has put it on my heart to pursue His daughters who need to know there is a future for them that is more beautiful than they can imagine. And our God wants to help them imagine it. And believe it. That’s the best.
 
Here’s a bit more about Jenn:
 
Jennifer Camps
 
Jennifer J. Camp knows what it’s like to chase down an identity not her own, and now she listens and writes and speaks to point women to Jesus. Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and three kids and is the author of Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things and Loop, a free weekly devotional for women. She is the co-founder of Gather Ministries with her husband, Justin. Connect with Jennifer over on her blog: jenniferjcamp.com.
Ashley Hales

Ashley Hales

Writer and Editor at aahales.com
Ashley Hales holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. But she spends most of her time chasing around her four children and helping her husband plant a church. She writes at AAHales.com and loves to make friends on Twitter.
Ashley Hales
  • Jenny Lowen

    This is a short but very heart-filled interview, giving me an appetite to gobble up the book! I so identify with what I’m hearing of Jennifer’s young years, as I too messed up those years of my life. God’s intervention at the age of 24 literally saved me from a totally broken-hearted situation, together with shame and of course, loads of true and false guilt. I’m thrilled that Jennifer has received restorative healing and now shares our Father’s rich love in her blogs, which I totally love and forward to family members, and share on my facebook page.

    • Jenny, you are such encouragement to me, sister. Thank you. Our Father is so good, so amazing!

  • Sophia

    Sounds like a vulnerable and deep book!

    • I think the vulnerability here, of so many authors, make is beautiful and powerful. Thank you so much for reading, Sophia! That means so much!

    • It is SO vulnerable. Beautiful.

  • Kelsi Mata

    I’ve been looking into reading more books and this one seems like a great addition!

    • Thank you, Kelsi! I love the diversity of stories here!

    • Awesome, Kelsi! Thanks! I think you will love all these stories of redemption!

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  • Definitely look forward to reading this book. I just love Jennifer’s heart!

    • Thank you, sweet Harmony! I think you will be encouraged by the stories here!

  • Alaina

    Look8ng fowars to reading this book!

  • Alaina

    Looking forward to reading this book!

  • Celeste Montalvo

    This seems really really cool. Seems like it would be a really great and eye opening book and I can’t wait to read it. Have a good day and stay encouraged ladies!!!

    • I love the breadth of stories in Soul Bare, Celeste. So much redemption!

  • Julia Kirk

    Looking forward to reading this book. I love your openness and vulnerability. I think it’s awesome that you allow God to use you to minister to others. I too use my broken messy past to lead people to the cross. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Julia, Thank you so much for your encouragement, sister. I love that you surrender your story for Him. I love seeing God through the way He turns all the tough things into something beautiful. Bless you!

  • Jen Alward

    Great stuff, gives hope to many and glory to God. Thank you for being authentic!

    • Thank you so much, Jen! I so appreciate your encouragement. Bless you!

  • Ayo

    I love how you truly bared your soul and opened up your heart for Christ to come in,you’re an inspiration to me.

    • Ayo, thank you. What I am not happy about is how long it took me to let God open up my heart. But He is so good, so persistent, so loving, so patience and steadfast. I am so thankful that He never leaves! So wonderful to meet you here! I pray God continues to whisper to our hearts!

  • Sandra Slabbert Share

    Awesome, cannot wait to read this book. I love and look forward to every “Loop” it speaks to my heart everytime, I am sure this book will to!
    .

    • Sandra, I am so thrilled that you hear God’s whispers to your heart through Loop. That is so awesome! I am so thankful you are here with me, sister. I love that we get to listen together!

  • Paige Ivy

    This book looks wonderful! I just recently (within the last 6 months) began diving deeper into my relationship with God, following marriage preparation. Gather Ministries and Loop have been great lifelines, and everything I’ve been introduced to has been life changing. I can’t wait to read this book – especially your story, Jennifer. It feels very personal and like something I will be able to relate to, something that will help me grow even more in my journey. Thank you!

    • You are so kind, Paige! I am so grateful for you–for you being here with me, listening for God’s voice in our hearts. Bless you as you continue to pursue Him and follow Him and He guides You deeper in! I am right there with you, sister. praying the same thing for myself! 🙂

  • Amy Dowty

    Thank you for sharing your story

  • Elsie Davies

    Thanks for sharing your stores. I too pray that God will used me to share my message, I am still waiting to see and hear from the Lord on how. I believe through our testimony to others going through similar trails, that a person can hear the truth about the gospel and who God truly is, not what society paint him to be, but the true God of the Bible.

  • N Schultz

    I have been so blessed by the Loop devotionals. I am so looking forward to reading this book and being challenged and inspired by the real stuff.

    • I am so, so thrilled, sister! So happy to connect with you here!

  • Stephanie Sample

    I’m in such a hard season, and well past the age I thought I’d still find myself arriving in it. “Surely,” I thought in my 20s, my 30s, my 40s, ” this will be the last time I go through this.” Yet, here I am. And then… And then! This morning, here you are telling me exactly what I need to hear. What I already know, but keep pushing down. It’s time to tell the whole, ugly truth and let my Abba turn it to beauty. Thank you, Jennifer!

    • Oh, yes, girl, do it. You are not alone. You are so loved. He is pursuing you now. Praying now for courage and protection of your heart as you lean in, in Jesus’ name. There is so much good in store!

  • These words have moved me. Such a deeper connection in the acceptance of redemption. Would love to read more stories like this. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Hi Janelle, I think you would love these stories. It is so encouraging to read stories where women are not holding back on the brutal and the beautiful.

  • Lynne Desjardins Joncas

    Jennifer you speak so openly about painful subjects-for each of us the road looks a little (or a lot) different but we are all on our way to understanding who we are in God and how limitless His love is…thank you for sharing!

  • Suzanne

    This sounds like a book that will make many women re-examine their lives. It will allow women to open up the dialogue of their past and how it plays a role in their lives….

    • Hi Suzanne, I pray that it does. I love how God loves these conversations we have with Him!

  • Crissy D

    This is amazing and I cannot wait to read this book. I am still on a hard journey so the words of others can be encouraging.

    • Hi Crissy, praying now, sister, for you to feel Jesus’ arms around you on this road. Bless you, His dear one.

      • Crissy D

        Thank you! Bless you.

  • Marie Bride

    I so enjoy anything Soul related and Thank You for this opportunity to win!
    Blessings!!!

    • What a joy to share this book! Thank you for your encouragement, Marie!

  • Sally Collins Mellinger

    Thank you.

  • Lynn Pottenger

    thank you for sharing your story.

    • You are so welcome, Lynn! What an honor to be asked to dig deep and try to give answers to Ashley’s such beautiful questions! The Mudroom is a beautiful place. 🙂

  • Robin Reusch

    This has touched my soul. So much work to do, yet I know He is there with me working it out… Thank you for sharing so honestly

    • Robin, yes He is here with us. How beautiful and amazing this is! I love meeting you here, sister! Bless you!

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Jennifer, I remember a beautiful encounter with you at Allume 2013. I knew you would write a book and share your story. I was going to say that sadly I share the experience of abortion, but I am no longer sad, no longer weighed down by grief and shame. How I wish I had not done what I did, but when I finally came out into the light, God completely set me free. There is true joy in that and knowing for the first time in my life (despite that I had been a Christian for years), that Christ truly loved me and that God had buried my sin of abortion in the depths of the ocean to be remembered no more. But you have to come into the light. You have to bare your soul and let someone know. I’m so glad that you did, and so grateful for God’s grace to allow me to do the same. I truly know freedom in Christ and can share the good news that there is no sin that Jesus has not paid for or that God will not forgive. You are a beautiful, gifted lady, and I thank you for your courage and your transparency and your willingness to come out and walk in the light.
    Muchlove,
    Lynn

  • Amanda Morgan

    Love this! I can relate on many accounts and have an excellent testimony as well! This has actually inspired me to be more open about what I’ve been through and use it as a way to show God’s grace and love!

  • Priscilla Kramer

    What a beautiful testimony. We all have a story to tell. Thank you for sharing Jennifer. God bless you as you continue to spread the words God gives you to encourage other women and lead the to Jesus.

  • Susan Langer

    Thank you for sharing your story, Jennifer. All of us carry a story that we try to clean up ourselves before we get to God. But later we find that God was waiting with open arms and knew us all along and loved us just as we were.

  • Al Yuen

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing your story. It is so true that those who are forgiven much, love much! Be blessed.

  • Nikki

    Appropriately it’s Women’s month in South Africa and it’s precious and special to hear and read women’s testimonies of healing by a God whose love never fails! Thank you for sharing yours world wide x

  • Marjan Schram

    Thank you for having the courage to share. It took 20+ years and reading and rereading Psalm 32:5 in October of 2010 to believe the message of truth you so beautifully share. The freedom was and is truly amazing! I never in a million years expected the encouragement that I have received from the parents of the youth with whom I share my testimony.

  • Keli

    This is beautiful. I absolutely love that you are so transparent and open with your past and struggles. I too grew up thinking in my mind that I could never live up to the expectations and commitments that I thought it took to be a “good” Christian. I have recently realized that he is there loving me even when I don’t measure up in my mind. Although I don’t know your whole story, I can say I’ve made similar mistakes in my past and see that God is the only one who can fill the void of needing love and acceptance. Thank you for your obedience to his calling. Even those decisions are not the easiest at times. Much love and blessings to you!

  • Elise Gerard

    “God’s love gives me a voice” – love that! I’m just so cautious about using that voice on this particular topic though. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Stacie Varga

    Thank you! Went right and bought soul bare on kindle. Found out about breathing Eden and counting to when I can buy it. You are inspirational!❤️

  • Deitra Hultgren Shoemaker

    Thanks for your honest vulnerability. This spoke to right where I am today and I heard a sacred echo through your words in what God said to me this morning.

  • Stephanie Porter

    I praise God for your ministry and your obedience in fulfilling it. The number of women the Lord touches and reaches through you is innumerable. God bless you! Thanks for the opportunity to win this raw, real life everyday people type of book.

  • Yolanda

    Thank you for sharing your story. Would love to read the book 🙂

  • Wanyana Deniz

    Your story relates so much to mine, even worse. Am still struggling with the psychological tourture and regret.

  • Pamela Finocchio

    Thank you for sharing! I would so love to read this book!

  • Lalannie Knoll

    Since reading my first article by Jennifer, I have been hooked. Never before have I received answers to my questions regarding God in such a clear and direct manner.

  • Dalia

    Thank you for sharing your struggles. It’s so inspiring to know that we are not alone in this journey.

  • Debbi G

    Thank you for your honesty – it gives me hope that someday I might be able to lift my head –

  • Thank you, Jennifer 🙂

  • JessC

    Thank you. I’m looking forward to this book.

  • Carol Ann Vaughan

    Open n honest, sounds like a really good book, looking forward to being able to read it x

  • Sierra

    I look forward to reading the book 🙂

  • Kelly Kiggins-Lund

    Thank you for being open and allowing God to transform your brokenness into something beautiful that brings Him glory, Jennifer. May God bless you as you continue to be a blessing to others!

  • Abby Reier

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. Can’t wait to read the book!

  • Deryn

    Thank you for your story, it brought tears to my eyes. How we are to love the people God brings across our paths, to love them with that deep healing compassion ans acceptance. Your story of redemption embodies this.

  • Cannot wait to read this!

  • Kim Smith Boswell

    Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading this book

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  • Jenn, thanks so much for sharing your storyl You give so much hope. Your heart of love shines through loud and clear. May God continue to bless you and use you for His glory and to help and encourage others!

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