Live the Life You Were Created For

A review of The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For by Jo Saxton

reviewed by Susan Martins Miller

“Is this the life you were meant to live?”

This is the central question author and speaker Jo Saxton challenges readers to face honestly. Aimed at women, The Dream of You is a candid examination of the ways our God-given identities get broken, the wounds and self-talk we carry, the baggage of our insecurities, the voices that overtake our own, the weight of betrayal, disappointment and disorientation. The chapters begin with letters from Jo that make the reader feel she is writing to individuals—that she sees individuals and knows well the emotional journey of broken identities and the cost to well-being if we do not walk with each other in community
to restoration.

Narratives of her own life form the emotional core of the book: growing up as the child of immigrant Nigerian parents in London whose marriage broke up early in her life, foster care, the aching absence of her father, her Nigerian community, her first introduction to church, finding her gifts and having them stomped on, marrying and moving to the US only to find the ministry vision that brought them to a new country altered outside their control, wandering a wilderness of personal loss, finding once again a redeemed identity.

An equal strength of every chapter is the biblical exploration of stories of Bible characters whose identities were broken by the same emotional wounds readers will recognize present in their own experiences: Esther hid her identity in order to survive; David’s potential was overlooked and questioned; Ezekiel lost his freedom, his wife, his community; Naomi was away from her own people for decades and returned a very different woman; Hagar endured harsh treatment and despaired. But none of these stories ended on these notes. These and others show the hand of God at work redeeming identities. “A healthy identity opens our life to abundant purpose,” Saxton writes. “As God has redeemed the broken pieces of my life, I find there is more room for all that He brings.”

Words from the final page bring this encouragement to open ourselves to God’s redemption of broken identities:

“Healed people can heal people.
Freed people can free people.
Changed people can play their part in seeing lives and communities changed.”
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