Welcome to the second week of The 2020 Spoonie Study! The Spoonie Study is a Bible study group intended for women with chronic illnesses who are over the age of 16.
Alright friends, if you couldn’t attend live that’s okay! You can either continue reading for the written version of our discussion or watch the videos on IGTV! If the links below do not lead you to anything more than a blank screen on instagram you can click here or head to @officialcassiemnolin on instagram and all of these videos are in the IGTV 2020 Spoonie Study Series.
SPOONIE STUDY- INSBTW CHP 1
Welcome Everyone! For those who does not know I am leading a Bible study for women with chronic illnesses, and each week we read a chapter, answer chapter questions, and do a life group meeting on zoom about the book It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst. Please note that this blog post is essentially the written version of the live stream that took place and is also available on IGTV (links above.)
Last week we talked a lot about what life would look like if we chose victory in Jesus right now where we are at, and today we need to start in the mess of it all. Especially in the disappointments we face. We are going to start on page 6 today, even though I know there is so much goodness in the beginning- I promise we will go back but for now let’s start here.
So the human heart was created in the context of the perfection of the garden of Eden. But we don’t live there now. This is why our instincts keep firing off the lie that perfection is possible. We have pictures of perfection etched into the very DNA of our souls. We chase it. We angle our cameras trying to catch it. We take twenty shots in hopes of finding it. And then even our good photos have to be color corrected, filtered, and cropped. We do our very best to make others think this posted picture is the real deal. But we all know the truth. We all see the charade. We all know the emperor is naked. But there we are, clapping on the sidelines, following along, playing the game. Trying to believe that maybe, just maybe, if we get close to something that looks like perfection it will help us snag a little of its shine for ourselves. But we know even the shiniest of things is headed in the direction of becoming dull. New will always eventually become old. Followers unfollow. People who lift us up will let us down. The most tightly knit aspects of life snag, unravel, and disintegrate before our very eyes. And so we are epically disappointed.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 6-7). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q how does that lie of perfection show up in your life?
I find that I try to project perfection and that lie shows up in my life wherever I project it. I think where we live in an “instagramable” and social media led world this question is a little easier for us to come up with an example, but for me I find that when I post anything, especially where anything medical is involved, I am OCD about it coming across as perfect. Even if I don’t do it as picturesque regularly if it’s on camera I need it to look that way. The lie of perfection is clearly seen when I look for it. I for sure bought into the lie that if it’s not perfect, it’s not acceptable; and that had me believing that authenticity is only accepted when you are authentically perfect.
Q How has the search for perfection disappointed you?
The search for perfection has disappointed me because even when I do everything right it doesn’t guarantee success. As far as my body is concerned I can do everything right and STILL have setbacks.
Q Have you ever looked at someone else’s image of perfection online and found out that their reality didn’t match up with perfection? How do these misunderstandings of other’s perfection taint our mindsets?
I have a friend who I envied in college. I especially envied her when I had to drop out of school. She had it all to me; she was in every club, she was friends with everyone, and she also happened to be the one to replace my parts in the college dance show that year (as I’ve said before if bitterness was a gift I would have it.) Then we reconnected about a year after she graduated and I should have graduated, and I found that her college life was intense, good but intense. It was demanding and left her burnt out and overwhelmed. I came to realize that I envied the appearance of her life, without even thinking of the demands of her life. I amaze myself at how I can turn false perception into “reality.”
Comparison is the thief of joy, we talked about that last week. I firmly believe that the enemy uses these literal pictures of perfection to add rocks to our backpacks of disappointment. I think that he uses all of these images to agonize us with reminders that others have what we don’t, to make the blows against us heavier than they really are, and to grow a spirit of discontentment. he thrives in the art of “perfection deception.” (also side note yes I know the “he” was not capitalized I just refuse to capitalize the enemy.)
We don’t even feel permission to do so or we just don’t know how to process our disappointments. Especially not in Bible study or Sunday church. Because everyone says, “Be grateful and positive, and let your faith boss your feelings around.” And I do believe we need to be grateful and positive and let our faith boss our feelings around. But I also think there’s a dangerous aspect to staying quiet and pretending we don’t get exhausted by our disappointments. In the quiet, unexpressed, unwrestled-through disappointments, Satan is handcrafting his most damning weapons against us and those we love. It’s his subtle seduction to get us alone with our thoughts so he can slip in whispers that will develop our disappointments into destructive choices. If the enemy can isolate us, he can influence us. And his favorite entry point of all is through our disappointments. The enemy comes in as a whisper, lingers like a gentle breeze, and builds like a storm you don’t even see coming. But eventually his insatiable appetite to destroy will unleash the tornado of destruction he planned all along. He doesn’t whisper to our disappointed places to coddle us. He wants to crush us. And counselors everywhere are telling brokenhearted people sitting on tear-soaked couches that one of the reasons their relationships failed is because of conversations they needed to have but never did. If we don’t open up a way to process our disappointments, we’ll be tempted to let Satan rewrite God’s love story as a negative narrative, leaving us more than slightly suspicious of our Creator. Why would He create our hearts in the perfection of the garden of Eden knowing that, because of our eventual sin, we wouldn’t live there?TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 7-8). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Alright, so I want to point out a couple different things.
The first being something I heard from Jennie Allen at the IF:gathering conference: we NEED to recognize that our thoughts ARE a big deal. Because when we let ourselves believe that our thoughts aren’t super vital, the enemy has us right where he wants us. he gets us alone, not noticing the thoughts we are thinking, and makes us feel like we can’t tell anyone about them.
IF THE ENEMY CAN ISOLATE US HE CAN INFLUENCE US.
Secondly, the question of why He (God) would create our hearts to desire perfection is one that can actually bring us closer to Him- not farther away. We were created in the image of God. God is perfection. We were created to desire perfection, and if He took away that desire we would never have a reason to find Him. We would settle, and as she said in the last chapter, “victorious people were never meant to settle for normal.”
Remember, this is a love story. And we will never appreciate or even desire the hope of our True Love if lesser loves don’t disappoint.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 9). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q While thinking about how when the enemy isolates us he influences us, how do you see this play out in your life?
He knows that I am my own worst critic, and that if I am not focused on who God says I am, I will focus on all that I am not.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the chapter.
She makes one of the most thought provoking, heart hitting statements of all:
Sometimes to get your life back, you have to face death of what you thought your life would look like.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 2). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The disappointment that is exhausting and frustrating you? It holds the potential for so much good. But we’ll only see it as good if we trust the heart of the Giver. You see, disappointment can be a gift from God that feels nothing like a gift at all. It’s unexpectedly sharp, and the Giver can seem almost cruel as we watch someone unwrap it.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 4). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
But disappointment isn’t proof that God is withholding good things from us. Sometimes it’s His way of leading us Home.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 4). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
That last part about “sometimes it’s His way of leading us Home” makes me think of our discussion last week where we briefly talked about how when we get too busy doing what “He has called us to do” to the point where “we don’t have enough time to spend with Him” He will make the time.
Q as you look back at the past, what gifts have come out of your disappointments?
I want to say something very important before I answer this. If you do not feel or see any gifts THAT’S OKAY! It took reading through this book twice to get to this place. Don’t force yourself to see the gift(s) just ask Him to reveal them to you and start there.
There are lots of things I can think of, but being housebound gave me the chance to devote time to studying His word, and by not being able to attend life groups it brought about the spoonie study!
Q Think about the disappointments you have faced and are facing. Are there any long-standing untruths you’ve been believing about your disappointments?
I somehow found myself believing that 1. My dreams are His plans (which can be true, but I need to remember that His plans are greater and better than my dreams) and 2. That the only way to fulfill is calling for me is in the one direction I decided would be best to travel when we all know there’s more than one way to do what He has called us to do and it doesn’t always look like how we planned.
This constant threat to our deep feelings ushers in depression, anxiety, callousness, and, quite honestly, a skepticism about the goodness of God. Unless. We see that all those harsh realities aren’t the end, but rather a temporary middle space. Not the place where we are meant to wallow and dwell. Rather the place through which we will have to learn to wrestle well. I need this wrestling. I have honest feelings where I want to throw my hands up in utter frustration and yell about the unfairness of it all. To deny my feelings any voice is to rob me of being human. But to let my feelings be the only voice will rob my soul of healing perspectives with which God wants to comfort me and carry me forward. My feelings and my faith will almost certainly come into conflict with each other. My feelings see rotten situations as absolutely unnecessary hurt that stinks. My soul sees it as fertilizer for a better future. Both these perspectives are real. And they yank me in different directions with never-ending wrestling. To wrestle well means acknowledging my feelings but moving forward, letting my faith lead the way. God knows before we eternally dwell we will have to learn how to wrestle well.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 9). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q What might moving forward in the midst of those feelings look like? How can you let your faith lead the way?
Living with a typically non-terminal yet lifelong progressive chronic illness can leave me to wrestle with deep questions about the goodness of God. For me moving forward in the midst of these feelings is not only allowing myself to grieve and process loss as it occurs but to then bathe than brokenness in God’s truth. I love in Romans where He says that nothing we go through will be wasted. That brings great comfort to my heart. It also means that my feelings are not the end all be all, yes I need to allow myself to experience all of them, but it does not give me permission to act on all of them.
I recently had the opportunity to act on letting my faith lead the way. (Well I’m sure He has given me lots of opportunities this was just the first one I ever TRULY seized.) We were driving home from PA and two hours before we got home my kneecap dislocated in the car. We knew we needed to reduce it before treating with medication and that I would need my straight leg brace. Our car was packed and even if we could’ve gotten to my brace suitcase, I wouldn’t be able to sit with my leg out straight. We also knew that if we put it back in, but it wasn’t braced, it would just slip right back out. In knowing all those things, we made the hard decision to just get home. I was crying my eyes out, and Jared was just holding my hand as we sat in silence listening to our car playlist. In that silence, I started letting bitterness (as you know I joke that bitterness is my reverse spiritual gift) and discontent flood my mind. The enemy got in my head in the silence and was influencing the state of my heart and thoughts. I recognized this and I asked Jared to put our worship playlist on. He was a bit taken back (I’m sure he thought I was going to ask him to play the jonas brothers or taylor swift) but he did. The song “see a victory” by elevation worship came on, and as the tears poured down my cheeks I choked out the words and opened my free hand. Friends, I don’t remember how we got through those two hours, but I have never felt God so present as I did in that moment. I hope that I never forget it, whenever I hear this song my heart beats a little faster and I long for His presence.
He will go where you invite Him. At the end of the chapter, she reminds us that when we let His soundtrack play louder than we are singing to it, we can wrestle well with it because we aren’t left to hold it all together on our own.
I challenge you to wrestle between these two gardens by, on your own, getting quiet, grabbing some tissues, and telling Him about the disappointments you are facing. Get real with Him. Tell Him about the hurt, exhaustion, and overwhelm. Feel all the feelings. Bathe in the brokenness, and then bathe that brokenness in the truth of His Word, and if you need help figuring out where to look for that truth in brokenness please reach out, I would love to come alongside you.
Try to also keep the truth in mind that we will not have to wrestle forever.
We won’t have to wrestle well, because we will be well.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 10). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Here are some things to remember as we conclude:
—Sometimes to get your life back, you have to face death of what you thought your life would look like.
—Disappointment is that feeling things should be better than they are.
—But disappointment isn’t proof that God is withholding good things from us. Sometimes it’s His way of leading us Home.
—If the enemy can isolate us, he can influence us.
—we will never appreciate or even desire the hope of our True Love if lesser loves don’t disappoint.
—God knows before we eternally dwell we will have to learn how to wrestle well.
—We won’t have to wrestle well, because we will be well.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 12). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Prayer from Lysa:
Living in the messy middle between two gardens is so trying at times. Teach me to wrestle well between my faith and my feelings when life disappoints in ways I never imagined. My disappointments don’t feel like a gift at all, but I’m going to trust You—the Giver of good gifts. Release an atmosphere of hope in my right-now life, I pray. In Jesus’ name, amen.
TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 13). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.