Welcome to the first 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- INSTBTW INTRO WEEK
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.)
Let’s Dive in!
As soon as she starts talking about this story she created, I wandered off and started thinking of mine. I thought of my original desire to dance, then I think about how fruitfully my soul was filled when I would teach and coach… but then I stopped my mind from wandering and I continued reading. Yet when these sentences were read I almost stopped breathing for a second, she says:
It’s the story where my toes can dig deeply into the sands of a glorious land called normal. A land I didn’t design but one where I’m allowed to nod in agreement before any changes occur. And I can veto all circumstances that don’t look right, feel right, or smell right. My lungs inhale fresh gusts of predictability and the wind is always a gentle breeze. Never unstable or stormy and certainly not brutal or destructive.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. xi). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
What caught me so off guard was the way she phrased: “My lungs inhale fresh gusts of predictability.” This stopped me because whenever I take a deep breath in it hurts and I haven’t known predictability in a long time. This made me realize that yes I have been through 3 career changes and I’m only 23 and that shouldn’t have been allowed, BUT even taking those dreams away, when I think of that story of normal without details, I always imagine that I am healthy, happy, working and weight bearing.
Q What about you? What are a few words that define your idea of normal?
I think it’s fair to say, that we know better than most, how easy it is to take our health for granted. That’s why I love sharing the spoon theory because it helps us and others think about all of the little things. I’ve been living the chronic illness life for a literal decade now and as I progress I still find things that I unintentionally take for granted all the time. More often than not, it’s the little things that I don’t take time to appreciate until I don’t have them anymore. Not that the big things don’t matter too, I just find that the little things tend to push me over the edge when I’m faced with a bigger loss.
Q Is there a situation or circumstance that you can think of in your life that isn’t what you thought it would be? What would your version of normal be around this circumstance?
For me, I have a couple things that come to mind but the situation that keeps pressing on my heart is in regards to our marriage and how I thought married life would be. Jared and I started dating 3 years into my medical journey and knew what he was signing up for (well as best as one could.) Now I was mostly independent outside of a few month gaps between 2015-2016 up until August 2017. I had no idea that I would become fully dependent on having a caregiver, and that I would also be moved to home care. I thought we would have our own place, that we would both be working hard at our clinic, that I would be making dinner every night and packing his lunch for work every day, that we would be very invested in our church, and raising golden retrievers. That is the normal I crave. God has been so good in giving us a place to live where I can receive help from family but have our own space to be independent, yet I can’t work, we can’t go to church physically very often, I can’t typically cook dinner, and we are on a waitlist for a service dog as we can’t raise a dog on our own with my health issues. This was not how I imagined married life.
We don’t just want to read the end of our story and feel good about it. We want to take the pen and write it ourselves. We feel very certain how things should turn out. But we live in the uncertainty of neither being able to predict nor control the outcome. Humans are very attached to outcomes. We say we trust God but behind the scenes we work our fingers to the bone and our emotions into a tangled fray trying to control our outcomes. We praise God when our normal looks like what we thought it would. We question God when it doesn’t. And walk away from Him when we have a sinking suspicion that God is the one who set fire to the hope that was holding us together. Even the most grounded people can feel hijacked by the winds of unpredictable change. We feel weighed down by grief while at the same time unable to get our bearings as the weightless ashes of all we thought would be fly away.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. xii). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I love control, which is ironic because I have an unpredictable illness, but I am amazed at the way I allow myself to become disappointed when this life (this life that He has never given me a clear blueprint for) doesn’t look the way I thought it should. I have had seasons where God and I have not “been on speaking terms” because life doesn’t look like how I thought He “told me” it would be. At times I’m guilty of taking my desired outcome or ending and twist myself into thinking that MY outcome (that I created) is what His divine outcome is going to look like.
This faith we work to have in God controlling the outcomes is messy, and historically speaking I see it go one of three ways. Some people just pray without laying the foundation, some follow Him and appear to leave it in His hands but behind the scenes have a plan B, and then there are those who lay the foundation, follow Him, and truly give the results to Him. I think of it like baking. There are the lazy bakers who just lay all the ingredients out on the counter and instead of mixing it all and baking the cake they just pray over the ingredients to become a cake. Then there are the doubtful bakers who follow the instructions they have been given and put the cake in the oven as they have given it over to God… but they have a store bought cake in the fridge as a backup in case God doesn’t follow through. The real trust here is found in the faithful baker who prepares the ingredients, listens and follows His instructions, and puts the cake in the oven leaving the result up to God with no back up cake.
Q Which baker do you relate to the most?
I used to be the second baker, and sometimes still fall back into that path, but I am working very hard to be the faithful baker.
Q How have you tried to control a situation so that it would turn out the way you thought it should?
For the situation itself, I have over extended myself and burnt out trying to do all the things on my own (as if nobody besides me can do certain tasks.) I also find that I try to also control the “image” the situation when things aren’t going the way I told people it would go. I have told white lies to help control how people perceive I’m handling the situation or left out key pieces of information so it sounds better than it really is.
Q What would be your biggest challenge if your version of normal isn’t the way things turn out?
I would find myself throwing a pity party in my disappointments and jealousy envying another person’s instagram life when I have NO idea the disappointments and struggles they are facing. I would get lost in a comparison game I should never have started playing. Ultimately I would be disappointed, because I put my hope in something other than Him. I choose to put my hope in titles, instagram worthy pictures, other people, and myself (as if I am suddenly so reliable.)
This is how the formula should calculate: hard time plus healing time plus staying faithful to God should equal the exact good outcome we were counting on. But if you are a human who has been doing the adult thing for more than twenty-four hours, you’ve probably come to the same stunning revelation as I have. We cannot control our outcomes. We cannot formulate how the promises of God will actually take shape. And we will never be able to demand any of the healing from all the hurt to hurry up.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. xiii). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q Sometimes God’s promises are big instantaneous answers to prayer. Other times they’re progressive. We need to recognize the process of the promises. Name some evidence in your life right now that God’s good promises are in process. If this is hard to see, list some things for which you’re grateful.
Even though it was done a year ago, my port was not the answer we wanted but has me home more and we can see His faithfulness in this. An extremely current piece of evidence would be that He is providing for us slowly, not abundantly, but just enough.
Q What are two things that you are currently grateful for or are seeing God work?
Though we can’t predict or control or demand the outcome of our circumstances, we can know with great certainty we will be okay. Better than okay. Better than normal. We will be victorious because Jesus is victorious (1 Corinthians 15:57). And victorious people were never meant to settle for normal.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. xiv). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
But what if the victory is only in part how things turn out? What if a bigger part of being victorious is how well we live today? This hour. This minute.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. xiv). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q Open and Read 1 Corinthians 15:55-58
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Q What are some words that would describe what your life would look like to live victorious even in the midst of the hard situation you are currently facing?
For me it would be unafraid, hopeful, and confident.
Mainly hopeful because I feel like I have become afraid of hope, but that’s probably because I tend to put my hope in other people when only God should receive my pressure for assurance.
Q What does it mean to you to be victorious regardless of how your circumstances turn out?
For me personally it means being hopeful and content in His will and being extremely aware of His hand in my life even when things aren’t going the way I wanted them too.
Q How does the promise that you will be victorious- better than okay- encourage you?
Well God is victory and we can’t have a victory if we didn’t have hope in the outcome, so it encourages me to be hopeful because God is always victorious in all things even if His victory looks different than I imagined. I want what He wants. It’s as simple as that.
Things to remember as we conclude:
–We live in the uncertainty of neither being able to predict nor control the outcome
–Even the most grounded people can feel hijacked by the winds of unpredictable change
–We will be victorious because Jesus is victorious. And victorious people were never meant to settle for normal.
–But what if the victory is only in part how things turn out? What if a bigger part of being victorious is how well we live today?TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. xvi). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Prayer from Lysa:
Lord, I admit that so often I have held tightly to my own plans and to the outcomes that I think should come to pass. But I know the story You are writing for me is so much better than any story I could ever write for myself. Help me to cling to this truth when my circumstances are uncertain and unpredictable. I declare my trust in You above all. Amen