Publisher and Publication Date: Nelson Books. November 13, 2018.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Disappointment.
Audience: A Christian who is going through a journey of disappointment, depression, sadness, and grief. A person who is not a Christian would be faced with reading Scripture, the Gospel message; and a concept that the suffering and disappointment has been allowed by God.
I follow the Facebook page for Lysa Terkeurst. Everyday when I read through the news feed on Facebook quotes from this book are given. It’s easy as a consumer to focus on the commercialization of the book, and miss its wisdom and importance.
I finished reading this book almost two weeks ago, but have needed time to process its content. Why? Because the story of Terkeurst resonates with my story. And it is easy as a reviewer to let the content become too personal in a way that thwarts a solid review.
After reading the title for the first and even umpteenth time, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way, I’ve chuckled to myself and said, “okay, how is it supposed to be?” I’ve lived long enough to understand: life does not turn out the way we think it will, it just doesn’t, and disappointments are a surety and so is suffering. Whew! Glad to have this first thought off my chest.
In brief, Lysa Terkeurst, over a short period of time goes through a painful marriage crisis and two health crises. It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way is the part memoir and part teaching on what Terkeurst lived through.
Sometimes to get your life back, you have to face the death of what you thought your life would look life. Page 2.
The word “death” stands out to me in the above quote. Death means the person or living organism is dead. The dead is dead. New, means something brand new is created. I will come back to this thought later.
I loved several things about this book:
•The visual layout of the book. The “Going to the Well” sections at the end of each chapter. This section is a “recap” of what was taught in the chapter. There are remember points, Scriptures to read, deep questions, and a prayer. The subtitle pages are two pages in length in bold block print. Important quotes are set off by themselves in the chapters.
•The chapters at the end of the book: Epilogue gives an update on her marriage, an additional one on her health, “9 Scriptures For Surviving The Times When God Seems Silent,” “A Prayer Of Restoration,” “Getting The Help You Need,” “Acknowledgements,” an index of “Scriptures,” further information about the author and Proverbs 31 Ministries, and two free bonus gifts.
•Terkeurst does not go heavy in to details about her marriage. She gives enough information that I understand the problems. The emphasis is on Scripture and what is learned by the crisis. Some readers may find her memoir lacking in details; however, it is important to understand the emphasis is to answer the questions of disappointments, hurts, and sufferings. In addition, Terkeurst could have gone the way of bitterness and revenge against her husband. I admire her humility and self-control.
•It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way is a heavy meal kind of book. This is not a book to whiz through each page like a popcorn snack. I read the book slowly. I read the book making marks on certain key points and quotes I liked. I wrote down a few of them on index cards to place on the wall beside my reading chair.
•The book is personal-directed and addressed to us. From page 208, “Just so you know, I wish I could take way every disappointment that nips at the edges of your happiness and sits heavy in your heart…..I’d offer you some warm slice-and-bake cookies and whisper, ‘I get it. Let’s chat.'” For a person going through a crisis, a friend is what is needed. Even the most introverted of us needs a friend who listens and understands.
•It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way is an excellent book for small groups. I feel it is better to have the group be all female or all male. Why? Because women may want to discuss things amongst other women without men present. Some aspects of life are painful, and we need to be in the presence of trusted people.
•Terkeurst addresses issues from “well-meaning” people. For example: gossip and advice.
•Terkeurst is transparent in not agreeing with God about her life.
•I wrote down 5 pages of quotes I loved. Some of my favorites are:
“Feeling the pain is the first step toward healing the pain. The longer we avoid the feeling, the more we delay our healing. We can numb it, ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist, but all those options lead to an eventual breakdown, not a breakthrough.” page 36.
“May we carefully choose what we remember and what we forget. I’m so quick to remember others’ hurtful words but slow to remember God’s healing words. We must set our minds and our hearts on things above by choosing to remember God’s words, repeat God’s words, and believe God’s words about us. We must let God’s Word become the words we park our minds and hearts on. We must let God’s Word become the words we believe and receive as truth. We must let God’s Word become the words of our story.” Page 65.
“We must sip the suffering of today, so we don’t have to drown in the devastations of tomorrow.” Page 183.
I’d written earlier in the review about the words “death” and new.
I’ve been married 36 years. It’s been a long arduous journey. My husband came from a very broken home. Both of his parents were abusive to each other and the children. It is a large family. My husband is the youngest of 8 children. A few of his brother-in-law’s took him under their wing and introduced him to the drug world. This was not just using drugs, but selling drugs and all the things that go along with having a drug business. Add to this, the other addictions that were present in the family and was passed down to the children. One of the addictions is sex. Meanwhile, I was 17 when I met my future husband. I had just ended an abusive relationship with another boy. I had no idea what kind of person this new guy (future husband) I was dating was really like. On purpose, he deceived me, lied, manipulated, and coerced. He was a great actor. For many years, people believed he was this likable guy. However, there was another person who only came out for certain occasions. After many years of marriage several things were revealed. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I chose to focus on that nice guy, and be numb to what the bad guy had told me he’d done. It’s a strange thing, and even more strange to try and explain adequately in words.
My husband has been through counseling. He is not a reader. He is not a person who will really talk about the hard stuff. He only talks about the mechanics of life. He wrestles with many things: anger, inability to express self, and the eating addiction. However, because of serious health problems he is no longer able to do certain things. Is it possible God allowed these health events to stop the “activities”?
Where does this leave me? I’ve chosen to stay married. Yes, I’ve question my sanity and intelligence. However, it is what I’ve chosen to do.
I focus on other things like reading, art, and volunteer work.
I’m a mentor for women who’ve been sexually abused.
I have a great network of close friends.
I have many interests and hobbies.
I cannot focus on my husband. I pray for him, but I have a life to live, and I want it to be a great one.
It’s difficult to talk about these things because people are judgmental, and not just in the Christian community but everywhere.
I’ve gone through periods in life where I’ve wrestled with deep anguish and anger. I’ve also had breast cancer, sent a son to war, have a special needs grandson, cared full-time for both parents, financial problems, and the death of close friends.
If I had not gone through the hard times what kind of person would I be? I don’t know. I know who I am today, a person sharpened by the hard of life.
I’ve been told many times, “Oh, you are so strong.” I never know how to respond to that. Do I say thank you? My usual answer is just a smile.
For me several things help, but even then I have nights when I cannot sleep, moments and days when I have a pity-party. Most of the time I’m good. No I am not numb anymore. I feel and weep and move on. The things that help me is daily reading Scripture, Scripture memorization, writing Scripture and helpful quotes on index cards to place on the wall beside my reading chair. Also, having a great supportive network of friends, having hobbies and interests, volunteering with children (this gets me out of the house and focused on others), reading self-help or psychology books, journaling, and art journaling. And the final thing, but not the least, is prayer. This is not necessarily quiet prayer, but I walk around my house crying out to God and asking Him hard questions and stating hard stuff that I feel.
Death means that thing is dead, and it needs to be grieved and buried. Some people move on by divorcing, I chose to stay. The new is newly created from a new way of thinking, responding, and living. It is a new thing, not a chapter 2 or 3. It is a new book and a new way of living.
Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19 CSB Incourage Bible.