New York Times bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst unveils her heart amid shattering circumstances and shows readers how to live assured when life doesn't turn out like they expected.
What do you do when God’s timing seems questionable, His lack of intervention hurtful, and His promises doubtful?
Life often looks so very different than we hoped or expected. Some events may simply catch us off guard for a moment, but others shatter us completely. We feel disappointed and disillusioned, and we quietly start to wonder about the reality of God’s goodness.
Lysa TerKeurst understands this deeply. But she's also discovered that our disappointments can be the divine appointments our souls need to radically encounter God. In It's Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa invites us into her own journey of faith and, with grit, vulnerability, and honest humor, helps us to:
- Stop being pulled into the anxiety of disappointment by discovering how to better process unmet expectations and other painful situations.
- Train ourselves to recognize the three strategies of the enemy so we can stand strong and persevere through unsettling relationships and uncertain outcomes.
- Discover the secret of being steadfast and not panicking when God actually does give us more than we can handle.
- Shift our suspicion that God is cruel or unfair to the biblical assurance that God is protecting and preparing us.
- Know how to encourage a friend and help her navigate hard realities with real help from God's truth.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times bestselling author of Uninvited and The Best Yes. She writes from her sticky farm table and lives with her family in North Carolina. Connect with her at www.LysaTerKeurst.com.
Read an Excerpt
BETWEEN TWO GARDENS
My hands were shaking as I dialed a number I'd called hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. It was 5:34 a.m. I knew the minute my friend picked up the call, the horror of what I'd just discovered would be real. I didn't want it to be real. And maybe if I kept it to myself, I could deny the hurt that was threatening to swallow me whole.
But pretending away reality never makes things better. It just causes you to implode on the inside while smiling on the outside. That's no way to live.
Sometimes to get your life back, you have to face the death of what you thought your life would look like.
I was staring that kind of death in the face when I heard my friend whisper a sleepy but slightly panicked, "Hello? Lysa? Are you okay?"
I most definitely was not.
And I wouldn't feel okay for a very long time. The feelings of safety and security in my marriage that I'd treasured for more than two decades were suddenly ripped away, leaving my heart raw and my soul trembling.
Even now, more than two years after the fact, I still struggle with the distance between what I thought would be and what is. I have days so far from okay I want to send a text message to that missing good feeling and demand its return.
But this isn't something isolated to the white brick house that sits at the end of my driveway. This thought gets tangled around you too. It comes in like a whisper through the smaller disappointments. A bad haircut. An overflowing dishwasher. A burned dinner. A child who won't listen today. A scale that keeps going up and a bank account that keeps going down.
Then the whisper graduates into a louder voice with the friend who goes silent for a while. The job you didn't get. The harsh words spoken to you by someone you're desperate to hear some encouragement from. That underlying sense that your marriage has grown cold while your conversations are constantly heated. The lonely feeling you didn't think you'd have at this stage of life.
Then the disappointment roars with earth-shattering thunder with a call from the doctor and a diagnosis that flips life upside down. The discovered affair. The hidden addictions. The child you don't even know anymore. The fire. The bankruptcy. The breakup. The death so unexpected you keep calling their number just hoping this is all a bad dream and surely they'll answer this time.
I don't know when these disappointments, big and small, are coming my way. They just show up. An unexpected guest that I don't know what to do with.
This guest of disappointment exhausts me.
But I don't have to tell you that.
It frustrates and exhausts you too.
Life isn't turning out the way we thought it would.
Disappointment. Whether you've used that word or not, it's there. And I want to wrap a little vocabulary around the feelings that are affecting us more than we realize or dare to verbalize.
It's that feeling things should be better than they are. People should be better than they are. Circumstances should be better than they are. Finances should be better than they are. Relationships should be better than they are.
And you know what? You're right. Everything should be better than it is. It's no wonder that I'm exhausted and that you are too. Stay with me here, and let me unpack something that Satan has viciously fought to keep us from knowing.
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. Their fingers will bleed. They will feel tricked and so very tempted to stop trusting that anything good can be found within. They will most certainly question the One who allowed it to come their way.
I've done all those things. I certainly threw out many deep, sob-filled questions about how God could allow this when I called my friend at 5:34 a.m.
But disappointment isn't proof that God is withholding good things from us. Sometimes it's His way of leading us Home. But to see this and properly understand what's really going on, we must take a step back and view it in the context of God's epic love story. The one in which He rescues and reconciles humanity to Himself.
So, let's lay down our questions about why these things are happening for just a bit. We'll pick them back up after we are better equipped with truths through which we can process them. And let's open up God's answers, God's ways, God's Word. I promise you won't find flimsy bumper sticker quotes that never help and often hurt. Together we are going to find a real help and a true hope and a God who will hold us safe through it all. Let's start at the very beginning.
Genesis tells us that the human heart was created in the perfection of the garden of Eden.
Can you imagine what the world looked like when God first created it? When He said it was all good. Very good. And it was all perfect.
Perfection's symphony filled the atmosphere. Everything ebbed and flowed in complete harmony. It sang with the richest tones. And danced with ridiculous precision. There was nothing that didn't look right or feel right. It was beautiful and peaceful and fulfilling. There was perfect peace in relationships. Adam and Eve were so beautifully connected to each other, and they lived in the perfect presence of God. It was paradise with unique intimacy where God would interact in direct relationship with Adam and Eve. There was perfect provision and perfect fulfillment of their purpose. There was no sadness or confusion or injustice. There was no disease or divorce or depression or death. There were no misaligned motives, no manipulations, no malicious intentions.
It was everything you could ever dream up and then so much more than that.
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.
But we aren't talking about it.
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?
I mean, once Adam and Eve sinned, couldn't God strip the awareness and craving for perfection out of their hearts before He banished them from the garden? Yes, He certainly could have done that. But to strip out the cause of our disappointment would also rob us of the glorious hope of where we are headed.
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. The piercing angst of disappointment in everything on this side of eternity creates a discontent with this world and pushes us to long for God Himself — and for the place where we will finally walk in the garden with Him again. Where we will finally have peace and security and eyes that no longer leak tears ... and hearts that are no longer broken.
The Bible begins with the book of Genesis, set in the first garden of Eden. But never forget, it ends with Eden restored in the last chapters of Revelation, the last book.
"Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" (Revelation 21:3–5)
Notice all the feeling words used to describe the world we currently inhabit: mourning, crying, and pain. Utter disappointment often taps the place of deep tears. As we talked about earlier, everything on this side of eternity is in a state of decay. This is simply the natural result of sin entering the equation. Bright days become dark nights. The laughter of living will be eclipsed by the tears of dying. The excitement of this moment is torn away by the disappointment of the next moment. This constant threat to our deep feelings ushers in depression, anxiety, callousness, and, quite honestly, a skepticism about the goodness of God.
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. Do you see the encouragement God is giving us in the passage from Revelation 21 to help us do this when our feelings beg us to doubt our faith? He will stop the continuum of decay and death and utter disappointment. He will make everything new!
In this restored garden of Eden the curse will be lifted and perfection will greet us like a long-lost friend. There will be no gap between our expectations and experiences. They will be one and the same. We won't be hurt. We won't live hurt. We won't be disappointed, and we won't live disappointed. Not in people. Not in ourselves. Not in God. Our feelings and faith will nod in agreement. We will return to a purity of emotion where we can experience the best of our hearts working in tandem with the absolutes of truth.
We won't need to wrestle well between our feelings and our faith in the new Eden, because there will be no competing narrative about God's nature. There will be no corruption of God's nurture. There will be no contrary notions about why God allows things to happen. And there will be no gnawing fear that things might not turn out okay.
We won't need to wrestle well, because we will be well. Whole. Complete. Assured. Secure. Certain. Victorious. And brought full circle in our understanding of truth.
But, as I said at the very beginning of our discussion here, we don't live in the perfection of Eden or the yet-to-come Eden restored. Therefore, today we must understand our need to wrestle well in this space between two gardens. And we must learn to live and love in the imperfect rhythms of our clunky humanity, trying to stay on beat within a symphony of divinity.
We will get the words to the song wrong sometimes.
We will go off-key and offbeat.
We will go sharp, and we will fall flat.
But if God's symphony continues to play loud and strong as the ultimate soundtrack of our lives, we will sense how to get back on track. We will feel how to get back in rhythm. We will hear how to get back in tune.
It's just like when I sing along in my car with a well-produced song. With that soundtrack blaring along with me, I sound amazing. But it's not because I'm suddenly a master musician. It's because the master musician is louder than me, guiding me, holding me in key and on beat. I wrestle well with the song, because I'm not left on my own to hold it all together.
But heaven help us if I turn the radio down and pick up a microphone to sing it all by myself.
I won't wrestle well. I will wrangle what was beautiful music into an unrecognizable tangle of unpleasant sounds. I will add to the chaotic noise of this world, but I'll miss the glorious soundtrack meant to remind me of the epic love story I'm destined to live with the Great Lover of my soul.
So, that's the point of this book. Plain and simple. I want to learn to wrestle well in this life between two gardens. And I want to open the gift of disappointment and release the atmosphere of hope contained within. I'm so thankful we get to do this together.CHAPTER 2
I grabbed my chest while tears slipped down my cheeks in an unending stream. The pain in my heart wasn't physical. But the stabbing emotional hurt was so intense I could hardly breathe. My hands were shaking. My eyes were wide with fear. My mouth felt paralyzed.
My life had gone from feeling full and whole to being obliterated beyond recognition.
I'd been hurt plenty of times in my life. But nothing like this.
After twenty-five years of marriage partnership, I had no choice but to tell my husband, "I love you. And I can forgive you. But I cannot share you."
Never had I felt more shattered and alone. And then, adding more salt to the wound, people started talking. I'd kept this hell I was walking through private, telling only a few friends and counselors. They were tender and helped me in ways I'll never be able to repay. There are some really good people on this earth. But others weren't so understanding or compassionate. And now realities and rumors were crushing me. I was experiencing the death of my "normal life." But people don't have funerals for "normal." I was dealing with extreme grief from losing the person I loved the very most in this world. But instead of visiting a gravesite and mourning a death, I was visiting the rumor mill and being devastated by all the theories and opinions. My pillow was soaked with tears of which only I knew the real source. Not only was I dealing with deep personal pain, but I was experiencing firsthand the way broken people sometimes contribute to the brokenness of others.
We live in a broken world where broken things happen. So it's not surprising that things get broken in our lives as well. But what about those times when things aren't just broken but shattered beyond repair? Shattered to the point of dust. At least when things are broken there's some hope you can glue the pieces back together. But what if there aren't even pieces to pick up in front of you? You can't glue dust.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "It's Not Supposed to Be this Way"
Copyright © 2018 Lysa TerKeurst.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Between Two Gardens, 1,
Chapter 2: Dust, 15,
Chapter 3: But How Do I Get Through the Next 86,400 Seconds?, 33,
Chapter 4: Tan Feet, 55,
Chapter 5: Paintings and People, 71,
Chapter 6: A Little Too Long and a Lot Too Hard, 89,
Chapter 7: When God Gives You More Than You Can Handle, 109,
Chapter 8: Letting Go of What's Holding Me Back, 127,
Chapter 9: Exposing the Enemy, 149,
Chapter 10: Fighting Words, 175,
Chapter 11: Upside Down, 207,
Update from Lysa, 229,
9 Scriptures for Surviving the Times When God Seems Silent, 230,
Getting the Help You Need, 236,
An Invitation, 262,
About the Author, 264,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In her newest book, It's Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa TerKeurst speaks directly to readers who have experienced an unexpected life situation. She provides sympathy, support and encouragement while examining how we can move through these moments by leaning on God. At the end of each chapter, TerKeurst offers things to remember, supporting Scripture, reflection questions and a prayer. I love that she continually returned to God's word throughout the book. She is very real and vulnerable, citing many examples from her own life. Her personal situation circles mainly around her husband's infidelity, making it a little challenging to apply to my own experiences, but I still found the information to be very helpful in processing a few things in my own life. I appreciate that she doesn't pretend this will solve our problems. She acknowledges that additional help may be needed, but provides a realistic level of hope throughout. I have read several of TerKeurst's books, and this is by far my favorite. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for insight as to how to move through a challenging time in their life. Regardless of how big or small, her ideas can be applied to just about anything that we are struggling with. I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher.
There are some times when you receive a book and know that it was meant for such a time as this. Reading this book was one of those moments for me. Through sharing her story, Lysa TerKeurst reminds us that life is not a fairy tale just waiting to happen. Life is hard and full of disappoints. And yet - God still is good. I've been wrestling with that truth for a long while, and the pages of It's Not Supposed to Be This Way reminded me that I'm not alone on this journey. God is still moving when we can't see what the ultimate plan is. He provides us with hope through scripture. This book is for anyone who's ever felt like life isn't going the way it should. And don't we all feel that way sometimes in our lives? This book is refreshingly honest, acknowledging the hard while at the same time pushing us to trust God and see his goodness even in the hard. It's a reminder to fight for what we know is true. And to look outside of our expectations for this life and see what God wants for us in this life. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review is my own, honest opinion.
Having read Lysa's previous books, I had an inkling of what I was in for: Biblical expository, real life experiences and a down to earth style. What I didn't expect right away was for this book to change my view on hard times and suffering. Because of this book, my perspective on dealing with life's struggles--some of which may be life altering-- has totally changed. I'd say that makes "It's Not Supposed To Be This Way" a book we each should read sometime in our lives. Lysa not only shares her own personal struggles: from dealing with marital infidelity on her husband's part, to facing two challenging health diagnoses and her eventually learning that her life of comfort zome living was about to drastically change. I was moved by her personal stories, as well of those of close friends and associates who faced things some of us consider a nightmare scenario. I loved the imagery created and idea of "the life between two gardens," referencing the Garden of Eden and the Garden mentioned in Revelation. The idea is fleshed out in each chapter, and at the end of each, Lysa gives the recap of the high points of the subjects discussed, in a portion called "Going To the Well." This is further broken down into three subheadings: "Remember, Receive and Reflect." I found much great encouragement here, and it draws the reader to follow up with their Bibles to learn more about the topics discussed. Because of its timely topic and the sensitivity with which it is handled, I truly applaud Lysa for this book. Many lives can be positively affected by this journey, which will burn its mark on the hearts of those who truly take the time to invest in this read and apply it to study. I believe this would be a great group study book and could speak to those facing suffering and/or life altering situations. There is much wisdom, grace and perspective in these pages and I believe just about anyone can benefit from this book. Be prepared for your heart to be opened, dissected and healed by the Great Physician. Beautiful read! I received an early reader copy from the publisher. I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions above are my own. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review.
This is a must-read… there are words of wisdom on every page, based on true realities of life Every chapter of this book is a combination of authenticity and truth. The result is powerful. Lysa’s work is both brave and inspiring. I mean, who writes a book about something, when you don’t know how it's all going to turn out? Who writes with such passion and conviction whilst still being in “the messy middle.” Truly, Lysa lives, “Let Thy Will, Not My Will Be Done,’ We’ve all been disappointed at some stage. we’ve all suffered the pain, whether physical, emotional or spiritual and one of Lysa’s gifts is to clarify complicated concepts into expressions that you can latch on to. Some of my favourites are as follows: “ I want to learn to wrestle well in this life between two gardens.” “ We praise God when our normal looks like what we thought it would. We question God when it doesn’t.” “I could only face the future in teaspoons of time.” There is no doubt that reading this book strengthens one’s faith. Perhaps it’s fitting that I feel compelled to review the book while I am in the ‘messy middle’ of it… It’s just so good, I can’t rush through it! I will read it again, and I recommend it to all. Is there anyone you know that hasn’t felt at some point in their life that “It’s not supposed to be this way?” If there aren’t, I certainly haven’t met them. It’s Five out of Five on the en-JOY-ment scale !! I received a complimentary copy of the book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Opening a Lysa Terkeurst book is always life-changing and mindset-shifting. It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” takes it to a different level though. It’s emotionally rich, raw and so real. As I read, I felt Lysa’s pain, turmoil and struggles and I related! I haven’t walked her path but the heartful emotions, the doubts and fear, I’ve walked that! Lysa has a gift at framing the tiniest, but crucial, moment in a way I can understand and learn from. She is in fine form here, this book is full of transformational insights such as: “When you suffer, slow becomes necessary. Slow becomes good. One of the best parts of this season of suffering for me was a life that doesn’t require shoes. When your wear no shoes the sun has access to your feet.” Lysa’s life during the writing of this book has had so many highs and lows. Each chapter connects the reader with a different point in her life and, it’s an emotional rollercoaster, so of course I had to read it flat out til the early morning! Let this be a warning, this is a jam-packed, mile-a-minute, challenging and faith-building book to begun in a morning with a Bible beside and the understanding you may need to read it twice to fully comprehend it! Central to the book, is Lysa’s framing our time here on earth, between gardens. She speaks of those who have learnt to live this life in its fullness! I love this vision of how we can be: “It’s those clothed with garments of understanding. They have personally experienced that this life between two gardens can sometimes make it excruciatingly painful to simply be human. They keep in mind the Bible’s instructions, as we rub shoulders human to human. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)” To highlight, share or discuss more of the book would disrupt the amazing experience Lysa has created. All I can say is, the end is amazing, it full of hope and it’s a fantastic guide to life in faith! I highly recommend it, it’s a five out of five on the enjoyment scale, I’ll be reading it again and sharing it widely!
I have read and enjoyed many of Lysa TerKeurst's previous books. It's Not Supposed to Be this Way might be her most personal story yet. This book came about as she was going through a number of personal trials, including the adultery of her husband as well as very serious personal health crises. This book is long study on the truth of Romans 8:28, that God wills all things for the good of those who love him. Lysa labors the point that trials as used by God to refine us and that we are not promised a perfect life here on earth. One quote from the book exemplifies this. "God isn't ever going to forsake you, but He will go to great lengths to remake you." This book is recommended for any Christian who is going through trials and trying to make sense of them. Bible study resources and questions are included at the end of each chapter and this book would be ideal for a small group study. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
"God isn't ever going to forsake you, but He will go to great lengths to remake you." Gah, this book. My words will not do the beauty or eloquence of the author's plight justice. Nothing would do it justice. TerKeurst is a voice for all women. She puts words to depths of pain and the human soul. A reader can trust every word she writes in this book because she has lived it, in fact lived through it while also writing this book. I find interesting the way the chapters are written in real time. The author doesn't look back on a time in the past when she dealt with pain. She literally writes this book during the worst years of life. From one chapter to the next, she is getting news, diagnoses, and counseling. This book reads like a journal of lamenting and choosing joy. We as readers walk through the moments of struggle with her. She knows. And not only does she know, she trusts. And because she trusts, she encourages us that we can trust too. No matter what turmoil we are in, we can trust that God is for us and with us. In the heartfelt, emotional writing Lysa Terkeurst is known and loved for, she had me swaying between tears and laughter. And I am tucking this book safely away for another day when I may be in the midst of a dark valley, because I know this will speak to me all over again in a whole new way, in every season.