Andrea Lucado is a writer from Austin, Texas. Her new book “English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith,” describes what it was like to come from a family with a strong heritage of Christian faith; only to wrestle with doubts and her identity as she ventured away from home.
Andrea Lucado: It’s not wrong to have doubts, it’s not weird to have doubts; it’s very normal. I think it’s very healthy for your faith. I would encourage you that there is something happening beneath the doubt. It’s not static; I think you’ll see it, kind of once you’re out of this place, however long that takes.
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling podcast. Today, we speak with Andrea Lucado, a writer from Austin, Texas. Andrea describes what it was like come from a family with a strong heritage of Christian faith, only to find it tested when she ventured out on her own.
Andrea Lucado: Through Our Doubts, God Is There – Jesus Calling Podcast 40
Andrea: My name is Andrea Lucado, and I am a writer based in Austin, Texas.
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. I was a pastor’s daughter. Max Lucado is my dad, and he was the pastor, and is the pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas.
My parents were actually missionaries in Brazil. And so I was born on the mission field. I was there for only 18 months so I don’t remember it, but my older sister does have some memories from it. I feel like I really grew up in church. I remember the church building as well as I remember my childhood home. They were kind of interchangeable to me. I loved parts of being a pastor’s kid and didn’t love other parts, but church was definitely a big part of my life and the people that I knew at church were sort of an extension of my own family too, which was really a beautiful thing.
The Only Christian In Class
I did a study abroad program as an undergrad, which I always knew I wanted to do, I think, because my parents spent five years living in Brazil. That kind of opened their eyes to travel and the importance of seeing the world, so we would usually take a trip as a family every few years to a different country or or at least somewhere else in the U.S., like the Northeast.
That kind of put the travel bug in me. So, I studied abroad for a semester and while I was there I heard about Rook’s University which is separate from kind of Oxford University. Oxford University is made up of like 36 colleges whereas Oxford Brookes is more what we would think as university in America. It’s more of a lecture style teaching. When I heard about that school, I was sort of interested in it, and that I knew a girl who actually went there, had applied and been accepted and lived there for a year. I think I realized, “oh, this is possible; I could do this.” I fell in love with Oxford when I studied abroad and knew I wanted to go back to Oxford. It was sort of a distant dream. Then once I knew that someone had actually done it from ACU, I thought, “wow I could really do this.” I wanted to get my master’s in English, because at the time I wanted to be a teacher. So, there were a lot of things that lined up that me that made me want to go there.
Being in Oxford, there were a lot of churches there, but many of them were empty. There were beautiful old Anglican churches that had been there for hundreds of years, but they were more for tourism than they were for worship.
The first thing that I think happened when I realized, “OK, I’m the only Christian in my class and one of two Americans in my class. Everything about me feels different.” I started really seeing the world through these friends that I was getting to know; through their eyes and and how they process things, and deal with hard stuff, and seeing that they didn’t really need religion to help them out — it really rattled me. I started to be able to see their side on things and the way they talked about religion; it really did sound “not logical.” You know, this Jesus came and died on a cross for our sins and is God incarnate. I was like “oh, that sounds really strange when you’re not born and raised to believe that.” So doubt began to really creep in.
For the first time I’m kind of feeling the need to defend what I believe, but at the same time questioning what I believe.
I did find a great church in Oxford, but being at a school that was not Christian, didn’t have any Christian professors, no Christians in classes; really rattled me for sure. It wasn’t like everyone was going to be going to church that weekend. I was kind of the odd one. It made me aware of how much time I spend at church.
Wrestling With Doubt
Doubt has always been a part of my story, especially then at that time kind of high school, some in college, and then at Oxford. it really came out and I was forced to ask questions like. “OK, why do I believe this–because most people don’t–especially most people in this city.” For the first time I’m kind of feeling the need to defend what I believe, but at the same time questioning what I believe. So doubt was kind of my first doubt in my own self in my own beliefs. It’s kind of how I reacted how I had to wrestle through that and come to terms with that.
I was worried that I was going to end up leaving Oxford you know with no faith and having turned away from it. There was a turning point for me when I went to this conference in London. It was Christianity in art conference; a faith and art conference.
I didn’t really want to go, but I went with a friend. They spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be a Christian who is an artist and how our job as artists is to tell the truth; not paint over it, not write it out of the script, but to be honest, because telling the truth is in Scripture all throughout.
There were talking about how sometimes, for me to tell the truth as a Christian artist, it means painting very difficult, dark things instead of these pretty, happy pictures–and that’s OK. That just really resonated with me because I felt like I was experiencing darkness and difficult things, but to hear them say that; it doesn’t mean it’s not Christian.
They quoted Psalm 137: “if I forget you O’ Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.” I remember going home and kind of scribbling down that psalm on a post-it note, and putting it behind my desk, and crying because I thought I was starting to forget my faith.
It was beautiful to feel like I had not been abandoned by God.
And I said “I don’t want to and I don’t have to; just because I’m experiencing darkness doesn’t mean I’m distant from God. Maybe it means I’m grappling with something that’s true.” So there was just something about those words.
I think I started saying, “okay, this doubt on the surface was really just me feeling around in the dark so that I could really claim what I believed as my own.” It was beautiful to feel like I had not been abandoned by God. He was still there. I would say by the end of the year I kind of started to sense Him again and see purpose in the doubt that I was experiencing.
Do I Believe God Is Good?
You know, Oswald Chambers said to make it a habit to always kind of struggle with or study what you’ve come to easily believe, it’s not really your belief until you make it yours (I’m paraphrasing). I think if you’re raised a Christian like I am, you can definitely live a Christian life without having questioned what you believe. But I think it is so much richer and deeper if you have come to that conclusion on your own.
It’s scary to enter into that question, but I think God meets you there. I don’t think He’s mad that you would ask. I think if you’re going to have a relationship with anyone, you have to really know them and get to know them for yourself and not just hear about them from your parents.
So much has happened in the last eight years. I feel like I’ve moved and started asking different questions.
Faith for me, it’s deeper now.
The chief one thing, do I believe God is good? I went through a period of anxiety a couple of years ago and I wanted to be able to trust God through that; a lot of it was based in my not trusting Him. It’s hard to trust a being who you’re not sure is good at His core, who you might question “is He out to get me, or does He just want my life to be hard?” I’ve asked more questions about God’s character and who He is than I have about “does He exist, do I believe this?”
That was kind of the year that God was like, “and now you will finally understand My Grace.” Faith for me, it’s deeper now.
My mom texts us scripture. If she is reading her Jesus Calling that day, and she feels God prompting her to send it to one of us or all three of us, she’ll take a picture of it and send it to us. Every time she does, I read it and I’m like, “oh, that’s exactly what I needed.”
I think this is everyone’s Jesus Calling story. I would read that day’s, and it totally spoke to whatever I was going through. I mean it was just crazy; like the Holy Spirit has used that book in such crazy ways.
The Crooked Path Of Growing Toward Faith
Narrator: Years after Andrea struggled with doubting her faith, she felt the freedom to continue to bring her questions to God, and discovered His grace in the process. Andrea goes on to talk about how she is sharing her story through a book she has written called “English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith.”
So I actually just did a reading of my book at my alma mater this week.
People really resonated with the chapter called “My Front Light” which is sort of a good chapter to read if you want a sense of what the book is about. It just talks about the beginnings of my doubts and I had some people just tell me that was very powerful for them personally.
I talk about a friend that I had named Jussieu, in the book. He’s Korean. Well, he grew up in Austria. His parents are Korean.
I just remember talking to him a lot and spending a lot of time with him. And I think it’s because I could sense that he had a very steady faith and he had also been raised in Europe and managed to still be a Christian, which is pretty amazing. So I really respected him. It’s important to talk to people who you know are talking to God because they have kind of “been there, done that.”
I think it’s OK to kind of give yourself a break and say, “I need to lean on some other people’s faith for a while; I need to be honest about where I am.”
I don’t feel like my story is this amazing, crazy thing, it’s just one year that I happened to learn a lot of stuff and I had a lot of people encourage me in that. You know, you don’t have to have a crazy testimony. Yours might be worth writing about, even when you don’t think it is, so I don’t claim to have had this crazy life. I just think that God can make anything “ordinary” extraordinary.
Narrator: You can find Andrea Lucado’s book; “English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith.” everywhere books are sold or by visiting her website at andrealucado.com.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling podcast, we speak with Cheryl Karpen, the creator of the popular “Eat Your Peas” book series, including Eat Your Peas for Mothers, Daughters, and Girlfriends. Cheryl shares how heartbreak led her to recognize her true value in God’s eyes and how her mother’s influence led her to follow her dreams of helping others recognize their worth.
Cheryl Karpen: My mom was a huge influence on my life, even I didn’t recognize it – she had tremendous faith and my mom always believed in me—she would always say “follow your dreams.” So really, Eat Your Peas for Mothers is one of my favorites, and the day I gave it to her, I remember, she was sitting in that same chair where she hugged me years before, saying that “God had a different plan for me,”
I watched as she read page after page of this little book, and you know she was 88 years of age then, and tears were streaming down her cheek, and this is a woman I rarely saw cry, and she looked up at me said “I’m so glad I’ve lived long enough to hear these words.” There was something about something about having it written in a piece paper, something that she could keep on a nightstand or coffee table, that was a reminder that all the sacrifices she made, all the love that she gave, and no matter how hard it was; that it was worth it.
Narrator: Our featured passage for today comes from the November 14th entry of the Jesus Always audiobook:
I am always with you, beloved, whether you’re aware of My Presence or not. Sometimes the place you are in seems desolate—devoid of My loving companionship. But you can call out to Me and know that I am by your side, eager to help. I am near to all who call on Me. Whisper My Name in tender trust, casting your doubts to the wind. Tell Me your troubles and seek My guidance; then change the subject. Praise Me for My greatness and glory, My power and majesty! Thank Me for the good things I have done and am doing in your life. You will find Me richly present in your praise and thanksgiving.
Taste and see that I am good! The more you focus on Me and My blessings, the better you can taste My goodness. Delight in the sweetness of My unfailing Love. Savor the hearty flavor of My strength. Satisfy the hunger of your heart with the Joy and Peace of My Presence. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.
Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.