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Fractured Faith: Finding My Way Back to God: Lina Abujamra

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 30, 2023 5:15 am

Fractured Faith: Finding My Way Back to God: Lina Abujamra

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 30, 2023 5:15 am

Somewhere along the way, the Christianity she knew began crumbling. Lina Abujamra shares about fractured faith—and deconstruction that brought her back to God.

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Lina's facebook: @livingwithpower

Purchase Lina's book: Fractured Faith: Finding Your Way Back to God in an Age of Deconstruction

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The times that I feel God's goodness the most is when I'm at my worst. You know, numbing myself with stuff that I know I shouldn't or acting in a way that I know I shouldn't as a Christian or as a human.

And then I come back to the table and I open my Bible and I know that I know that I know that there's a God who doesn't agree with the way that I behave, who has paid the price for that sin, but who is still there. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at or on the Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. Well, I did a Google search this morning. Really?

Never done this one before. I thought I knew what I was going to find and I did. Number one question people ask about God.

Why does a good God allow evil and suffering? I would have thought that too. Yeah, because we all are thinking the same thing. And that's the question we have. What was your predicted answer? That's what I thought it'd be.

Why does a loving God allow evil and suffering? And I'd heard that. I'd read books about it. But I just was like, is it still the number one question? It is by far number one. There's others that are up there, but it is. And you know what? It's a tough one. Yeah. You can't just sit here and go, oh.

And people have left their faith or they've left, I should say, the church because of that not being able to understand it because they think, what kind of God could do that? Yeah, we're going to sort of dive into that one today. We've already heard Lena with us. Lena is back. We want to hear her voice over there. She couldn't stay out of that one. She's like, I'm jumping in.

I'm ready to jump into that conversation. I like it. We have Lena Abu-Jamri back with us today with her book. It's called Fractured Faith.

The subtitle is Finding Your Way Back to God in an Age of Deconstruction. Lena, welcome back to Family Life Today. It's great to be back. She's fun. Yeah, we're going to have a ball.

I mean, it's fun. We're going to talk about a really serious, sort of heavy topic. But we're going to talk about it with a smile on our face, even though we've all been through Fractured Faith. You talked yesterday a little bit about, you know, a relationship that ended two weeks before you got married and different things. But you hinted at there's this other time in your life where you really found your faith fractured.

So let's hear a little bit about that. You know, yesterday we left off, yeah, where I had felt the call to ministry after coming out of this broken heart. And in some ways, it felt like, you know, sometimes we want to make sense of God's story in our life. And to me, what conclusion I made was, well, of course God wants me to be single because he wants me to be free to be in ministry, right? So your life becomes all centered around this ministry. That's like your, it's not even a consolation prize to me.

It was like better. So for, I wrote a book, my first book was called Thrive, and it was about singleness, thriving and singleness. And it was like, of course I'm meant to be single. It's the whole purpose of my life was to be single so that I could serve God, which is this high calling that God had called me to.

And in my mind, it felt like God's going to now be able to use me to do all these great, amazing things for his glory, not for my glory, for his. And so you sort of have this narrative now that you've created in your head. Do men do that? Because women, we do this, right? We create the narrative of why did this happen?

And then we come, oh, this is why. And we do it like, this is why so many women are still single. Like, because we go on the first date and we've already planned, right? And the guys are like, run it!

You know, if you're verbal like me, like you may have say things like, you know, and like me, I don't even go on dates, so I can't speak to that. But the fact is, you're right. We do it all the time. And it's almost like... I don't think it's just a woman thing.

You don't. I mean, you may do it in a uniquely different way, and I know you have, but I think we do the same thing. It may be tied more to success and job success rather than relationship success, because I'll do that more with, oh, this is going to lead to this, rather than you and I. But a woman tends to be with relationship. But I'll do it with everything.

Like not just relationship, I'll do it with... But even this, Lena, how do you end up writing a book called Thrive, when yesterday you were like, it was a real struggle to come out of that relationship. But you got to a point where you said, singleness, I can thrive. Well, because you see, again, and I don't think necessarily all our conclusions are wrong.

I'm not saying that. I do believe God wrote a single story, a single story in my life, so that after that first engagement, 10 years later, I got engaged again. So I haven't dated a lot, but it seems like when I do date, it almost goes all the way home, but it didn't. So again, we ended engagement this time, not two weeks before the wedding. And it was, again, a mutual decision. We had different callings and a lot of other things. But it was fine.

I don't think, at that point, I don't think I felt like I was devastated at all. It just felt like, if anything, it confirmed what I felt God was doing in my ministry life. And so at that point, I started becoming the woman's director at this amazing church where everything was so good for so long. And Moody asked me to write my first book, Thrive. By then I was blogging.

I was starting to Bible teach in the context of a bigger church, and they had asked if I had thought about writing a book. And then they wanted to meet with me, and we met. Long story short, they wanted me to write on singleness. And my first thought in my inside head, I was like, no.

I was like, there is no way I'm doing that. But they seemed to want me to write on that. And on the other hand, I was like, well, I guess I could write about turtles if I really had to. So I went home, and I thought about it. I prayed about it. And a week later, we had another meeting, and I already had an outline for the book. And I used 1 Corinthians 7 as the sort of paradigm for singleness. And so I had a sketch of the book because I had lived it.

So now I was closer to 40 at that point. And so it made sense. Again, it explained the pain that God had allowed. There's something very therapeutic in our minds when we understand the reason for our pain. Like, God, you can let me hurt, but let me know why.

It's the unexplainable pain that I think frustrates us. And so basically, I wrote a couple of books. And by the time they both were coming out was the season when things had begun to unravel crazily in this church I was in and publicly. And I ended up leaving the year in the summer between my first and my second book releasing.

And it was very tricky on many points. On one practical point was the pastor of that church who was being put on the hot seat, who has since been disqualified from ministry by the elders of that church, had written a foreword for me. So your identity with that church is high. And so on one hand, there's the part you don't want to feel like you're using them, like that was never the intent. On the other hand, you also understand that now I'm publishing books. And even then, I don't think I understand the repercussions of not being affiliated with a mega anything and trying to, quote unquote, release a successful book.

And so there were a lot of layers to wear. And remember now you apply this principle, which is I had felt my entire life pain was redeemed by this call to ministry that was now basically take a hammer and destroy it. Because now I'm no longer a woman's ministry director. My books aren't going to do well because I don't have any church endorsing me. The few places that were asking me to speak now think I'm a bad apple because the church hasn't gotten to its height of negativity yet.

The story was just unfolding. And you're associated with that. Yeah, so I looked like the person who had left a very vibrant church, even though people in the know knew that things were not well, it wasn't public knowledge. And you're trying to honor the Lord in it all and you're trying to trust the Lord. But meanwhile, you're kind of going, I remember a week after I left the church and I went through the steps that I felt like I needed to go to, to try to.

And by the time I left, it had been two years of agonizing questions and wondering whether this was the right decision or not. And I remember after I had left, I sat at a tapas place and I'm having this dinner with my, one of my closest friends and I was like crying and I rarely, like I'm an ER doctor. Like we're taught not to cry in front of, you know, serious situations.

Like you save it for the privacy of your home and, you know, trying to be tough. And I remember the tears coming out of my face. And I remember saying to her, Tina, what is going to happen to this ministry? Like it's gone. I feel like we're done. And it felt like such an ending to everything that I thought God was doing to redeem this pain of my being single, of my having my heart broken, of my living in this deep disappointment for all this time that I still was part of my story.

I never married to this day. Do you think your ministry became your bandaid? Well, in hindsight, I wouldn't have said it then, but I think in hindsight, I think anything becomes our bandaid. I mean, we all have bandaids.

We're all crotching on something. And I think God in his goodness removes those crutches in the right times in order to bring us to a place of wholeness that we don't see at the time is needed. And so there's festering wounds that we just cover and cover and then we kind of go. But, you know, like you have a scar inside.

No one sees it. Then I'm fine. And next thing you know, you're really not because it's, you know, and so I wasn't fine. I was putting all my hopes in ministry success. And to me, the more successful, the more books, you know, the more I did, the more I felt like I was proving to God my worth in the ministry without saying those words. Like, I mean, you know, we're not like we all have been, you know, educated enough through social media, famous pastors and books and that have been written about this that we all know that it's wrong to drive for success in ministry based on numbers. But who doesn't do it?

Right. I mean, like pastors are all the time. So many people got baptized this Sunday.

So many people came to church. Who cares? Well, apparently someone does. Even publishers.

They won't publish your books if you don't have a big platform. Like everything in the Christian narrative is grow, grow, grow. And then you matter. And now you're coming at it and going, no, actually God went after the one. And you see this pattern where Jesus, the closer he went to the cross, which is the acme of his ministry, the less people followed him.

So we're like the mother of the brothers who says to Jesus, like, how can you ensure that my sons will sit one at your right hand, one at your left? And I think there's in us the sense that somehow we're special to God if we're doing certain things and if we have certain ways. But basically I had also maybe I think buried some serious, even with that first crisis of my broken engagement and feeling like God didn't deliver, I think I still didn't fully address some of the pain that I had about my being single. I still had some disappointment. I just glossed over it by this idea that, well, but God has redeemed himself by giving me this better thing that had kingdom value. While marriage is good, ministry has kingdom value.

So now this was shattering before me. And so now I ended up leaving the church not knowing what would happen to my ministry and feeling like God had really dropped the ball on this. And so you wait a while and God did some things at the time that now, again, I look back and think, wow.

But at the time there were small little movements of the Spirit. And one was I was asked to do a spot on Moody Radio. Maybe some people listening might find my voice familiar.

I have a minute called Today's Single Christian on Moody Radio. And ironically, they came to me and asked me to do this minute for singles. And I remember I had approached them two years before and asked to do a spot on faith. And they had said no, and I had licked my wounds in private. And I don't think they remember that. But then they had asked me to. And I'm like, really?

Really? Singleness? Is this like there's a plan in this world? Because if you do a book on singles and a radio spot on singles, I guarantee you that is not a good dating plan.

You will ensure you'll marry me. Anyway, but I did that. And the other thing was I was invited to go to the Middle East, which is my home country. My accent is Lebanese mixed with a bunch of American soil places that I've lived.

Some in the south, some in the north. But basically I moved when I was a senior in high school and the Syrian refugee crisis unfolded right in the year that I left that church. I didn't have a church. I didn't have a ministry in the same way that I had before.

So I had more time on my hands. I was still practicing medicine, but I was so hard looking still for ways to serve God. And I will say to God's goodness and to my negative, you know, like I still think I wanted to prove my worth in hindsight. Like I don't think now I would say, honestly, I could have done nothing for two years, but spent time with the Lord trying to understand why all this was happening. But I was too in my way trying to still be someone. But I do think that there's a part of us, especially if we have any kind of performance issues in our lives, if I didn't do anything for two years, but just sit with Jesus. We'd feel like a failure. Yes.

If I don't do something each day, I feel like, well, that was a waste of a day. If I read one chapter in the Bible instead of three, yes, it's horrible. And that's so opposite of the Father.

Yes. He has to continually remind me, Ann, it's kind of like the Sabbath. Like, Ann, you were not made to do ministry. I made you in my image to know me, to be with me. But I'm like, yeah, but you also want me to, you know, work for you and advance the kingdom for you. And I want to do all those things. But would I be content with Jesus? And of course, he's made us to work.

He's put that in us. But still, there's that question of, hmm, when you said that. Well, I'll tell you, today for the first time in my life, I can tell you, I see the difference.

You do. And it has been a process. But this is nine years in the making. But it took a journey and it took deconstructing. Because I think part of it is this exact thing.

Okay. Is you grow up your whole life thinking you need to serve God somewhere. And like there's so much, even to be like, we grew up in the fundamentalist times, you know, in the 80s. I mean, the church has changed, you know, in terms of the movement of church in the United States has changed. And I was a product of the fundamentalist movement, right? But I mean, the idea that we are to use the time wisely. The days are short.

One of the most influential books in my life is Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, who's an amazing author. But like the narrative in your head and the voices in your head are saying, work for God because it matters. And it's not even about me getting glorious because you don't want to show up to heaven and not have crowns for God. And so you sort of have that backdrop and that has to deconstruct because that's not the Jesus way.

Yes. So it has taken years for me and God completely pulling the rug, you know, from under me. And talking about this stuff and writing books and going to therapy and all this stuff to finally come to a place. And I think it's happened really in the last year, maybe 16 months, where I have seen a change.

In fact, yesterday I was driving up here to be with you guys and I told one of my closest friends, Tina, who I had had the tears at the tapas place with. And I was boxing her and I said, I feel like somewhere in the last year, a bifurcation in the road has happened. And everyone that I used to look up to in ministry, not everyone, but a lot, have seemed like they're still on this road that I'm no longer on. And for the first time in my life, I'm not just unfazed by it. I don't want to be on that road.

Somehow, even though I may not be doing things that I thought I would be doing, they no longer matter to me. That's the result of what has deconstructed. Now the danger, and I think about the millennials who have left the church at exceedingly fast numbers, I think they have suffered the most in watching my generation wrestle with those things of worth. And I think they've said, no, we don't want to be part of that. And they've seen the Christian celebrity.

Correct. And they've left. So a lot of them are leaving. And some famous people in that category have been very obvious on social media, but I think they've abandoned anything that resembles Christianity. And so a lot of people, when you think about deconstruction, and in fact, a lot of the deconstructionists would have a problem with me because they think, because I've landed still on a biblical, orthodox view of the world, that I've not truly deconstructed.

And I have a problem with that because I think, first of all, I'll apply the same language to them. You don't get to decide what's deconstruction. I can tell you this is why this is deconstruction. We've just landed in a completely different place. You've landed in disbelief. I've landed in belief. But we've both gone through this deconstruction phenomenon.

You have used worldly means and cultural popular thinking to reach your disbelief. And I have gone back to the biblical model, but I'm convinced more than ever of the truth of the word of God and the reality of Jesus Christ and His goodness. I feel like Peter, who started walking on the water and fell, and somehow God just still grabs me. And I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the grace of God. And if that puts me in a reformed God, all about Him and not about me, I'm in that camp because I really see that it is purely His goodness. Look, the truth is there are days to this day that I still look at my Bible and I read and I think, are we making this whole thing up?

There's occasional thought that sort of twinkles in your brain where you're going like, is this all crazy? But then, honestly, the times that I feel God's goodness the most is when I'm at my worst. You know, numbing myself with stuff that I know I shouldn't or acting in a way that I know I shouldn't as a Christian or as a human. And then I come back to the table and I open my Bible and I know that I know that I know that there's a God who doesn't agree with the way that I behave, who has paid the price for that sin, but who is still there. And I feel His goodness the most when I'm at my darkest. Yeah, that seems to be the theme of Fractured Faith, the book, is in your suffering. There's like this holiness and beauty of God that's so hard, but it's still, am I right? Because He's experienced it Himself. Well, because grace, right?

I mean, so if you're a performer, especially if you're a performance-based person, like, right? I mean, you believe you're saved by grace, but you're somehow trying to earn God's favor through your life, right? And so, you know, you've heard in church people say, you're not just saved by faith, you're sanctified by faith.

Like, we get that intellectually, but we don't apply it. We really still think the better Christian is the one who's leading bigger service. Billy Graham is a better Christian than I am. How do we know? Like, look at my mom, who served Christ faithfully, sits at her table, reads the Bible, loves Jesus, worships Him. There's others, millions like her, who will never remember their names, know their names, meet them in your life. Who's to say He's a better Christian than her?

We don't know. It's not about us anyway. It's not that one is better than the other. It's that they're both saved by grace, covered by the blood of Christ. He's the story. You go back to that. And so I do think, yeah, I mean, I think there's something in the darkness that makes the light more palpable. It doesn't mean I want to stay there.

But C.S. Lewis, of course, I quote, and he said it very much so. And in fact, coming back to the beginning conversation of this segment, you were asking about how people question God. Like, what's the biggest question about God?

Well, is God real? Because there's so much suffering in the world. What's ironic about that is that if you really have met people who are suffering a lot, like, I mean, really suffering.

Like, as an example, the Syrian refugees. By the way, I grew up in the civil war in Lebanon. I grew up for the first 15 years of my life.

What we knew was war. It seems normal to me because my family lived it, but it wasn't normal. You guys would have thought it was horrific. It's horrible. I mean, we grew up with shooting all over the streets.

We'd go to school, never know if we were going to make it back home or not. And so you look at that sort of culture. You look at the Syrian refugee crisis.

You look now at the Ukrainians. You look at people who have been through utter darkness, and somehow you go ask them, and they are more believing in God than anyone I know. You look at families in the ER. I'm telling you, the people who listen the most are the ones who have the worst diagnoses. The people who are most open to prayer are the ones who are closest to death. So now you tell me when you say, how could God allow all this suffering? Well, while God doesn't create suffering, I think that God uses suffering. I think most people would agree with that. God uses suffering.

And not only that, I think what C.S. Lewis is true, which is our ears. He says, pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

And I think he's 100 percent correct. I have found in my experience as a healer, that's what I do in my profession, that there's something about pain that makes us sit up straighter, lean and more, and utterly receive whatever is given us. The easiest patients to care for, in my experience, are the ones who are hurting the most.

When my sister was passing away of lung cancer, and she was so young, 44, diagnosed, passed away right when she turned 45, it was harder for all of us to watch it and struggle. But she was clinging to Jesus with all of her heart, her mind, her soul, her strength. He was her comforter. He was her hope. And I remember asking her, like, are you mad at God?

And she said, how can I be mad at the only one who can help me? He's with me. He's with me.

I feel his presence. I just talked to an 18-year-old girl whose mom just passed. And she said it was the holiest moment to be with my mom as she passed because she kept encountering Jesus in her death. And she said, nothing has made me believe more, as she was so not excited to leave, but she was encountering the God of the universe.

And she said, I will always believe watching my mom die in utter peace. Those stories are, those are the things that make you think, oh, so they need God in their midst of the pain. And I've seen people also struggle that are in it when they reject God, and there's not a lot of peace going on there. You've probably seen that way more being a physician.

Yeah. I mean, look, it's true. I mean, if pain was an equivocal way to salvation, most of us would be saved at this point.

I mean, but I think the truth is you're right. While pain can drive people away from God and the questions, it can equally, if not more so, create a seed for such a deep belief. And I mean, this is the mystery of salvation. Like, what makes one story different than the other? What makes my story and where it is now with deeper faith in God? And, but a sense of freedom, you know, like, like I'm not as, you know, I still long to read my Bible every day, but I'm not beating myself on the head if I don't read the right number of chapters, you know, like, things like that, you know, like, like they're subtle changes, but they're not that subtle in my mind and my life. And, and what makes me fall on the side and somebody else who's fallen on the other side of lack of faith?

And I don't know the answers. I think this is why we keep talking about this stuff because I think people need to know out there, not everybody who deconstructs ends up rejecting the Lord. Many, many are still faithfully walking with Christ and can declare of His goodness more than I ever have. Yeah, it's, it's really, your story is the story you hope for with deconstruction. It's like, I'm going to drop these things that are maybe not even true or not helpful, that were a part of my faith that they should have never been.

So I'm deconstructed like, oh, what, and then I'm going to pick up what is true and that's a faith that sustains for the long haul, which is what you're living. Not that it isn't hard, right? Still hard. It's still hard, but it is in its own, you know, yeah, I think on this side of life, it's always going to be a little bit hard. Yeah, me too.

Oh yeah. You know, many of us ask questions, and myself included, ask the kind of questions that we feel like we shouldn't ask. Like, where is God in my pain? Is He even here? Is this how Christians are supposed to act in this difficult process? Why did my story end up the way it is? Is this the normal Christian life?

Why is it so hard to be a follower of Jesus? I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Lina Abu-Jamra on Family Life Today. And Lina's done a fantastic job of helping us tackle some of these difficult questions and pursue God in the process without losing Him as we wrestle. You can pick up a copy of her book called Fractured Faith, Finding Your Way Back to God in an Age of Deconstruction.

Super helpful, especially in the cultural moment that we're in right now. You can find a copy at, or you could give us a call at 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word Today. And we're winding down here with something special going on at Family Life, and Dave and Ann wanted to fill you in on what's happening. Tomorrow is the last day. Last day of our May Match, which we've been talking about this whole month, where you can jump in and become a financial family partner with us on a monthly basis, and it's doubled.

And if you jump in today, you can do it, or tomorrow. Your giving is doubled throughout the year if you give this month. And you can give a one-time gift. I mean, we appreciate one-time gifts, but we're really excited to have people join in and become part of our family, really.

They're partners. They say, I want to do this every month of the year. It's going to be doubled for this whole year, and you get some pretty cool insider stuff. You get a Weekend to Remember gift card. You get our new devotional coming out with Family Life with the New Art of Marriage. You get to stream in with us in June.

It's only insider access. So, there's a lot of things that you get, and that isn't why you do it. I mean, that's a benefit. Yeah, you're right. But I think you do it because you say, man, God has transformed our marriage through family life, and I want to help others do it as well.

And it doesn't happen without partners like you. Yeah, and we appreciate you, and we long and need your help. So, find out more at Yes, as Anne said, you can go online to, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, the number is 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. And feel free to drop us something in the mail if you'd like.

Our address is Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. And tomorrow, Dave and Anne are joined again with Lena Abu-Jamra to talk about how not all things in life are going to be comfortable. She'll unpack about the time that she began to understand that as a believer, you simply cannot build a life that doesn't need God. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-30 06:34:03 / 2023-05-30 06:46:52 / 13

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