How Crumbling Faith Can Redefine Our Relationship with God

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 07, 2023
How Crumbling Faith Can Redefine Our Relationship with God

It's time we break the mold of what we think our relationship with God should look like and recognize Him in the mundane and sacred moments of our everyday lives.  

One morning at 2:30 AM, as a little eight-year-old girl, my dad asked me if I wanted to be in a personal relationship with Jesus. "Yes," I told him, and my life forever changed. Growing up in the Methodist Church, I was baptized in a pool outside the parsonage at ten years old. I vividly remember the frigid water and how much I loved Jesus then and still do now! Somewhere between childhood and adolescence, my faith grew sticky. The trauma I accumulated from countless rounds of mental and emotional abuse still gives me nightmares. I always have and will cling to my faith, but I knew it was time to discern which elements were solid and which needed permission to crumble.

There is healing in the crumbling.

Recently, I expressed my struggle with high-functioning anxiety to my therapist. Between cycles of depression, my addiction to being busy has caused me heartache and suffering. Faith and prayers have felt distant. I read my Bible, attend church, and enjoy fellowship, but I have felt desperate and disconnected. Trying to control everything in my life caused turmoil when I simply needed to rest in the presence of God, who is actually in control of everything.

I struggle to sit in silence. 
I struggle to avoid multitasking. 
I struggle to take more than five minutes in the shower. 
I struggle to deviate from my hour-a-day Scripture reading and routine prayers. 

For years I've carried the weight of anxiety, depression, and an addiction to tasks. I've worked early in the morning and late into the evening for fear of wasting time. Not doing enough. Failing God. Making Him disappointed. Not praying enough. Not really being saved. Not reading long enough. Not serving and volunteering enough. I've searched the Scriptures, my heart, and scholars for answers, and God has revealed some beautiful things to me. Sometimes when faith crumbles, it can redefine our relationship with God- and that's not always bad.

Questions to help us reflect on the crumbling.

Here are some helpful questions I'm learning to ask when redefining my relationship with God:

Do my standards involve genuinely growing closer to God, or are they anxiety, or fear-based? 
One of my great friends and truly blessed writers, Peyton Garland, wrote: 

"Stop boxing God in. I'm frustrated with the church's notion that 'Scripture is the only way we hear from God' in the New Testament Age. Now, I'm not negating that the Bible was Heaven-scripted, divinely pieced together, and is our cornerstone for truth. But when Christian culture worships 'quiet time,' it neglects the other 23.5 hours of the day we have access to God's omnipresence. It grants us an excuse to put away His presence the moment we close our floral devotional book. Meanwhile, I often find God in grittier places-in hospice rooms where saints aren't afraid of death, in crowded spaces where 80-year-old military veterans sacrifice their seats for the pregnant woman, in heavy, wandering Linkin Park lyrics. I find God in unconventional places-in my dogs brightening a child's day, in the Mcdonald's lady letting me sneak away with a free order of fries, in weeds that refuse to let concrete stop them from growing. Our access to God has never been limited, and if there's anywhere we should have learned this truth, it's the Bible. God is in all the places where we look for Him. He's not hiding or playing games. He's simply navigating the spaces we invite Him into."

Is there something wrong with my faith if I don't do these things? 
My heart stopped as I read Peyton's words for the first time. Someone finally got it and possibly understood what I was experiencing. God is undoubtedly found in His Word and divine communion with Him, but He's also in all the places we look for Him. He desires our relationship to be growing, developing, ever-changing, deepening, and widening in every dimension. But we will never truly grow if we're always clinging to tradition and how we think our relationship should go. 

Do these regulations sound like joy-filled, Holy Spirit-filled, anointed actions or routine compulsions?
Standards, rules, and regulations I've placed on myself can become more important than actually doing what the Scriptures say: Love God and others. And in all honesty, sometimes what I best need to do for my mental health isn't read the Bible for more hours, pray harder, and work more. What I best need to do for my mental health is rest in who God says He is and redefine what He expects from me. Reading the Bible, praying, attending church, practicing spiritual disciplines, and serving are valuable and necessary parts of the Christian life. But when the standards and expectations are fear-based, that isn't holy or Godly. And they certainly aren't things God wants us to chain ourselves to.

Why am I limiting my relationship with God to these tasks/standards? For example, who says that a relationship with God equals reading the Bible one hour a day or saying rigid prayers day after day?
These are questions I've wrestled with yet endlessly clung to for years. While I love reading the Bible and praying, which are excellent spiritual practices, they were never meant to limit, cap, or define our relationship with our Creator. God is much more concerned with my heart than He is if I record notes for my 60-minute reading 365 days a year. I truly believe He would rather I live out the Gospel in whatever way He chooses to present Himself in my life than try to get my relationship with Him to fit a certain mold. 

How is God connecting with me in other areas of my life, and how am I experiencing my relationship with Him?
A rigid, obsessive-compulsive compulsion to faith undermines what Christ wants to do in our relationship with Him. He wants you to read your Bible, pray, and spend time with Him, but not from a place of fear or religious scrupulosity. Compulsion and intimidation do not align with the freedom and life Christ has given us through a relationship with Him. We can experience God in seemingly mundane moments. Or, as JJ Heller writes, "Big love happens in the small moments." The reality is those things can be sacred. 

Do you need some encouragement to endure a crumbling season?

Friend, I want to encourage you. Suppose your faith is in a place like mine. Fear not. It may seem easier to believe you're horrible, not working hard enough, unsaved, and incapable of a good relationship with God. None of those lies ring true. God loves, sees, and deeply cares about you and what you're experiencing. Redefining our faith and relationship with God can be terrifying, especially for those struggling with anxiety and depression. I believe God loves me as I am. He sees me when I read my Bible, pray, and talk to Him. He fully embraces me when I am weary, wounded, and exhausted. The lies we fight daily, Jesus defeated on the cross over 2,000 years ago. We can choose whether to listen to the falsities begging our attention daily. I have learned, over time, that what my Father thinks of me is far greater than any rogue lie or targeted attack of confidence. 

I still read Scripture daily, pray, attend church, volunteer, and serve others, but God's desire for me to grow will forever change my heart. Released from a fear-based relationship with Him, I fully embrace the freedom to live life to the full as Christ intended. Walking with my Creator, I'm learning to resist what my earthly mind tells me to cling to. Instead, I'm focused on my relationship with God within and beyond the rigid criteria I've often set for myself.

There is evidence of God's work in my life in the pages of my journal, but He's also seen in the heartfelt pleas and tears no one ever sees. He is with me on the walks I take around my home as I thank Him for His creation and the joy I experience when I sing and dance. It's time we break the mold of what we think our relationship with God should look like and recognize Him in the mundane and sacred moments of our everyday lives.  

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/diego_cervo

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at