Am I Losing My Faith or Just Losing My Mind?

People often come to me when they are in the throes of spiritual crisis; when the doubts and the questions and the conflicting voices have finally overwhelmed them. I know that place well.

There is a suffocating panic that often comes when we are forced to confront the disorienting truth that we may no longer believe the things we’ve always believed or be sure of what we’ve always been sure of.

When our circumstances or our experiences or our own inner condition cause the fault lines of our faith to be disturbed, nothing is spared. Our once fixed, immoveable ideas about God and prayer and love and life and death and religion and Hell all become dislodged and unstable, each sending massive shock waves into the other.

We are soundly shaken.

In those terrifying moments we strain desperately for bedrock, for answers that will bring immediate peace and stop the tremors. We turn to pastors and the Bible and authors and therapists and friends (and yes to God as well), and yet the more voices we invite into the conversation, the louder the inner dissonance grows, the greater the internal chaos becomes, the more turbulent we become.

We ask questions and we question our answers, we question our ability to decode those answers correctly, and then we question our initial questions. We doubt and have guilt for the doubting and feel sadness at our lack of faith and develop bitterness toward a God (we may or may not believe in) who seems silent through it all. We look for signs, and at times think we see them in everything and other times, in nothing.

And when all of this happens, we eventually come to wonder if we’re losing our faith or losing our minds—or both.

As someone who for decades has battled depression and anxiety while simultaneously trying to navigate the deepest of existential quandaries, I understand well the toxic cocktail of mental illness and spiritual pursuit; how the combination of emotional instability and faith crisis can be almost too much to bear.

In fact, one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to admit to myself and to others, has been that my deepening faith journey has been accompanied by ever greater bouts of inner turmoil. While the road seeking after God certainly has certainly yielded moments of indescribable peace and rest for my soul, these have invariably been interrupted by a sadness equally beyond words.

Many years ago a middle school girl was sharing her relatively new spirituality with me and she captured it succinctly. “Life was so much easier before I believed”, she said. “I didn’t question every little decision and didn’t analyze every single thing. It’s almost as if I was happier before I cared about God.” It was an honest confession of the tension many of us deny the longer we experience it.

That’s what so difficult about the spiritual journey; the duplicity of it all. When your faith is fully secure, prayer becomes the most intimate of conversations with someone you know well and love, but when in crisis it feels like talking to the ether; the nonsensical ramblings of a delusional madman. A belief in God which once filled you with such contentment, now makes you feel more than a little bit crazy.

I’m learning how to momentarily withdraw from spiritual striving for the sake of my sanity.

During those moments when things seem most chaotic, when I feel the most desperate for answers that simply refuse to come—I stop looking. As much as I am able, I temporarily give myself permission not to care. In those moments I am not abandoning God or faith, I am merely retreating until I feel strong enough to re-enter the fray of asking and wrestling and seeking and waiting.

I am finding that his act is in itself, the greatest of soul care.

Those times of voluntary surrender, strangely enough are often ones I look back on as the times of greatest peace and of deepest spiritual growth; the moments I rest in a truth that is beyond my understanding, outside of what my mind can grasp, and far greater than my inability to figure it all out. Suddenly I am well again.

When you think deeply and long passionately and seek earnestly in this life, you are bound to encounter profound unrest along the way. That’s how investing in anything works: the more you have at stake, the greater the risk.

As you seek to know the great mysteries of this life, there will be a cost, and in those times when you are filled with doubt and guilt and worry, be okay with both the questions that come and the emotional upheaval they bring. You are being stretched beyond what you are currently capable of understanding, and these are the soul’s growing pains. Trust that God is in this process.

If you are in the middle of a spiritual crisis, take heart.

You may not be losing your faith or your mind.

You may simply be shifting as you grow.


“if Order Now:
AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Thoughtful ChristianWJK Books

44 thoughts on “Am I Losing My Faith or Just Losing My Mind?

  1. This is great, thank you.

    Just spent an hour in therapy with my doubts and in essence, received the same encouragement as you’ve shown here. Got in my car, and a sermon by a biblical literalist, angry, fundamentalist pastor was on the radio- reminding me how utterly disgusting I am and how hell is waiting for me if I don’t stop with the doubt and start obeying.

    When your belief system unravels to reveal a broader world view, the pieces of the childhood indoctrination of faith start to fall apart. I don’t know how to go back into the box nor do I want to. We seek to grow intellectually & emotionally in all areas as we grow up, yet in matters of faith, it is considered “unwavering” and “steadfast” to stay in a child-like state.

    I second the young girls thoughts about God. The world is much easier to accept without the complication of reason or meaning. I don’t need to see a rainbow to know God won’t flood the earth again (although I’m pretty sure some victims of violent flooding would take issue with that), I can appreciate a rainbow for the phenomenon it is. I am exhausted of religion and exhausted of God. I am spending so much time obsessing over it, I fear I am missing out on truly enjoying this life for what it is.

    Today it feels good to be honest. I’m not sure what I believe anymore, and I’m tired of the constructs of God we make up that we can live with.

  2. An interesting question you pose John:

    Neither of the answers embedded in the question are life giving, fulfilling or signs of abundance.
    I pray the day comes sooner than later when no one would even think to ask that question.
    Here is the reason why. Our words, actions or piety have nothing to do with our relationship with God in terms of acceptance by God of us.

    In other words, we cannot please or displease God. God does not exhibit human emotion, judgment and fear however we manufacture our own lack of peace of mind and belief in our closeness to God.. Whatever we say do or think from the mortal brain hasn’t a thing to do with our true nature; the Consciousness and Mind of God. Our mortal brain is nothing more than stardust and will decay and become atoms for some other purpose, but our true nature is eternal spiritual consciousness..
    We either talk, think and act from fear based and erroneous teachings – handed down for centuries – – designed to keep the human element subservient to the powers of the religious enterprises; or we believe, think and act from the Higher Power and Higher Consciousness which gives life and creates everything we experience in the flesh and in our Soul.

    It’s really important that we understand this blink of an eye existence in the flesh can’t even be measured within the whole of our eternal souls existence. Think about this; in terms of our concept of time, think of billions and trillions, or quadrillions or sextillions of years and know that doesn’t scratch the surface of eternity – that is who and what our souls are – ageless and we worry and fret about 70 or 80 or 90 years???

    That always present power of the Universe is composed only of Love, only of Joy and only of Hope.
    Once anyone understands and totally embraces that Love, Joy and Hope the aforementioned question becomes as foreign as any of the past misconceptions that science and modern day thinking have corrected. Think ‘flat earth’ – that is how far out of truth the thinking is of separation from God. Knowing the earth is a sphere is in alignment with the Love, Joy and Hope of God therefore truth..

    Once we know deep within and lock onto the knowledge that we are not required to do something to be in God’s favor the burden of questioning our relationship with God will forever be gone and never to return. Then we experience Joy and Love as permanent, unshakable and eternal facts of our Being..

  3. Chronic illness just compounds life’s already difficult circumstances. WHY GOD? Is my appropriate question, and He often answers…later.
    I’ve learned that faith is not a feeling, not an emotion, not the same as Sunday morning goosebumps but it is instead the choice to believe. And to keep believing and asking for those answers and choosing to serve dispite FEELING He might have left me alone.

  4. As a therapist for many years prior to my pastoral ordination, I found a high correlation between anxiety and religion that I attributed to a common misunderstanding of God and godliness, righteousness, and holy perfection. The faulty belief is that God is in control, therefore perfect and we should therefore strive to do likewise . Reality is that control is motivated not by love but rather fear. As we become fearfully in control over persons and situations, we paradoxically separate ourselves from God. Our fear casts out God’s perfect love. God has no fear nor interest in having control over people or situations . Until we accept this love, righteousness, Holy perfection in God and strive to do likewise, we remain anxiously separated from God. Our faith in the non-controlling God saves us from that sinful separation. The trick is in our cognitive change as required for true repentance from our fearful, sinful control OVER and to our loving influence WITH God. It’s hard to overcome our dissonance that says control is mightier than influence. Thankfully, it’s only hard but not impossible.

  5. If only we let go and trust in the exquisite love of G-D…………………beyond ideas of what , how things should be (Rumi)…………then as, St. Augustine says, our soul will be at rest. We will learn to know ourself, and experience those things St. Paul describes in his writings that are, joyfully, beyond our understanding………..and learn to embrace G-D’s embrace as Mary, Jesus’ mother did.

  6. I am going through the the doubt big time . I have be a victim of depression and anxiety myself and also suffered from self-esteem issues and self worth as well. For a while I chose to believe in spiritual growth but I was never getting anywhere with it which made me angry and now I feel I’ve completely lost faith in it. People say I am phycic . Yeah right I second guess everything. I have wanted my whole life so far to be loved back the same way I love but and always disappointed. I gety heart crushed over and over and now am on a relationship where I feel easily disposed and very devalude. I am losing faith in love and losing faith in everything around me. I don’t know what to believe anymore. There’s never been any proof . I need the proof as sad as it is that’s the way for me to believe .
    There are times I wish that life would take me as in to much of a coward to do it myself . People around me tell me how strong I am but im sick of hearing it. Im not strong, in fragile and Im getting angrier and angrier with life and the way it treats me. I feel like in being punished for something I’ve done yet I can seem to think of anything because I try to be a good person.
    I don’t know who to talk about this with either because everyone has there own beliefs. I just don’t know if anything is even out there or if it’s just something to make people feel better if they believe in something .

Comments are closed.