I Want a Break From God

My high school senior English teacher was pretty much Elaine from Seinfeld. I loved her. We all loved her. During one of her famous passionate lectures, she once commented about how nice it must be to be a stupid person. She explained that there must be something quite freeing about being able to shut off your brain and quit thinking about something–to essentially think about nothing.

Because intelligent people, she argued, were always thinking. In fact, they never stopped thinking…and it was exhausting. She envied the dumb.

This resonated with me (not that I consider myself brilliant by any means)–the fact that I cannot stop myself from thinking. I read this the other day and smiled because it is me: “I’ve been overthinking about overthinking again.”

You’d think that thinking would prove more fruitful, but no. Instead, I wonder how I get here again and again. It seems so futile–the race and the running, when despite my best effort I find myself doing just that.

And that is part of the problem, my effort. I hate striving. I hate watching “Christians” strive for Jesus. Wondering what we can do for God instead of being with God. Working instead of abiding. Trying instead of receiving.

So when it’s my turn, I feel like a failure and a liar. A fraud.

All those sad thoughts that wrap me up like warm blankets making me forget His goodness. All those sad thoughts that infiltrate my mind making yesterday feel so present and tomorrow seem so hopeless.

And I drop a glass while unloading the dishwasher. “Shit,” I yell looking at the broken pieces of glass feeling helpless to do anything about it. Mine as well be me, I think–shattered into a million pieces. Then I know I’m in no state to minister to anyone. I’m the one who needs to be ministered to. And intellectually I know that’s okay. I know it’s okay and acceptable for me to have a bad day or a bad week, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty when I do.

Instead, what I want is to take off my armor of God and slip out of the Spirit for a moment and just be…by myself. I don’t want to think like Jesus, act like Jesus, talk about Jesus…for just a minute. Really…for one minute…

I want a break from God.

Yes, I love Him. Yes, I adore Him. Yes, I know that in Him and by Him and through Him all things have their meaning, but I’m tired. Tired of thinking, tired of pretending, tired of saying the right things at the right time. I wonder if He blames me or if He gets it. If He understands my desire to hit “pause” on this Christian life.

It’s not that I want to run away forever or abandon my faith. I’m not even having a crisis of faith, I’m just sore and achy from the burden of this life hidden in Jesus. I feel beat up, bruised and I know that if I could just stop thinking I’d gain some relief.

A break. Aloneness. Stillness. Apart from God.

But, I know it’s not possible and not only is it not possible, it’s ludicrous. One moment apart from Jesus would feel like a thousand years outside His tent. Because I don’t really want a break from God.

Really what I want, what I need, is freedom from “being a Christian.”

I need to be reminded again that I don’t serve an institute or a building. I don’t worship or fear man, but rather the Living God. And He will give me all the time I need to recapture Him and embrace this revelation, once again.

The Spirit will give me a break from myself, from my striving and trying, from my old patterns and unhealthy notions. I need only ask.

Because I can run, but I can’t hide. Jesus will find me. There are no breaks from God–only rest in Him and redemption. {sigh}…and that’s a good thing for those of us who can’t stop thinking.

Have you ever felt like you wanted a break from God? Or from Christianity? Or church? Or religion? What did you do and what did God do?


38 thoughts on “I Want a Break From God”

  1. Wonderfully honest! Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share the bedraggled side of things. It’s raw and needing to be heard by many. If you haven’t already, check out:

    “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by: Brennan Manning

    That book resonates with this post. It’s a game-changer!

  2. I am actually just climbing out of that “I need a break hole”. You put into words exactly what I was feeling. Six months or so ago, I returned home after having lived in Dubai for a while. Life there was seemingly perfect, there seemed to be no hurt, no homelessness, no people broken and struggling (how easily I was deceived). I assumed that since people had roofs over their heads and food in their bellies that they were okay.

    And then I came back to Lebanon to resume my studies, and I wished the earth would open up and swallow me whole. In the time that I’d been away, there were more Syrian refugees in Lebanon, more homeless people, more children sent out by men who controlled them to beg for money, more children assigned to women guardians and drugged so that they would seem disabled and garner more sympathy.

    I could not understand how God could allow so much misery and so much brokenness and so much abuse. I was mad at Him, and I could not reconcile the love of God with the ugliness that I saw, day in and day out. Add to that, that when I first returned, there were explosions in different parts of the city, and every time I went out of the house I felt walls closing in on me, and my hands shaking whenever I had my back to the street at an ATM.

    But I now recognize that I needed a break from “church”. I needed to unpack a lot of the theology that I learned at my church in Dubai, and unlearn it as well. It was a lovely church, and the fellowship there was great, but I just did not agree with the theology, and it made me wonder what was wrong with me, that I had different convictions than everyone else. Now, I am teaching myself every day that I am loved, I am accepted, and that I can form my own convictions about life and church issues.

    Thank you for your great post!

    – Carmen

    1. Carmen,
      Thank you so much for sharing. I think the disparity between suffering in life and recognizing God as loving can be a difficult one to reconcile. I have been reading a bit about suffering as of late and the one theme that emerges is that God is always victorious. It may take years, years past our own lifetime even, but evil is always overcome.

      And you said “Now, I am teaching myself every day that I am loved, I am accepted, and that I can form my own convictions about life and church issues.” Amen and yes! Praying too that the Holy Spirit teaches you things, as well, and that they take root as truths guiding your life. Blessings!

  3. Yes, yes, and oh yes.

    Several days ago I almost called your husband to vent my frustration at the inane, tedious, predictable, and asinine debates raging on within the Christian Blogosphere about theology.

    Justification, sanctification, reformed, Weslyan, etc., etc., etc. I simply had hit total saturation and wanted to throw it all away and just BE a son of God, redeemed through His Blood of the New Covenant, adopted, Saved, and merely relating to Him as best as I am able this side of Heaven with sin as my constant antagonist, and His Spirit as my constant counsel.

    To hell with it all, I said to myself, because not a one bit of it, not one word, not one ideal, not one back-and-forth with another believer online, whether in encouragement or disagreement, really mattered except for Christ and His relationship with me.

    So, without calling Jonathan, I determined in my heart and spoke aloud the fact that I was DONE with pissing contests with believers, arguing over Greek translations, having to become an apologist (can you imagine?) with members of His Body regarding His Sovereignty and Power and present-day ministry, and all that it entailed. DONE. No more. Finito. Seriously, to hell with it all, because none of it was drawing me closer to Him, and isn’t that the real point?

    I, too, sometimes need a break from speaking of Jesus to others. I, too, sometimes need to just be allowed to put down the face of sterling son and competent prophet, and just BE A SMALL BOY clinging to His Father. The best part about our Father’s embrace is that it is “theology-free”.

    So I applaud your honesty, sister. I do. Thank you for saying aloud what many of us are realizing. His Church, His Body needs to be freed from our meddling and labeling and fussing about. As cliche and silly as it sounds, Can’t we all just get along and BE His Bride, once and for all?

    Until I see His Spirit making that happen, I am content to merely speak within my sphere of influence, sparing myself the inevitable “Jesus hangover” I experience after long periods of debate and fruitless reasoning with those who would seek to control, quench, and maintain The Spirit of their own efforts.

    Like you, I reckon it is not actually Jesus I need a break from. It’s arguing about Him to other family members that I need a break from. :)

    1. FWIW, I am now officially “theology-free”. Can I say how liberating it is? My response (not reaction, mind you) is to merely shrug my shoulders and smile ever so slightly when other believers blatantly throw down their theological gauntlets on me, seeking a fight. I used to revel in that; I used to be “that guy”. No more.

      My name is Donald Borsch Jr., and my Father has named me Redeemed. That’s all that matters. My “theology” is sonship. Period.

    2. Donald,
      You spoke to my heart here, in part, because you spoke what I often think–that the constant Christian debate is both fruitless and distracting.

      I love too the reminder that it’s not that I need to escape from God at times, so much as remember that I am a small child being asked to sit upon her Father’s lap. {sigh} a truth so difficult for me to grasp let alone practice.

      But, He’s bringing me along.

      And yes! Let’s just be His bride–spotless and without blemish, pure, holy, and loved.

  4. I am feeling the same way. In my current city my wife and I have not found a church we are completely happy with. Most of them expect you to take a new member’s class before becoming “official.” And then they expect you to join a small group to really “belong” to the church. The problem is that due to the inconsistent work schedules we both have ( I change shifts once a month; my wife changes her shifts every 3 months or so), we cannot commit ourselves to either of these requirements. Furthermore, the church that has our memberships now is one of these top-heavy small group focused churches; and I feel that our pastors and small group leaders shunned us because we had some financial struggles that arose from my wife being unable to work for a year due to a blood clot and also IMHO because we did not commit to taking part in an “Outlive Your Life” campaign where we were to step out on faith to do something big for God like missions, adoption, tithing, etc.

    1. I confess that I laugh out loud when people push me towards a “membership class” to “join” their local church. Seriously. I mean, it’s like your wife demanding to see the marriage certificate before she’ll have sex with you.


    2. Jimmy,
      My heart breaks to read your words.I am sorry that you have stumbled upon such unloving, grace-less, checklist “Christians.” God has more for you. Please believe that. Please know that.

      I commit to be praying for you and your wife to find a church family that is loving, kind, understanding and well, family. He cares far too much about us being in relationship so I am trusting, for you both, that God will provide.

  5. Hey Nicole.. To answer your question; yes, i have felt like taking a break from all of the above. I actually stopped communicating with God for, hmm.. 2 whole years. And in the end I was miserable as I was never before. My reasons to separate myself from religion, church, churchy people and ultimately God, had probably different reasons than you seem to have. Nonetheless, at my lowest, I felt like a orphaned child. The scripture in the end that turned my thought life upside down was this one: ” For she that is entered into his rest, she also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest.. (Hebrews 4:10, 11 KJV)”
    Imagine that. Lord God himself wants me to quit. Quit trying, working, doing.. The only effort I have to make is to enter in his rest. Woah! Holy relief! And so.. Every time my brain was going in overdrive, I thanked Him. Thank you Abba.. Only thing you want for me is to chill. I’m your beloved. I am the righteousness of God in Chist (dang..) And then I would start painting. Or singing. Or going grocery shopping. And now I have unlearned, for 98 %, to go crazy in my mind.

    Thanks for your transparency, you are great. :)
    With love,

  6. You hit a resonating note with this post, Nicole…I was there just months ago. I had been serving at my local church for several years, in a variety of roles, up to and including preaching the message for a few months while we were in transition between pastors. And then, once someone had been selected, and the burden was off, I realized that I had gotten lost in the process and forgotten the Person of Jesus – and I had to get away. I resigned from all my “positions” and actually stopped attending; I chose to spend some time re-learning how to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, and to know who He is…and remembering that it’s not my “job” to follow Him, it is my privilege!

    I have been blessed to discover a new gathering of believers who do not hold to rigid rituals or a hierarchy of “service” but rather allow the Holy Spirit to move among us as He wills, and we are free to respond without reproach. It is glorious to live in worship, not attend it! And I have to say, Thank you, for being open to share your experiences, and allow me to see there is a better way, a biblical way…His Way.

  7. Thank you for writing this today. I have been feeling the same way for awhile now; totally in love with Jesus, but absolutely tired beyond tired of “the church”. I’m worn out, and I don’t have any answers. The only thing I can do is take it to Him and lay it at His feet every day, and pray, pray…pray. I pray that more will find Jesus and not the institution, and I pray that I won’t let the church world effect my relationship with Him. I am glad I am not alone in feeling this way, and thank you for having the courage to write this.

  8. I completely relate to this, Nicole. I’m such an over thinker, and I’ve been such a doer. I’m always reading something, learning something, trying to get to the next place that I need to be in the Christian life.
    It’s been lovely, lately, to realize that I’m the one demanding all of this movement out of me. In fact, often Jesus wants me to stop so that He can move.
    Love these words. Thank you.

    1. “I’m always reading something, learning something, trying to get to the next place that I need to be in the Christian life.
      It’s been lovely, lately, to realize that I’m the one demanding all of this movement out of me. In fact, often Jesus wants me to stop so that He can move.”

      THIS. #commentwin

      I refuse to read “flavor-of-the-month Christian self-help” books. Even with the best of intentions and the most pure desire of our hearts, when we become dependent upon the writings of mere men (and women), those writings, those “new and powerful teachings of The Holy Spirit” become nothing more than idols and distractions. There is one Rock Star in Christianity, and He cannot be found on a book tour or a signing at the local Christian bookstore.

      (This is not to say there are not legitimate servants of our King speaking the things He would have them say in book form, no. There are some solid Biblical teachers out there, of course. But they are revealed to be true sheep and not goats, believe me, glorifying Christ Jesus and not their own particular ministries that conveniently ask you to donate to them after you read their books.)

      I get discouraged when I see other family members simply treating their covenantal walk with Christ as merely moving from problem to problem, one situation after another, again and again, until they become the Christians we all know who have CONSTANT struggles and problems to the point where those problems become their identities. I mean, for goodness sake, is the wholeness and totality of your relationship with Jesus based on your failures, your sins, your struggles, your problems, your controversies, your weaknesses, your ineptitude, your inability to BE a sheep instead of a cow that needs to be driven and no longer lead?

      (Cara, that wasn’t directed at YOU, no! I was speaking generically to whomever would listen. :))

    2. Cara,
      Such wisdom you shared here. The one “demanding the movement” is you. What truth and beauty. Jesus demands nothing, except us. Simple enough. Ha! But always a necessary and welcome reminder…so stop moving so He can move. Brilliant! Thank you!

  9. I feel ya 100% – i screw up and say who am i to help someone – i am so messed up- i get tired i want to just forget whats right for a moment …but then I know in the pit of who i am is the I AM and this knowledge will carry me He will carry me- no more striving …sigh…just breath and thank God that He has kept me alive

  10. I’ve often found that in times of stress and times of mourning, I don’t particularly care for being around other Christians. They’re quick with a cheap, empty, dismissive platitude when in fact, I’d rather they just say nothing at all and listen. It’s something in humanity where we want to help and have no idea how, so we turn to phrases and sayings that we hope will make things better. We need those moments to shut down and be human. Being “religious” requires a lot of work and energy, and people who don’t allow themselves the grace to feel human emotions, think human thoughts, or say human words will break down.

  11. Part of my story is just that. I was working with the youth at the church. I was feeling overwhelmed, burdened, and not passionate about the work I was doing. I told my dad, “I can’t do this anymore! I don’t know if I love God. I don’t think I want to serve Him!” My dad instead of reacting, in wisdom, he said, “Then don’t. Nobody is putting a gun to your head.” Then he sympathetically said, “Why don’t you just go to the “big people’s church” and just sit under the pastor’s ministry.”
    And when I decided to do that, I felt relief. When I told the youth pastor’s wife that, she told me I sucked. She may have told me that she’ll miss me, but I don’t remember any encouragement from her. But looking back she was a bit immature herself, at the time.
    I remember feeling relief and joy! I felt like a dry sponge that was being put under a water faucet. It was wonderful and just what I needed.
    It has happened several times but each time, I see that it is God’s way of moving me where He wants me.
    I don’t think Jesus said His words about coming to Him all who labor and are heavy laden and He would give us rest just to be wasting words.
    I think there are times we need to get away from church structure, in a sense, knowing that we will never get away from God.

  12. I feel like that right now. Before I became a Christian I loved Guns N Roses but afterward I destroyed anything that I felt didn’t line up with the will of God, including my daughter’s DVD’s. Just a couple weeks ago, I bought a few of the songs that I loved from GNR.

    I was just wondering too if God wants us to constantly think about him all the time. On Facebook, Beckah Shae put up re-mixes of contemporary hits to suit Christianity saying she wonders what the music would sound like if they glorified God.

    I do think about what God wants and weigh my actions with it and I do pray. I feel like I need to be me. Before Christianity I had a hard time being myself and I felt that that struggle still went on throughout my pursuit to follow God.

  13. I can totally relate to this. You remind me of myself, a woman with a very active conscience! The good thing about that is our desire to please God is definitely there! The challenge is, we can burnout and lose sight of the beauty and power of God’s kingdom…

    So I’m going to share an excerpt from Sarah Young’s ‘Jesus Calling’ devotional, (this is not a plug or anything I just really like her book :P)

    “To protect your thankfulness, you must remember that you reside in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely. A constant focus on adversity defeats many Christians. They walk through a day that is brimming with beauty and brightness, seeing only the grayness of their thoughts. Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds. How precious are My children who remember to thank Me at all times. They can walk through the darkest days with Joy in their hearts because they know that the Light of My Presence is still shining on them. Rejoice in this day that i have made, for I am your steadfast Companion.”

    That just happened to be today’s message! Hope you enjoy it! p.s. you’re writing is beautiful…

  14. My lovely friend, yes yes and yes! I have felt that way, do feel that way and am reminded by you and the Holy Spirit that He is the only one to rejuvenate my mind body and spirit. I think He does understand what we are feeling and is waiting for US to understand again, just what we always need, HIm, just Him. Thanks for posting

  15. You put in words exactly what my heart is feeling and sensing and knowing. As I read the comments below, I see that so many are feeling the same way these days. I have been a leader, pastor, friend, counselor and everything in between, yet the other day in my journal, I simply said “Christianity has not panned out the way I thought it would so I will just stick to focusing on Jesus, the simplicity of Christ.” I am tired, so very tired of debates of all kinds and all types that are never ending on Facebook and other places. I have wondered why I have stayed in the background, saying little and seemingly unseen in this season. Because of this, I realize that my spiritual vision is actually clearing up. And, my spiritual hearing is becoming more refined simply because I am focusing on the Lord in the simplicity of His grace, in the intimacy of His presence. Just some thoughts at random here.

    1. “And, my spiritual hearing is becoming more refined simply because I am focusing on the Lord in the simplicity of His grace, in the intimacy of His presence.”

      And another BOOM.

      Nicole, your readers are solid in their comments, I must say. I could tattoo what Debra said on my right forearm and be happy the rest of my days this side of our Father’s Kingdom.

  16. Sigh. Exactly, Nicole. I have felt this on and off in the past few years. I feel best when I’m just being normal, and God is there with me. I don’t want to go on mission trips, I don’t want to go into “full time ministry,” and I don’t really want to get super involved with my church (though I currently teach Sunday school, because I love kids, and I love teaching).

    I feel most myself, most who God created me to be, when I’m teaching Algebra to my rowdy, poorly behaved, weed-smoking, on probation, delinquent, cussing, sometimes rude and inconsiderate, loud ninth graders. They really can be all of those things, but I love them to death. I love them.

    I don’t like “Treasure Hunts” (going around town and finding someone to pray for), I don’t really like worship, and I don’t like a lot of Christian music–a lot of it sounds the same. I don’t like pretending to be all Holy and closing my eyes during church and “soaking” to Christian music. I get bored. I feel most alive when I’m talking about holistic health, and when I’m loving my ragamuffin ninth graders. Did I mention that I love them to death?

    I love God, but I get fiercely angry with him sometimes. And sometimes I just want to explode with joy for no reason other than. . .it’s just God.

    Sometimes my faith is absolutely pitiful, it’s almost embarrassing, that someone who calls herself a Christian would think some of things I do, and be angry at God, etc. It’s difficult for me to ask God for things, for myself. But I can pray for my kids at the school. I’m just in a weird spot with God.

    But yeah, I totally get what you’re saying.

  17. Okay, so let’s just get it out there. After re-reading your post again, and again, this is what my spirit is saying. I honestly hope this ministers to any who need it. I know it did to me.

    Who has saved you?

    Do you think He makes mistakes, or does things knowing they will fail?

    Hence, are you a mistake to Him, or are you exactly who He wanted?

    Do you know the number of hairs on your own head? No? Well, He does.

    Do you know what tomorrow will bring? No? Well, He is your tomorrow.

    Is your desire to “be a better Christian” for His benefit, or for yours? Or, even yet, is your desire to “be a better Christian” so others can see it, or for your own discipline and personal relationship, covenantal relationship, with Christ Jesus our King?

    Can any of us, through “demanded” effort, worry, ritual, or forced obedience, become “better Christians” in and of ourselves?

    Does Jesus ever get sick of us and our failures, or does The New Covenant give us the freedom to fail?

    Is it possible for us, as His chosen, His paid-for, and His redeemed, to exhaust His patience and love, to the point where He turns His back on us?

    Is Christ found in Bible study, prayers, and works of service, or is He truly Omnipresent despite our best (or worst) efforts?

    Is it that we want to spend eternity with Him, or that He has always wanted to spend eternity with us?

    Is it fear of Hell that drives us, or the desire of all nations, that being His presence and love, that propels us?

    Are we motivated by an unhealthy fear of Him, (be good of God’s gonna kill ya and send you to Hell!), or are we instead inspired by a healthy relationship with Him that falls totally upon His shoulders and His covenantal truth and not upon our efforts?

    Were any of us there when He created us from the dust? Can any of us improve upon His design?

    Is He our Father, or is He merely another false god of man’s creation, demanding and angry, full of suspicion/skepticism and holding a spiritual checklist that binds us with the religion of spiritual slavery?

    If we are truly “living for Jesus”, (denoting religious effort under the scrutiny of others, the tell-tale sign of a works-based belief which is no belief at all), shouldn’t we instead live “because of Jesus”, which is freedom indeed, and is absent of any unspoken expectations and mandated rules?

    Do we have the notion of what is to be “the true Christian life”, or can we simply be the children our Father wants us to be, casting aside each and every pre-conceived ideal of “true Christianity”?

    Who has determined what the “true Christian life” really is? Has Jesus ever drawn that line in the sand, or is it of man’s creation?

    If you have surrounded yourself with parasites and leeches, (under the false premise that church life is somehow the same as Kingdom Life), and you find yourself being weakened and feeling tired, then why not scrape off the dross and the dregs, bathing yourself in the purity of His all-consuming fire that is a genuine relationship with Him?

    Thanks for reading.

  18. Oh my gosh. Were you inside my head yesterday and today? I sooooo want to take a break from God, from people [uh, Christians], life, quiet times. All.Of.It. A sabbatical. Like for all of December, January and February. It sounds like the perfect thing to do right now. I’m exhausted. I don’t know what I’m going to do or what God is going to do with all of that right now. I’m too jumbled up and tired to ask Him.

  19. I’m so happy to have found your blog. I try to explain my brain’s ceaseless activity to others by saying “it’s like a radio I can’t turn off.” A friend and I talked once about intelligence being a burden, and how ignorance must truly be bliss. I relate to wanting to take a break. Not from God, but from what sometimes feels like a competition. People all around me are doing huge things for the Kingdom, adopting babies and feeding the homeless and I’m over here treading water, just trying to raise my kids and not burn dinner. Thanks for your honesty.

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