An Excerpt Adapted from the new book:
Faith Like a Child:
Embracing Our Lives as Children of God
Lacy Finn Borgo
Westerners like me are a linear people. We appreciate a forward momentum that allows us to leave the past behind and focus on the future. Although following a recipe (that is, adhering to a linear process) might yield delicious brownies, life generally just doesn’t work that way. A + B = C is great for algebra, but that’s about it.
Our human journey is more like a spiral or Celtic knot. Imagine a spiral staircase that flows downward into increasingly tiny revolutions, the sides getting closer together with each turn, leading to unity with God. The shape of our human journey is something like this. We begin our life at the widest revolution of the spiral, living and learning from a place of wonder, discovery, and delight. We are fully present and connected to life. As infants and children, we are wired for connection. It’s essential to our survival, so we make eye contact and we mirror the people surrounding us. We are also learning organisms, so every part of us is present to our surroundings, taking in information that shapes and forms us. We experience God this way too. With innocence, we encounter God through first-time engagement with this new world we live in. As we learn, our relationship with God takes shape too.
God, who is not bound by human developmental stages, longs to connect with us our whole life long. And so God does. Through loving adults, through experiences of goodness, beauty, truth, wonder, and more, we encounter and connect with God. We are rooted in humble innocence, born in and living from the generous heart of God. We are wondering participants in God’s generous world. We begin in wonder.
As we walk the spiral of life, these experiences stay with us, sometimes as vivid memories, but more often as faint echoes of something we once knew. The wonder goes deep. Sometimes these memories are covered over by wounds, but they are not lost and they can be reclaimed.
And we are wounded. Our wounds and the wounds of the world run deep too. They drag us away from wonder and therefore away from connecting deeply with God and others. Our wounds deceive us about our fundamental identity as children of God. We expend energy, and a lot of it, trying to outrun our wounds or pretend they don’t exist. Yet in our woundedness God is with us, still inviting us to connect, to lean in, and bring our woundedness into the light. Care for our wounds begins by admitting their presence, and then treating the infection they cause, assessing and addressing the damage. Reclaiming our early experiences of wonder will help to heal our wounds and lead us more deeply into the withness of God.
Forgetfulness is characteristic of our woundedness. There are over 150 references to the practice of remembering in the Bible, including to remember God’s faithfulness, remember promises made, remember stories, and remember truths in danger of being lost. Therefore, much of our work requires remembering. Not only recalling, but literally re-membering: reattaching, integrating the parts of ourselves (our childhood selves) that have been buried, lost, ignored, or deliberately set aside. The movement from wounded to healing integration is about a life that is full to bursting with trust, hope, and love. It is a life mobilized by grace.
As we re-member, we learn to trust the Spirit to do the heavy lifting, just as children learn. We develop wider wisdom, greater character, and deeper love for God, self, and others. The longings and lessons learned through wonder and wound guide us back to God’s generous way that we knew in our beginnings. This journey will transform us. While we may not regain our childhood innocence, we will gain a Christlike character. We grow into God’s adult children.
God’s generosity means that there is no waste in the spiritual life. There are no throwaway events or people—much as we might chafe against that idea. Every experience, be it good or ill, can be used for God’s glory and our very best good. In a linear framework there is waste, that which doesn’t fit the prescribed path. But in a circular framework everything can be used. We only need to go outside and read nature, the first revelation of God, to see that everything belongs. Everything is useful.
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior
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