Also by this author: All Will Be Well: Learning to Trust God's Love
Published by IVP on May 9, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
Embrace the invitation of childlike faith. A well-known challenge of Jesus to his followers is to become like little children. But it's often difficult to remember the natural patterns of our childhood selves that enabled us to live freely in God's wonder-filled presence. Is childlike faith simply an unquestioning faith, or is it being present with ourselves in a way that invites healing and wholeness?
Faith Like a Child considers Jesus' invitation to childlike faith and explores seven distinct ways of welcoming the child within. Offering wisdom from years of experience as a spiritual director with both adults and children, Lacy Finn Borgo explores practices to welcome and enliven your childhood self. Offering examples of what becoming like children could look like, Borgo invites you to take Jesus up on his offer to live more deeply into a relationship with God.
As we welcome our childhood selves, we allow God to heal our wounds so we can live in freedom with Jesus as our companion.
We all know that Jesus told his followers that they should have “faith like a child,” but what does that mean? Throughout this book, Lacy Finn Borgo shares her perspective on how we can develop a childlike sense of faith by reflecting on our childhood experiences and embracing childhood behaviors such as play, imagination, and the willingness to experience wonder and make mistakes. She says that instead of viewing childhood as an inferior stage of development that we move beyond, we should reclaim the best elements of childhood by imagining, playing, and depending on God. She contends that changing our attitudes and behaviors will help us have better relationships with ourselves, with God, and with the children in our lives.
Faith Like a Child: Embracing Our Lives as Children of God shares helpful insights for people from different upbringings. Borgo encourages people who grew up in the church to reflect on their early spiritual experiences and ways that they connected with the divine, but she also acknowledges those who did not encounter Christianity until later in life, or who experienced distorted views of God in an unhealthy environment. She doesn’t idealize childhood, and acknowledges the loss of innocence that many people experience too early. I especially liked the chapter about processing wounds from the past and present, accepting the cycles of life instead of believing that we should experience linear success and improvement.
Borgo shares a variety of personal stories throughout the book, writing about her own struggles, her family, and her experiences interacting with children as an educator and all-ages spiritual director. Her knowledge and respect for childhood come through clearly, and she suggests ways that people can shift their paradigms to have a different experience of being God’s child. Borgo asks reflection questions for people to apply the book’s content to themselves, and she also suggests various practices. Some of these seemed too out there for me, such as creating an altar with a picture of your childhood self on it. It’s clear that the goal is to worship God, not yourself, but readers who don’t resonate with this will need to come up with their own ways to apply the same concepts.
I wish that Borgo had engaged with 1 Corinthians 13:11, which is the most obvious counterargument someone could make to her thesis. The verse says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” I thought it was odd that Borgo never addressed this verse to explain how you can hold this truth in tension with the idea that we should also return to childhood ways of processing that we have lost to unhealthy expressions of adulthood. She writes about other things that adults say to distance themselves from their childhood selves, but she never brings up this Bible verse. However, since I read an advance copy of this book, it is possible that this will change before publication.
Faith Like a Child is a unique book with a helpful perspective on faith. People’s mileage will vary based on how much they relate to the author’s stories and perspective, but each chapter includes helpful ideas to ponder and apply, even though this will require creativity in some cases. The author’s examples are often specific to women’s experiences and concerns, even to the point where I didn’t relate just because I have different problems, am younger, and am not a mother. Since this is not marketed as a women’s book, I want to mention how heavily woman-focused the examples are, so that women like me and men can go into this with the mindset of learning from the author’s wisdom without expecting to feel represented by many stories or examples. With the right expectations, this is a generally helpful guide and reflection tool.