Always Children

Jun 26 / Lacy Finn Borgo
Our truest identity is as a child of God. We will age, and we may mature, but we are always children of God. In the final chapter of John, Jesus encounters his disciples one more time. They are (unsuccessfully) fishing, and he's making breakfast on the shore. When he calls out to them, he calls them children. I wonder if Jesus was reminding them of what they knew when they were children. I wonder if he was reminding them of the times he brought a child into their midst and taught them what was most important.

Jenny, a dear friend, shared a story with me over iced tea one afternoon. The first experience of God she could remember was while jumping on the trampoline at her grandparents' house. She loved the feel of the wind in her hair, the power and dynamic energy that catapulted her into the sky. She felt wild and free and safe. At home, though, her dad worked a lot and wasn't able to connect with her. Her mother, it seemed to Jenny, preferred to lavish attention on her brother. And for a long time, she thought God was like them: too busy to connect with her and preferring boys rather than girls.

Still, Jenny could never shake the feeling that maybe God was something like the energy and power that catapulted her into the sky. She wondered if God was safe and wild and free, ready and willing to meet her in the strength of her own legs and launch her into the open. The contrast between her experiences with the adults in her life and what she experienced was a question that seemed to come to the surface in times of joy and excitement.

When as a young adult, she read in John 4 about Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, she was shocked to see his acceptance of this woman and the wild, free power Jesus gave the woman to share the good news she'd discovered. The Spirit—the Holy Knitter, who unravels and reknits what is misshapen or broken—unknotted and loosened Jenny's picture of God that did not reflect God's true nature. Then carefully, the Spirit took the threads of John 4, the images and words surrounding it, and wove it with Jenny's experience on the trampoline all those years ago—and a new picture emerged.

Welcoming Practices

Reflect on your picture of God. Think back to the adults in your life whose task it was to provide safety and healthy flourishing. What aspect of your picture of God did these adults shape? What aspect of your picture of God could use the tender attention of the Holy Knitter? Try praying the simple prayer "God, what are you like?" or "God, show me how I am your child."

Get curious. Write the question, "What is God like?" on an index card and place it in a spot that you can see frequently. Actively live with this question. Intentionally ask this question in everyday places and circumstances that might not seem particularly "religious." Jesus used bread and a lost coin to ask the question. How might reflecting on traffic, sibling squabbles, a demanding work situation, the family pet, or making dinner offer you an answer to What is God like?

Learn from a book. Reading and reflecting on children's books is an excellent way to welcome the child within and make space for the Spirit to reshape our life. The book Images of God for Young Children by Marie-Helene Delval and Barbara Nascimbeni can help us get in touch with the many reflections of God that surround us. Spend a full month in this lovely little book and see how your picture of God opens up.

Meanwhile, if you are sensing an invitation to discover God as mother, consider reading Mother God by Teresa Kim Pecinovsky and Khoa Le. It is beautifully illustrated and rooted in Scripture.

Lacy Finn Borgo, DMin

Lacy Finn Borgo, DMin, teaches and provides spiritual direction for various organizations in spiritual formation and spiritual direction including, Renovaré, The Companioning Center and Mercy Center, Burlingame. Lacy has a spiritual direction and supervision of spiritual directors ministry for adults, and provides spiritual direction for children at Haven House, a transitional facility for families without homes in Olathe, Colorado. Her book Spiritual Conversations with Children: Listening to God Together was released March 2020. Her children’s book All Will Be Well was released October 2022. Lacy lives on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains and worships with a local Quaker Meeting.