Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Restoring Damaged Spirituality

Some of you may recall that I read Kathryn Copsey's From the Ground Up: Understanding the Spiritual World of the Child earlier this year. It's proved to be one of those books that has added to my foundational knowledge of children's spirituality. (You can read my earlier posts here and here.) 

I'd like to continue the conversation about what to do when a child's spirituality has been damaged. Spirituality, which we can define as a child's need to connect with something greater than himself, is, as Copsey writes, the springboard to faith. So if we want to see children experience God, we should spend sometime considering how to see damaged spirituality repaired and transformed.  

One of thing things that struck me the most about Copsey's opinions on this subject was that "it takes a healthy village to raise a healthy child". In other words, a child's road to restoration  is the result of a group effort. Hefty and important words for our individual-centered society. I've heard over and over again through the years that one person can make a huge difference in a child's life, and I believe that, but it may well be that transformation occurs most often in the context of community. 

Relationships are key to a child learning to define themselves in new ways. Copsey quotes psychologist Daniel Stern's research that the sense of self develops from birth on through relationships. A baby comes out of the womb and begins to mimic the facial expressions of its parents. It makes sense. We learn who we are through constant engagement with those around us. And as Christians, we grow in who we are through engagement with God and his children. 

The child's setting needs support as well. It doesn't work to just pull the child out of the unhealthy setting. What kind of support might the parents of such a child need and how could the church walk alongside or assist? 

Finally, a healthy community will have these aspects:
- a respectful attitude towards children 
- people that are genuine and honest with the children
- a strong focus on relationships
-  a child centered-attitude in which children are valued, and it is recognized that they hold a special place in God's upside-down kingdom
- a place where people who work with children, both inside and outside the church, are valued
- recognition that adults can learn much from children as well as children learning from adults

Lord, help us to be the healthy communities that hurting children need! 


  1. Dear Sheila, I love reading your blog. Even though I don't have children yet, it's a huge inspiration, not only on how to raise children to become open minded people that trust in their own abilities and creativity, but also on how to stop from time to time and ask myself, how I see the world and myself and the people around me. It is very important, not to take this world and everything in it for granted, to be thankful and give back some of the luck one is receiving. Thank you for being such a role model. :)
    Deb V.

  2. Thank you so much, Deb, for your feedback and kind words! I am so glad that the things that I am learning can be useful to others as well.