I would like you to meet a friend of mine, Laura Boggess. We first met almost two years ago at the Jumping Tandem Retreat – her beauty, gentle nature and contagious laugh quickly drew me to her. As I continued to see her at other retreats and conferences, my admiration of her grew. This week is super busy for Laura because it is the launch of her new book Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World, so I was very excited when Laura paused for this interview, as we sit on the porch for coffee.
Diane: Laura, When did you first understand God was calling you to a childlike faith?
Laura: That’s a hard question to answer, Diane. Because, looking back, I can see how it seemed to sink in over time. I think He has been calling me to this type of relationship all my life. Even as a child I was serious and quiet, not always open to play. But it wasn’t until the past few years that I have given myself to it fully. I began to explore different spiritual disciplines and started meeting with a spiritual director. I learned to listen and look for God in new ways. In January 2011, when I started a Playdates with God link up on my blog, it was a way to share the joy I was rediscovering.
Diane: Was there a point in your life when you felt the adult in you chose to put away the childlike ways, or did it come slowly without much notice?
Laura: I think when I was eleven years old and my parents decided to divorce there was definitely a turning point. We moved away from our childhood home—from the woods that had always been a gracious playmate and my brothers and sister and I had to become much more independent. Our mother was working for the first time in our lives and there wasn’t always an adult to watch over us. Being as introverted as I was, I tended to view this newfound freedom with fear instead of as an adventure. It seemed like I had to grow up very quickly.
Diane: Can you give us a short overview of what Childhood looked like for you?
Laura: When I was little, we led a very sheltered life. My mother and my siblings and I were part of a fundamentalist faith community that believed in strict separation from the world. So the congregation we were part of was really our only social network and acted as an extended family. It was a big part of our lives. My father didn’t attend church with us. My memories of that time are happy, content. My siblings and I were very close as young children and the rural setting of our home was our playground. We were out-of-doors a lot—though I less than my sibs—I remember being scolded many times for wanting to stay inside and read a book. We were not very well off and did not have a lot of possessions, so the type of play we engaged in required a lot of imagination. Also, we were expected to work—feed the chickens, do the dishes, help mom work in the garden—we had chores and learned early the value of hard work.
Unfortunately, that happy time did not last. As I mentioned earlier, my parents divorced when I was eleven or twelve. My mother was ex-communicated from our faith community and the people we thought were our family turned away from all of us. Then we moved from our country home to a ramshackle rental downtown and it was like tearing up flowers by the roots. That was a difficult time. I’m able to look back now and see how God was in that time of sorrow; and also see how He has used it to make me who I am today.
Diane: At one point, you were ready to surrender your talent and give up on writing. How would you encourage someone who feels the same way?
Laura: I would encourage that person to do what I did: keep talking and listening for God in the difficult place. Sometimes I hold on to my dreams too tightly. I forget that God wants to prosper my heart and conform me to the image of Christ. Do I trust His way? Honestly? Sometimes I don’t. This is when I rant and rave (as I confess in the book) and have a temper tantrum. But if I stay open to what God might be saying in this process, I usually learn something valuable and emerge more spiritually mature. For me, this has been both a painful and beautiful process at times.
Diane: What one piece of advice would you give to someone struggling to find a childlike faith in their grown-up world?
Laura: Make room for play! Set aside a special time each week to explore something new, experience something fresh, or try to see something old with new eyes. And invite God into that space. Practice being with Him in this way. And prepare for wonder.
Laura’s new book, Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up Word is now available on Amazon.
Author of the newly-released Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World, Laura Boggess lives in a little valley in West Virginia with her husband and two sons. She is a content editor for TheHighCalling.org and blogs at lauraboggess.com. Connect with Laura on Facebook and Twitter.
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