“All my childhood, I told my parents that I wanted to grow up and live in a big city. And all my childhood, my parents responded with, ‘No you don’t. You’d hate living in a big city because driving is terrible and there are too many people and big cities are too crowded.’ Just once, I wanted them to ask me why? I wanted them to wonder what made me different from them. I wanted to be known.”
A friend of mine recently shared this with me, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Isn’t that what we all long for? For someone, especially the people who love us most, to be curious about who we really are?
Maybe curiosity is the secret to meaningful relationships. And if it is, no wonder so many of us fail to connect with the people we most love. As soon as my friend shared her story with me, my mind flashed to conversations I’ve had with my kids when I’ve been so caught up in instructing and replicating myself in them that I’ve missed discovering who they actually are, who they are becoming. It’s so easy, because they came from me, to imagine them as tiny replicas, people I’m forming to like what I like and see the world as I see it. But inside each little body is an emerging soul, with plans and dreams that I cannot yet comprehend. Am I listening for that soul? Am I watching to see their real selves appear? Am I honoring who God is making them to be?
In therapy, my counselor uses this phrase whenever we notice a relational pattern or inner struggle that might be important for me to understand. “Let’s be curious about that part of you,” she says. Let’s be curious.
I wonder what would happen if I lived with an Invitation to Curiosity, if I parented in such a way where I am looking for the budding dreams inside my boys. “I wonder what you love most about this song.”
“I wonder what you were worried about last night when you woke up crying.”
“I wonder what you felt when I yelled at you this morning.”
And what if I brought that curiosity out into the big, bright world? What if I were actually curious about the deep-down thing in my husband’s mind? What if I were curious about the rude waiter or the angry driver? What if I asked myself who is there underneath their actions, instead of how I’ve been slighted?
It’s simple, really, curiosity. And the simplest invitations are usually the most important.
Photo Credit: The Wandering Angel on Flickr