Cultivating your God-Given Gift of Curiosity
Updated: Aug 12, 2019
I attended a three-day training this past weekend and was once again reminded of this word CURIOSITY. Even the word itself sounds like something to be uncovered and explored.
After a full week of everyday work and life demands, waking up on Saturday and Sunday morning at 7am to make my hour-long drive to attend training, leaving behind a sweet and sleeping Drew was honestly difficult to do. I felt sapped of curiosity.
But God is always challenging this within me. Am I truly trusting that He will place me EXACLTY where I am supposed to be? I doubt it so easily, and then He proves once again to always know what is good for me, what I need, even if my tired body or mind tells me it’s not what I want.
I have been grappling with this concept of curiosity since the training. I would like to think I was always a curious child. Not necessarily curious to try something new (I was far too cautious for that), but curious as to how something came to be. From needing to understand the root of opinions like ‘BUT WHY do you like this dress more than that dress’, to wanting to understand how the first person who tasted all that is delicious about coffee and prawns came to make the first cup of coffee, and the first cooked prawn.
Without curiosity and the element of surprise our lives lack lustre and aliveness. When there is no desire or need to learn more, there is no more growing, or knowing. It is a dark and dangerous place when we start believing we know all that there is to know about our person, ourselves, about a place, about a subject, even about God. When we are no longer surprised or intrigued by our person, by ourselves, by a place, about a subject, by God.
Curiosity is understood to mean "the desire to learn or know someone or something; inquisitiveness".
I believe curiosity is God-sized and God-shaped. Therefore I believe we always ARE curious... sometimes it just feels like we lose access to our curiosity.
When we walk into a new space with an openness and with humble curiosity, when we ask curious ‘tell me more’ questions when our person is sharing, when we cross reference verses in the Bible to sit a little longer with the Lord, we open ourselves up to encountering pearls of wisdom, pearls in people, and pearls within ourselves.
God is full of surprises.
In life we are constantly greeted by His surprises. HE is not surprised but following Him brings a life of surprises. His surprises are intended to deliver us, and transform us, to be gifts of grace. Designed to release us from self-reliance and from the hold of needing our own way has on our lives. In the same way, allowing ourselves to be surprised by our person, releases us from the need to do life alone, and invites transformation. We often find Jesus in the unexpected, like unexpectedly finding Him in the people and the learnings from my training this weekend.
Very seldom are surprises, wonder and curiosity spoken of as ingredients for a thriving, successful relationship. For the most part, curiosity is associated with child-like behaviour and its presence seems to slowly diminish with age, leaving most adults stumbling through a life of same-old, same-old. Familiarity makes the relationship feel safe and dependable. But too much familiarity breeds contempt and stagnation, and we lose wonder and the ability to be as easily surprised. When we no longer feel we can be surprised by our person’s responses, when we think we can guess what they are thinking or feeling. A common feature of couples who find themselves in my counselling rooms are suffering from a loss of wonder.
In the flirty stages of meeting we gobble up every word our person utters and have that desire to learn or know them better. It is the time where a friendship is forged, and not only is love for one another deepened, but it is through curiosity that we begin to like who the other is. During this time, no piece of information is too small or trivial- we want to know it all.
Why do we lose this curiosity as our relationship matures over time? When we are no longer surprised by our person, our conversations and interactions become overly familiar and boring. This may sound surprising, but boredom has never been an ingredient for a lasting and happy relationship. We must know that curiosity has some sort of innate potential to foster and nurture a relationship, otherwise we wouldn't ask each other "how was your day?" and "how are you?", daily.
I don’t think we have any problem asking the “How was your day question?”, I think we have stopped being curious and genuinely interested about the answer.
After many years together, it can feel like we have asked everything, and we know everything there is to know. But if we see it as an opportunity to have some fun, it may surprise us that there is always something to learn about this person we thought we knew inside-out. To prevent curious questioning from being misinterpreted as interrogative questioning, I emphasise and encourage mutual curiosity. Drew and I would need to both engage in curious conversations for us to both remain present, active listeners, who are asking the right kind of questions to encourage connection and understanding. I want Drew to know that I want to know him and understand him better, I want to know what makes him tick at work, at home, in the bedroom, on the sports field, in church.
Curiosity says, “I notice you”, “I want to know you better”, “I am interested in knowing how you feel, how you experience your world”.
In our busy lives the last thing we need is some secret ingredient that takes up time when we have no more time to spare. What makes this relationship ingredient even more valuable is that it doesn’t require excessive effort. It’s simply a choice we need to make: ask with genuine interest and listen with genuine interest. You may be surprised to learn that even after many years of being together, your person is still capable of capturing your interest and fascination.
To be curious is a God given gift, that we should be better at gifting to ourselves, to our person, to the world around us. Curiosity is not a dangerous trap, Godly curiosity enables us to be in the world, but not of the world. Curiosity helps us grow in the Spirit, enables us to belong in community and love others like Jesus loved us. Curiosity is a force for good when it is driven, shaped and directed by a pursuit for what it True, honouring and pleasing to God. To be curious is to be other-centred, rather than self-centred. It desires to ask and to seek the truth. It invites playfulness and creativity into your friendships, into your home, into your cooking, into your work, into your relationship with God, into your marriage, into your sex life. To be curious opens us up to new possibilities and to exploring new territories of who you are, who you were made to be, of your husband’s mind and body, of your Bible.
Like a child I bring my questions, my wonderings, my curiosity to God and He is infinitely patient with me.
God delights in our curiosity, in our desire to know Him deeply and intimately. What a gift it is for me to delight in my husband, to ask to know him deeper and more intimately.
Like God, who is so patient and tender with our questioning hearts, pause next time you ask your person a question, take in their response, what shifts did you notice in their body as they spoke, what did their eyes do when they shared something that interested them, what is something you would love to know more about your person, what is something new you have learnt that you didn’t know before. Ask open questions, listen for the answers and let that answer lead into another question - just like you did when you were dating.
Curiosity is one of the most valuable characteristics a relationship can possess. Curiosity connects, builds and revives relationships and couples who dare to dig a little deeper.
Here are my 5 favourite curious questions:
1. What would be your dream vacation with me? Describe in detail where we would go and what we would do?
2. If you had to change your career and do something totally different, what would you do?
3. How do you predict the movie/ book series we are watching/ reading will end?
4. In your wildest dreams, where would we be at exactly this time in 5 years?
5. And my all time favourite one that we use at home: Name something that you learnt and relearnt, and something that surprised and intrigued you today.
To stay curious is to remain present, to engage with yourself, your person and your world in an adventurous way. From the moment you wake up, stay curious. Invite curiosity into your quiet times with God. Ask Him to reveal new parts of His character to you in unexpected ways. Pray that you will remain expectant and willing to be surprised by Him, that the same way He remains curious about us, that we will remain curious about those He places in our path. If you are in a field that offers training or learning opportunities, my encouragement is to gift yourself with the privilege of learning in community.
By the end of my 3 days of training I felt revived and inspired. Drew barely opened the door to welcome me home and I was bubbling over with excitement, an eager beaver to share my learnings. I am so grateful for this man who anticipated my arrival home, made us each a cup of tea on Sunday evening and sat with me at our little table in our kitchen, and asked: SO, tell me about your training?
And he meant it.