Mine is a holy curiosity.
Growing up, I was rather shy. If you’ve met me in real life, that may come as somewhat of a shock, but throughout elementary school I observed and I noticed before I took action. I thought before I spoke, always. I feared singing into a microphone, even though I could carry a tune, and I found more solace sitting on top of the kitchen heater reading The Babysitter’s Club than I did flitting from house to house.
Then, the summer before seventh grade, I got contacts. I swam for hours at the neighborhood pool every day, and when puberty coincided with activity, I shot up a couple of inches and lost the baby fat that came with childhood.
And I gained all the confidence in the world.
Suddenly, my priorities changed. But for the books I had to read (yet still enjoyed, like Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings), I chose people. I wasn’t afraid to be who I’d always been, because I felt like my insides and outsides had finally caught up with each other. My friendship circles grew, and I began to get to know people in every group within the school: the preps, the skaters, the nerds, the choir kids, the leadership kids, the drama kids, the athletes.
I learned that people liked to be asked questions and they liked to talk about themselves and they like to be encouraged. They liked to tell stories and they liked to laugh and they liked to be known.
So I began to know people.
I began to learn what it means to be a good friend, to everyone, so for awhile, that became my identity: Cara the friend.
It’s a badge I wore with honor, and like you, I suppose, a badge of honor I still wear today, although with a smaller number of people than the approval I sought from an entire graduating class.
As I got older, I began to hold my cards closer to my chest. I wanted to know and believe that I could trust people before I showed them my hand. So instead, I’d put my best listening face forward. I’d listen, listen, listen intently, and then I’d ask, ask, ask deliberately.
But here’s the thing: whether my motives were right or wrong at 10, 15, 25 years old, they still show me that the journey that began when I gained confidence as a thirteen year old continues today.
For it’s a journey of knowing people.
When I was in full-time ministry, I had a favorite game I loved to play with middle school and high school students. We’d be sitting across from each other at bubble tea or Starbucks, sipping our drinks, and I’d ask them if they wanted to play Twenty Questions. It was as simple as that: I’m going to ask you twenty questions about your life, and you’re going to answer.
It’s a rather easy game to play, if you ask me, because there’s no right or wrong answer.
What’s your favorite color?
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’d count the questions on my fingers, and sometimes we’d lose track of what number we were on because the conversation had beautifully derailed – but sometimes, an hour or two later, we got all the way to twenty.
And it was always a sublime moment, for I knew this person, this human, this beautiful creature in a whole new way, and they were known in return.
Knowing people was and is and will always be the holiest of curiosities to me.
Because when we are known, when someone takes the time to ask us a question or two and really, actually wants to know what we have to say, our heart grows an inch.
So if you and I meet in person, and I ask you a question, know that I want to hear what you have to say. I want to hear what makes you tick, and what makes you sad and mad, feeling all the feels of every emotion in between. I want to know your deepest passion, the subject you could talk circles around if you and I were stuck next to each other, sharing air and two-inch arm rest space on a Boeing 747 for one long and stuffy multiple-hour flight.
I just want to know you.
For you, human, are my holy curiosity.
Holy curiosity: it’s our theme for the year in the guest post series. And maybe you, like me, will put fingers to your keyboard in an attempt to write about what holy curiosity means to you, and something entirely different than you expected will come out. (Take note of the above writing: I thought I’d write about books or writing or, you know, taking time to smell the roses everyday. But nope, it’s people. Who knew?) So, join us. Submit a post. Add your voice to the mix. Otherwise, what are your thoughts on my holy curiosity?
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