Guest post Tuesday! I’ve got the lovely Mallory Redmond here with us today – and I sure do love how she weaves the themes curiosity and holy together. So, get comfy and pull up a chair …and then do as she implores you to do, and urge those around you to Tell You More. Enjoy!
It’s somewhat miraculous that I didn’t grow up thinking my first and last name were “Be Quiet.” I was a chatterbox—I talk loud and, at least in my younger years, I spoke often. Very often.
Which is why the three words this woman said to me on a rainy Seattle day in 2012 stunned me to my core:
“Tell me more,” she asked.
You mean you want me to keep talking? I’m not talking too loud, saying too much, BEING too much? It felt too good to be true; but there she sat, looking so confident in her request, waiting for me to continue.
It wasn’t like I was telling a hilarious and entertaining story. I wasn’t being some wildly captivating version of myself, blending jokes with adventure and suspense, leaving her entranced and wanting more. Very much on the contrary, I was telling her of the depression I was experiencing—about how lonely I was while, confusingly, still continuing to choose isolation. I told her of my anxiety and the overwhelm I felt when faced with the smallest task.
And, to that, she said, tell me more.
So, I did what many people struggling with depression and anxiety, in a battle to believe their own self worth, might do: I cried. They weren’t tears of defeat or distress; they were tears of relief.
She sees me, I thought, she sees me AND she’s staying.
I vulnerably shared with this woman the struggles I was facing and she immediately met me with curiosity, which made me feel like a worthy person with a story to tell. I wasn’t being lumped into some category of “just another” depressed and anxious American. I had an individual experience that deserved to be heard (and you do, too).
I think most curiosity is, in and of itself, holy. The very nature of curiosity is desiring to know more about something or someone, which disallows our own assumptions to be the end of the story. When we seek to learn more, we are opening ourselves up to have our viewpoint expanded. When our curiosity leads to a person feeling seen, or it overrides the confines of our assumptions—well, I think that just might place us on some pretty holy ground.
I love Penelope Ward’s quote: “Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.” Fear can often lead us to feel more comfortable saying, “I know enough,” rather than, “Tell me more.” However, when we approach someone with curiosity, “the other” is then freed from our objectifications or assumptions. Imagine the impact if we approach refugees or orphans, those with a different skin color or a different religion, the grumpy neighbor or the one who calls the streets their home, and we ask about who they are, as an individual. Tell me more. . .about your experience, your day, your hopes.
What if everyone was able to feel seen and heard?
What if each person had a chance to escape assumptions or prejudice?
It just may not happen on this side of Heaven. I understand that my whimsical approach may be a bit of an idealization, but I do believe that when we have a posture of curiosity in others, people can tell—and it matters.
My new husband and I decided to continue our pre-marital counseling post-marriage because, well, we’re two messy people and marriage isn’t always easy and we need help. A few weeks ago, during a session with our therapist, I grew particularly sensitive and offended. It was coming out as anger towards basically everyone, but my therapist, in all of her wisdom, paused to ask if something had been said that hurt my feelings.
So simple! So basic! So TRUE. When I stopped to think about where my anger had been triggered, I realized that it was because a wound had been revealed—and it hurt. Instead of anyone in that conversation getting offended or expressing angry back at me, curiosity was activated and it, in turn, diffused the anger. I turned to mush. My husband and therapist were able to hear why I was hurt, and I was able to have that emotional wound tended to. Curiosity saved the session and helped us all to learn more about me.
Curiosity is not always comfortable.
It certainly feels better to have full control and knowledge of everything but, in my experience, curiosity is what paves the way to holy ground, where we can really see another person, each of us in our own uniquely glorious mess.
And that is a really wonderful place to be.
I am Mallory—a wife, a writer, and a wannabe cook. I love dry humor, clean sheets, sunny days, and frequent reminders of grace. These days, I hang out at malloryredmond.com, where I tell my stories with the hope of uncovering places of connection in our humanity. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. It’s Cara again: I mean, if this doesn’t make you want to cozy up with your favorite therapist, I don’t know what does! But really, holy curiosity: it’s a thing, THE thing we’re looking into this year. How did Mallory’s words speak to you?0