holy curiosity: what if? (abby norman)

Guest post Tuesday! You may remember today’s writer from how she celebrated the ordinary everyday with champagne bubbles in Mason jars last year. And the beauty continues today. Meet Abby Norman: she’s a high school English teacher, a writer, a mama and a friend to many. Read and enjoy her words – I know you will! 


We’re in a state of flux at our house. Like serious flux. After 9 years of teaching English in a public school setting, I filed separation papers with my school district and rejected my tenth contract. I am not going to be a teacher any more.

Meanwhile my husband is spending evenings and weekends finishing up his degree. By the end of the summer we will be Dr. and Mrs. Norman. And that is about all we know.

What will I be doing next year? Will we be moving? Where will we go to church and where will my kids go to school? We have answers for none of these questions. I find myself asking what if a lot.

Every time my husband submits an application I head to Zillow and type in the city. What if we moved there? What is the housing like? How big is the town? I Google the churches and check and see what the birth date cut-off is for Kindergarten. I check to see if the state offers free pre-k. What if we moved here. What would that look like?

If Christian gets an interview, I indulge all curiosity, every what if. I pick out my favorite houses and check the menus of the local restaurants. I see how far away it is from the grandparents. I imagine what we would take with us and what we would leave behind.

But there is a darker, scarier side to the what if game. What if no one gets a job? What if we don’t have an income? What if I have to go back to a job I don’t want to go back to? What if we don’t have health insurance? What if we can’t pay the mortgage? What if….what if…what if…

A long time ago I heard somewhere that if you are going to start the what if game, you best finish it. If no one in my family has a job by July, we are moving in with a family member and working it out for a year. I am not really thrilled with that idea, but the curiosity is satisfied and I can live with that choice.

I have heard a lot of really important people playing the what if game with the state of the American church. What if the numbers continue to decline? What if the millennials never get in line and get to the pews? What if the church dies? What then? What if…..

But I don’t think terrified curiosity is holy curiosity, in my life or in the life of the church. I think holy curiosity invites an expectancy. It trusts that God is doing something good, and wonders what that might be.

What if the church looks radically different? What would that look like? What else is God up to?

What if we could come together and imagine all the different ways this could play out, ways that God could be working just like I imagine all the different places we could be living.

What if we dreamed about the future of the church with a holy curiosity, an expectancy that God is working toward something good?

There would be an anticipation instead of an anxiety in both my own life and the blog posts that are written about the state of the church.

Holy curiosity breeds hope. It employs the  what if game to the end, and trusts that the end is in good hands.


Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta.  She swears a lot more than you would think for a public school teacher and mother of two under three. She can’t help that she loves all words.  She believes in champagne for celebrating everyday life, laughing until her stomach hurts and telling the truth, even when it is hard, maybe especially then. You can find her blogging at accidentaldevotional and tweeting at @accidentaldevo.  Abby loves all kinds of Girl Scout cookies and literally burning lies in her backyard fire pit. It’s Cara again: “Holy curiosity breeds hope.” This might be one of my favorite sentences I’ve read in this series. How did Abby’s words touch you? What can you say to encourage her in this time of unknowing, this time of holy curiosity today? 

3 thoughts on “holy curiosity: what if? (abby norman)

  1. I totally agree. It is a holy curiosity to wonder what God is up to in our lives, trusting him to be with us throughout. Sounds like your “what ifs” are quite holy, Abby.

  2. Holy curiosity invites expectancy. Man, I needed that! I’m similar – at the first hint of a new adventure, I research and invest. And am often disappointed… Because, well, life isn’t about every single adventure materializing. But, to live in expectancy? Yes! I think that’s what longing for the restoration of Heaven is like. Thanks so much for these profound words!

  3. Hi, Abby. We’re in the same boat. My husband graduates next month (!!), my writing isn’t paying yet, and we have no idea where we’ll be this time next year! I used to research every city, but it got so exhausting–all that up-and-down excitement. I found myself planning a different move every week. I decided to stop being curious about the cities, schools, and churches and just focus my curiosity on what God is doing in and through us, on “all the different ways that God could be working.” Might not work for you, but it’s more restful for me.

    Hey, maybe we’ll end up in the same city! If you see me in the first-time visitors que at some random church this fall, say ‘hi.’

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