One of my dearest friends says, “There are two types of people in this world; Those who walk into a room and say, “Here I am!” and the others are those who walk into a room and say, “There you are.” While this is a very simple distinction and there are certainly far more personalities and dispositions represented in the human race, there is a fundamental and core motivation that is communicated in this not-so-subtle difference.
My name is Kolby Nance and I am a registered mental health intern (Christian Counselor) with the Center for Marriage and Family Enrichment. I hope to write a series of blog posts that will provide insight into everyday relationships. My hope is that by reading my posts, you will be better equipped to love well in everyday life.
Truth be told, we have recognized those two subtle but starkly different people and we ourselves tend to fall in one direction or another. I have spent my life being a, “Here I am!” type of person but I increasingly want to be a, “there you are” person. How does one make that transition? There are many things to consider but I want to consider just one, curiosity. One of the largest missed qualities in conversations today is curiosity. We have several interactions where there are reports, arguments, posts, debates, investigations, judgements, and fears that are shared in conversation. It is rare to talk to someone who is actually curious regarding what is going on in your life or what is going on in your heart.
So why make such a big deal about curiosity. I am convinced that the goal of relationships is connection. Connection between two hearts in relationship is giving the most glory to how God has designed us. He has made us relational beings with the capacity to know one another and to be known. In our knowing and being known we are united, and in its purest form that connection is the selfless and sacrificial love for the benefit of another. Relating like that reflects God, gives a deep sense of belonging, and is one of the deepest longings in every human heart. Ok, so why curiosity?
Curiosity in conversations will cultivate connection. Curiosity will lead you into knowing another and being known. We have lost touch on how to curiously converse with one another. When talking with others, we mostly make assumptions. Without asking questions we suggest what others may feel, make their story about ourselves by relating it to something in going on in our own lives (that we believe is more important or relevant), or we just stop asking questions altogether. However, being curious and asking questions allows the other person to disclose the details at a deeper motivational level. Asking questions gives them the ability to disclose how their hearts were impacted within the story they are telling. Questions such as, What was that like for you? What were you hoping for? Where else in life do you find this same thing happening? What did you do next?… are curious and give birth to being known more fully. By being curious, you are allowing that person to be known and loved.
I don’t want you to be deceived, being curious isn’t easy nor efficient. We give and receive information in a very factual, report like form of communication. Most of our conversations are not an end in themselves but rather serve a functional purpose. In this vein, communication is typically an exchange of words for purpose of action. However, curiosity turns communication into story-telling. In a story-telling conversation filled with curiosity, the conversation or connection between two people is the end in itself, the main course, and serves no other purpose than connecting. By asking questions rather than giving answers we are able to hear a story that draws us out of our own small worlds. In the world of other-focused love we begin to taste an other-worldly reality. I imagine the Kingdom of Heaven being filled with celebration and an ever-abiding sense of wonder. That sense of wonder is what curiosity embodies here and now on earth.