I had two great conversations today about curiosity.
The first conversation was with a friend who loves, loves, loves getting to know people. He asks great questions, listens well, and shares his own experience in healthy ways. He's curious about what other people believe. His curiosity creates space for friendship.
The second conversation was with a student who had tons of questions about her faith. She believes in Jesus, but wants to hear, know, and understand more. We talked about faith and science, dinosaurs in the Bible, imaginative readings of the Bible, leveraging experience for the sake of faith, and the need to ask good questions. Her curiosity creates space for deep conversation.
All to often people squash curiosity in the name of "protecting the faith." They withhold their curiosity in an attempt to maintain polite relational distance. This is a mistake.
Curiosity is like a muscle. The more we exercise it, the more it grows. And it's a gift from God. St. Anselm called it "fides quaerens intellectum" or "faith seeking understanding." All personal relationships require us to have faith that somewhere in the other person there's someone interesting to connect with, something interesting to learn, and someone worth loving. This is true in our friendships with other people and in our relationship with God.
My biggest challenge in this arena, personally, is to accept that I'm a worthy subject of curiosity. I can go days and day without anyone asking me a personal question. I'm so curious about other people that I don't give them a chance to be curious about me. And now I find myself feeling uncomfortable if someone asks too many questions about me. I've had so many negative experiences of people plying me with questions and then leveraging my answers to take advantage of me. It takes tremendous work to open up and I'm grateful to be blessed with friends who are caring enough, persistent enough, curious enough to keep asking questions.