How curiosity can heal your pride
When my husband and I first got married we read a lot of marriage books. I can't remember which book this phrase came from, but it stuck with us. It was called being "compassionately curious." When you get married, there's lots of little adjustments and misunderstandings that come up when living and doing life with someone who thinks completely differently than you.
This book told us to ask each other questions that were "compassionately curious" instead of making accusations and placing blame. (I'm writing this thinking "oops" because I totally just called my husband earlier today to ask him why on earth he left the back door wide open when he went to work this morning, letting all the cold air in the house. I don't think I sounded very compassionately curious...)
If you're wondering where I'm going with this, let me start with talking about my Instagram DMs.
Often, they're a space for connection. I have so many friends on Instagram that I cherish and feel like I know in real life. But sometimes, a few differences in opinions slip in there.
I posted about bethel music and someone told me that they're heretical and I shouldn't share about them. I posted about a book I read and someone told me the quote was bad and that the beliefs of the author of the book were completely off. I posted about a book I contributed to, celebrating that win, and someone told me that I needed to research the basis of the book because it wasn't biblical.
These conversations always catch me by surprise, because the tone is often, "I'm right, you're wrong, and once you see from my point of view you'll understand."
Compassionate curiosity would ask the question, "Can you help me understand your view?" Instead of saying, "listen, until you understand mine."
One of my favorite college professors and Bible teachers probably didn't hold a lot of the same views as me. If we both took the same survey on the Bible I think most of our answers would have been on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. But, he was my favorite professor to learn from, and often where my wildest questions were directed.
I went to his office one day to ask one of my controversial questions. He just smiled and told me what he usually did,
"I think one third of my theology is wrong, I just don't know which third."
The humility in his response inspired me, and I have kept that phrase in my attitude towards my understanding of the Bible.
I try to run from controversial topics online, I think, because most often I hold my opinions really loosely.
Today, I want to confess to you that sometimes I feel wrong for that. There are so many Christian influencers making cute reels and videos about how they are certain that their way is the only way. I guess, I feel guilty because I can't get on board with that. It makes me wonder if I'm less certain of God if I am willing to be compassionately curious.
In the "I know the truth and you don't" posts and messages on social media, I see people who are trying to be God.
I think people who see in black and white often get under my skin because as much as I wish I could tell you otherwise, I think God leaves space for a lot of grey areas. There are so many areas where I can see many views, they all seem valid, and my understanding of God is always changing. (I really hope I don't know everything there is to know about God at twenty-six years old.)
Throughout the New Testament the disciples were continually corrected by Jesus for things they assumed but didn't really understand. In Matthew 22:29 Jesus says, "You’re off base on two counts: You don’t know what God said, and you don’t know how God works." Ouch.
They got it wrong a lot, I think we get it wrong a lot too. God is always willing to correct and guide us into deeper truth, but it starts with surrendering our need to know it all.
I want to allow other people to be curious and ask questions and change their mind too.
A better response (in my opinion...) is actually being compassionately curious and recognizing that we aren't meant to know it all and we don't. Only God knows.
In marriage, there is a depth of relationship and a mutual understanding that even if you would both approach something in completely different ways, you are on the same mission. You're still a team.
The same is true for us as believers. With issues outside of salvation issues, we might approach things totally differently. My beliefs and yours could be completely opposite, but we are still on the same mission. We're still a team.
I think, we would make a much bigger impact online and in our communities as believers if we started to show the world what compassionate curiosity can look like.
In researching for this blog, I found a similar article called "Why Compassionate Curiosity is Vital for Discipleship." This author, Matt Tebbe suggests we learn to be wrong, his example was so good I wanted to share it here:
"This has been a fundamental shift that has enabled me to be curious: I’ve learned to be OK with being wrong.
In fact, I’ve learned to embrace that
I’m wrong in ways I’m completely unaware of,
Being wrong isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me today, and
I will never discover how wrong I am unless I’m genuinely curious about things I’m ignorant about or biased against.
Repentance has become a friend since I’ve changed my relationship to my need to be right."
Today, I want to suggest that at least one third of our theology is wrong, and none of us know which third. With curiosity, we can ask better questions and put down our opinions and biases to learn how to truly listen and hear one another.
In the process, I think we'll find more humility instead of the pride that has snuck into many of our conversations.
And my greatest hope above all, is that we will learn to trust and rely on God in the uncertainty and recognize that maybe, just maybe, it's actually healthy to turn away pride and humbly say, maybe I don't know all the answers, and maybe that's ok.
I echo the cautious tone of Proverbs 3:6 (MSG), "Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all."
Maybe not knowing it all will invite us into greater compassion for the people around us and a deeper relationship and reliance on a God who is all-knowing.