Not only are we entering a new year, but 2020 marks the beginning of a new decade. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the last ten years of my life and all that’s transpired—both good and bad. I urge everyone to do the same because it’s a profound exercise to look back across such a lengthy span of time and see how far you’ve come, what you’ve experienced, and how you’ve grown. As I mentioned on social media this week, the start of a new decade is full of unknowns because we have limited vision; only God can see what lies ahead. But as we hope forward, 2020 is a great reminder to look back and use the gift of 20/20 vision to learn from what’s already happened.
Every January 1st I pick a word of the year as a focal point for personal growth. After prayerful discernment, the word God placed on my heart for 2020 (and really a word I plan on carrying through the next decade) is curiosity. This word first jumped out at me while listening to an interview with Dr. Edith Eger, a saintly 91-year-old woman, and author of the bestselling book, The Choice: Embrace the Possible. Edith is a Holocaust survivor who just wrote her memoir last year at the ripe young age of 90.
One of the things that Edith said helped her endure brutal torture and horrendous living conditions was maintaining a spirit of curiosity. Each day of her captivity she wondered what was going to happen next. Would she live or die, eat or go hungry, remain a prisoner or find freedom? Edith believes curiosity is what really saved her because it kept her mind active and open and seeking. What a remarkable way to push through unspeakable trauma.
Edith earned her Ph.D. in Psychology when she was in her 50s and has spent the last 40 years helping other people deal with trauma. I cannot say enough about Edith and her book. What she endured and witnessed in Auschwitz is next level grueling and the stories of how she’s helped others is next level profound. Both leave you gasping for air in trying to understand the depth of human suffering and the capacity to overcome.
Instead of feeling worried, burdened with uncertainty, and fearful about what may or may not happen, Edith chose to be curious about what God was going to do. She was curious about how something would work out in the end even if it felt horrible and pointless and damaging in the present moment.
I could not shake this word from my heart space which is why I chose it for my word of the year. Curiosity may indeed kill the cat, but I think it’s a life-saving mentality for us as humans because it beckons us to run headlong into “what is” with intrigue and expectancy rather than anchoring ourselves in despair, fear, or worry.
Curiosity is inquisitive, asking things like, What is around the corner? What is God up to? How will God work through this? What am I not seeing right in front of me? What will become clear and true?
Kids are sopping wet with curiosity. Everything around them excites and compels them to reach toward understanding, enjoyment, and engagement. They want to know how gadgets work, where sounds originate, and why things are the way they are. They love to create and explore the world around them. Perhaps the root of their curiosity is trust. Children don’t analyze, ruminate, or worry about the what-ifs. Instead, they leap without looking right into the wonder of things. Mostly because their frontal lobes aren’t fully developed. If only we could have underdeveloped brains as adults! Then maybe it would be easier to live carefree and unburdened.
Another way curiosity can be life-saving is in how it affects our relationships–especially those closest to our heart. Being curious about how and why another person thinks and feels a certain way about things creates space for understanding, which is ultimately how we love one another the best. Being curious serves to remove our experiential filters and opens us up to new possibilities, greater understanding, and the potential to find common ground. Kids are great at this too, mostly because they haven’t learned how to use the label machine yet and quite frankly, they accept everyone for who they are, as is.
This is why I’m filled with excitement to jump on the curiosity bandwagon and embrace life like a child. I want giddy energy, or at least trusting energy, to pulse through my veins no matter what I’m dealing with. I’ve committed to having a spirit of curiosity about the present moment and the future, fully aware of what’s around me, and excited for what’s yet to come. What a world of possibility awaits.
I want to give a shout out to my 2019 word of the year: pause. Let’s just say I’ve had the opportunity to practice the pause in profound ways. As a means of processing unexpected events, reflecting on profound blessings, and becoming better at keeping my mouth shut and letting things just be to name a few. When we pick a word, it tends to take on a life of its own and manifest into the intricacies of our everyday living. Heck, I even got a tattoo in June that says ‘embrace stillness’ which was in response to a deeply personal struggle that came out of nowhere. Ironically, those two words are another way to pause and I’m just now seeing the connection.
I guess it makes sense our chosen word infiltrates our life because it’s probably something God really wants us to work on. To which I often sigh with a heavy ugh. Why does God have to be so on point?
What is your word of the year? Maybe you’ll consider curiosity as well.
Bring it on, 2020. Let’s do this!
Enjoy this free collection of short reflections on the Beatitudes as they relate to motherhood. Download the ebook here