Obliging the Curiosity Within

These days, I have more questions than answers.

When I write my teammates that I have left behind, my messages are full of questions.  I’m so curious to know how they are doing, how the school is running, and how the students are. I have no way of knowing without them.

My friends smile. I can read in between the lines of text that they are obliging my curiosity by answering my questions. They are happy to give me the news I’m asking for. But sometimes, I notice a hesitation. I know they are not telling me everything, as if they want to spare me. I understand, but continue to ply them with questions.

When I talk to new people I meet here, they are full of questions: Where did you move from? How do you like it here so far? What do you do? Do you have children?

I smile and hesitate, too. How much does the other person really want to know? Do I give them a full answer, one that involves going back nine years to when we first moved overseas? Or do I tell them where I came from most recently? Will they understand that I don’t know what I’m doing, yet? That my world is completely turned on its head and I’m still trying to figure out which way is up?

Instead, I talk about the children. They’re cute! Let’s stick to them.

Curiosity is the desire to know more, and we are all born with it. As I consider it in my transition journey, I want to harness it as a tool. I want to make my curiosity work in my favor.

Today, as I drove home from dropping my daughters off at school, I forced my phone’s navigation system to re-route. I made a wrong turn on purpose, just to see where it would take me. I was curious, and wound up learning a new way home on country roads—slower, but more beautiful.

Will I allow myself to be distracted by my curiosity, to let it take me down roads with people and places that I might not otherwise have explored? At church, when I see the person that is clearly from Africa, do I take the time to ask where they are from and share my story of living in Africa? At the store, when I see a woman wearing a headscarf, do I stop and greet her in Arabic and ask where she’s from? In my neighborhood, do I go over to a group of parents and introduce myself, asking about their children and how long they’ve lived here?

There are no guarantees that I’ll settle in sooner or get to know people better any faster simply because of curiosity. But what will happen if I keep all my questions to myself?

My world will stay small. I will miss out on that winding journey through a new season with unexpected twists and turns.

I may have to live my old life vicariously through the people that are still there, feeding on the little crumbs they give me, but I can choose to live out my curiosity in the here and now with zeal. I choose to take huge bites out of every opportunity I have in front of me, learning more, and obliging the curiosity within.

How have you harnessed your curiosity as a tool before? In what ways has it been helpful to you in times of transition? When has it taken you to unexpected places?

6 Comments

  1. Cecily September 14, 2017

    I am a little bit like you, Hadassah, when people ask me questions I don’t know how to answer. And I can hardly use the excuse that I am new here. And it doesn’t matter if the question is asked here, on the field, or in my home country. What’s the curious question? “So, what do you do? What did you do today? What does your typical day look like?” I don’t like these questions because the feel like judgment waiting to happen. I feel like I have to justify myself with my answer. My life is “different”, okay? I am a pioneer. I am, 10 years down the road, still trying to figure it out. And what is a typical day, anyway? I don’t have those!
    Certainly I live a curious life, but I feel too tired or too ashamed or too afraid to engage your curiosity by answering you questions because then you might label me, judge me, condemn me, criticize me, …
    Clearly I have some work to do in finding my identity in Christ rather than in what people think or say!

    PS Where is you bio? I wanted to learn a little bit more about you, but I can’t see the bio here. (Yay! That shows that I am at least a little bit curious!)

    1. Hadassah Doss September 15, 2017

      I can understand your hesitation, Cecily. I never was a pioneer (even though in our last host country it felt like we were having to reinvent the wheel all the time), but I had contact with many. If I’m honest, I understand your hesitation, because I’ve been the one asking the question… and maybe judging a bit as well. Thank you for being honest about how that makes you feel. And I suggest, if I can be so bold, that rather than shying away from it, answer them sincerely, explaining why it makes you uncomfortable and sharing how your work isn’t as linear as you would hope. There aren’t always ducks to line up and knock over, for example. And although you or others may not see the fruit of your labor, it won’t stay hidden forever. God knows and can’t wait to share with you in heaven how your groundwork blessed His purpose. Continue to hope in Him, and work on those of us who ask only because we too need to trust more.

      (If you click on my picture, you can read a short bio. I can tell you I am a teacher and worked at boarding academies my entire time overseas. I’m also a mother of two and we returned to the US so that my husband can pursue further education. It’s nice “meeting” you!)

      1. Cecily September 15, 2017

        Nice meeting you, too, Hadassah! (Love the name. Is it Esther, also?)
        In learning to boldly, honestly answer the questions I don’t like, it is a matter of being comfortable in my own situation. I feel like such a failure because nothing is linear. No ducks. No rows. But I scatter seed hither and yon. May the Lord of the Harvest bring forth fruit somewhere and I will keep seeking to follow hard after Him.
        Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Rosemary September 14, 2017

    Thanks for sharing Hadassah! You did a great job capturing the double pull of transitions and the challenge of investing in the new reality!

    1. Hadassah Doss September 15, 2017

      Thank you, Rosemary! It’s worth the investment, but not always easy to make happen. I think we all wish we could click our heels and skip ahead to when things are settled. I know I do! Instead, we have to lean into the discomfort. Praying you will find joy in doing that today (and aren’t pulled apart in the meantime)!

  3. Elizabeth September 17, 2017

    I’m grateful for your commitment to let your curiosity lead, and not be content with a small world. It can be easy when transition smarts to draw back and stay in a less curious, safer but smaller world. I’m glad you are making wrong turns and asking questions (and answering mine!).

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