You start with a desire for your family to be headed in a good direction. Well that’s easy, we all want that!
Then you do a tough internal thing: you accept your family unconditionally, and accept your role to influence them on purpose. Hmm, even without them accepting the same thing? Well, OK, but yes that is tough.
What’s next? Something you can do a little bit of every single day.
Let’s say you and I are talking. I look you in the eye and sincerely ask a few insightful questions about something you did, why you did it, how it made you feel, and what you wanted to see happen. I listen and ask a question and listen some more. You do most of the talking.
You can tell if my questions and curiosity are driven by duty, or by my own self-interest, or to catch you at something, or to gather gossip. You can tell if I’m trying to get credit for seeming interested.
And you can tell if I’m curious because I really am interested in you, and because I think my curiosity is going to be satisfied by discovering something worthy from you. When someone does this with me I feel honored. I feel they care. I feel I must be valuable. And I remember who it was that made me feel that way.
Be curious and sincerely care, listen without pushing or having an agenda, do it consistently in the little moments, and your family will feel honored and valuable, too. They’ll feel loved. And they’ll remember who made them feel that way.
Curiosity + attention = love
When you feel honored, valuable, and loved, what happens? You calm down. Your self-protective exterior gets soft. You lose the urgency to win and prove yourself and be right. You feel a bit generous and unselfish.
How does a calm, soft, generous, unselfish family sound to you? Genuine curiosity and attentiveness move you in that direction, moment by moment.
No, most of the time you don’t sit down with family members and give each other your undivided attention in a conversation. It’s a good idea and sometimes you do it, but family life is usually as-you-go. Many little moments add up.
What does your attention and curiosity lead you to discover? What do you see when your curiosity is satisfied?
You see inside a soul. You learn who they are and how they feel and why they do and think what they do. You hear their heartbeat.
Curiosity + attention = vision
The vision is NOT your vision for that person. It’s a vision that’s already present apart from you. You can’t see the whole thing, but you get hints from the heartbeat that you hear in the soul. You get a clue that something is going on, and if you stay curious and attentive you begin to gather dots to connect.
This is a privileged place. God is up to something in this person that he created, and you’re getting a little peak at what he’s up to. When this person is a family member and you love them, an awesome honor presents itself: the honor of cooperating with God in what he’s doing in someone you love.
The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out – Proverbs 20.5
Here’s where the ground can get loose. You don’t know everything that’s going on, and you can easily mix in your own ideas and desires with what you think you see. This cooperation needs to be done with humility, since we all hardly know what God is up to even in our own selves.
A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way? – Proverbs 20.24
We all need help understanding our way. Wouldn’t you love to have someone who cared enough to commit to cooperating with what God is doing in you? Your family would love to have the same thing – and they do: you.
Now if only we knew how to do that cooperating. We’ll talk about that next Monday.
When was the last time you felt loved by someone giving you attention and sincere curiosity?