Earlier in the year we introduced you all to The Influence Commons. As a Network we want to give our members a chance to use their voice. We put out a call for pitches and today we are sharing the first piece written by one of our very own. We hope to share a new piece each week, so if you’re thinking about sending a pitch, don’t hesitate! Don’t forget that we plan on hosting a writer’s retreat and workshop in 2018. We’ll offer 3 scholarship positions chosen from the submissions on The Influence Commons. Enjoy our second submission from Abby Perry below.
It’s not often that I write “Bravo!!!” (complete with, yes, three exclamation points) at the end of a book’s introduction. The Curious Christian: How Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life by Barnabas Piper, however, led me to do exactly that. As unusual as that early display of endorsement was, though, it wasn’t the introduction to the book that hooked me. Even earlier than that, in the dedication section, Piper convinced me that this book was a treasure.
“For my mother,” he writes. “I remember lying on top of the luggage in the back of our Chevy Caprice ‘Woody’ Station Wagon on the endless drive from Minnesota to Georgia and listening to you read adventure stories for me to hear all the way in the back and reading so well I forgot how bored I was.’”
Piper goes on to list memory after memory of how his mother sparked curiosity in him, how she taught him, how she modeled a love of learning for him, how she shaped and inspired him. Trips to the library, hours spent on sidelines of the football field, the kitchen radio tuned to Fresh Air by NPR or Prairie Home Companion, Piper’s mother showed him a zest for life. “I wrote the words,” he writes. “But the ideas are yours.”
Perhaps because I am a mother to two young sons, Piper’s dedication to his mother drew me in and convinced me that this book would not only teach me something, but would challenge me to live, love, and parent in such a way that others, even generations beyond me, would be blessed with the gem of curiosity. As a mother, it is so easy to parent out of fear, to shut down my childrens’ curious impulses for the sake of projecting the illusion of safety, or to retreat into my own laziness rather than indulging questions. It was easy to do this before I was a mother, too, though perhaps I see it more clearly now that I have two children reflecting my tendencies back at me. I spent years wanting to make myself feel safe inside a cocoon of knowledge and certainty, trying to silence any curiosity that may challenge its structure.
While Piper’s book does not revolve around his relationship with his mother, his introduction makes clear that this book is an ode to her, to the way she formed his mind and heart to wonder after that which God and man have made. The chapters that follow are nothing if not confirmation that while this book is not directly correlated to parenting, curiosity is a trait that is key for instilling in the children around us, whether those we parent, those we teach, or those we love as we sit in friend’s living rooms and hold their toddlers on our laps. It is also a combination of treatise and letter from a friend, encouraging the reader to see what the writer sees, and to embrace the world presented.
Curiosity, Piper argues is a fundamental trait of the Christian existence. It is “a lifestyle all its own–a holistic, comprehensive interaction with the world around us and all it holds.” Piper challenges the notion that to become grown and mature is to put curiosity on the shelf and merely do what is required. Rather, he argues for an embodied childlikeness (not to be confused with childishness), a wonder toward the world and toward people that fosters imagination, education, and the good of others.
While Piper’s book is written for men and women, the dedication to his mother and perhaps just my reality as a woman reader led me to ponder some uniquely female implications. Whether workers, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, volunteers, friends, or any combination thereof, women have the opportunity to offer perspectives and ask questions that their male counterparts cannot. This is not a result of any flaw in men or in women, rather, as curiosity courses through our differently-wired minds, we are able to offer ideas and perspectives to one another that can expand our worldviews, deepen our love for Christ and His Church, and further our pursuit of the Kingdom. As sisters in the family of God, we become of greater service when we reject assumptions made in fear and instead embrace curiosity founded in love.
Women of influence only stand to cling to Scripture more closely, love Jesus more dearly, and serve their communities more wholeheartedly by engaging the world with wonder. When we decide to be women who stand firmly on the foundation of what we know to be true and peer through the windows of what we have not yet discovered, we become all the more prepared to be a gift to the world. I am confident you will find The Curious Christian to be a trustworthy companion on the journey.
Abby Perry has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, and Upwrite Magazine. She is a co-host of the Shalom in the City podcast with Osheta Moore and coordinates communications for a non-profit organization. Abby co-facilitates community efforts in racial reconciliation and in support of foster and adoptive families. She currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary and lives with her husband and their two sons in Texas. Find Abby at www.joywovendeep.com and on Twitter.