“If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story.” – Donald Miller
I sit down to write, and my fingers reflexively type the sentence: “I have been an explorer all of my days.” I’m surprised by the appearance of these words, for I don’t think of myself as an explorer. Spontaneous, adventurous, daring, resourceful…qualities I associate with explorers are not qualities I naturally possess. I’ve cultivated them over the years with the help of my adventure-loving husband and sons, but the words here on my laptop screen are naming something different, something inherent. I feel torn between deleting the words and considering them; I choose to be curious.
“I have been an explorer all of my days.”
My days began in a hospital delivery room in Memphis when I was born to a young woman who had already made the decision to place me for adoption. Therefore, I’ve never heard stories of my birth, the time leading up to it, or the days immediately following it; only my implicit memory—my unconscious, nonverbal memory—holds these details. However, when I recently heard psychiatrist Curt Thompson say, “We all are born into the world looking for someone looking for us,” I received his words with a felt sense of knowing, an embodied recognition of truth, and a tender awareness of a newborn baby girl looking for someone looking for her.
An explorer, full of wonder and hope.
With wide, watchful eyes, I looked around me for signs of delight. Did the faces of my parents light up when they saw me? My grandparents? My teachers and friends? With an expectant heart, I made bids for attention and affection, noticing those who turned toward me and those who turned away. With a longing soul, I sought connection with others, and in those moments when I found none, I discovered that I was not alone, becoming aware of God’s comforting presence and my own capacity to comfort myself.
As I consider this young girl—me—in my crib, in my home, in the classroom, on the playground, in church, in the mirror, I see how I was building my survival kit for the journey ahead. Honing my ability as an observer; learning to navigate unfamiliar terrain; cultivating connection with my own intuition; and developing resilience in moments of discomfort or disappointment—these skills would serve me well as I stepped out, fueled by desire and finding my way.
Like all explorers, I traveled through the unknown and found orientation through engagement with place and interaction with people. Curiosity, creativity, and play led to discovery, and meaningful work and loving relationships fostered understanding and my sense of belonging. Along the way, I maintained my awareness of God’s presence, explored life in the Spirit, and cultivated a life anchored in faith, hope, and love. At times I was unaware of where my steps were leading; at times I had a destination in mind and tried to remain faithful to the course before me. All the while, I was becoming more fully and freely myself.
Of course, like any long journey, it’s often only in looking back that we can see clearly. For me, that reflection began during conversations with my husband and trusted friends. Then, I started to engage the narratives of my life through writing. I continued to explore my story through purposeful interaction with others—fellow story sojourners who bore witness to me, both past and present. As they attuned to me and my story, I began to attune to myself. As I received their care, I learned how to offer care to myself. And as I embraced their words of blessing, I started to speak words of blessing to myself.
Looking back, I saw…
A baby looking for someone looking for her; a girl searching for her place in the wide world; a wife learning to bear the weight of someone’s loving gaze; a mother honing her instincts with her beloved children; a homemaker choosing presence over perfection; a caregiver recognizing when her resources are depleted; a playmate taking the risk to be silly and have fun; an adventurer navigating beyond limiting fears; a woman engaging her story for the sake of healing—her own and others; a dreamer holding a vision of what tomorrow could hold; a pilgrim seeking to faithfully follow the Spirit’s lead; an explorer facing the journey to come with a hopeful heart.
I have been an explorer all of my days, both finding my way and finding myself.
Susan Tucker is a lifelong lover of story, and with curiosity and openness, she often explores in her writing the tension that life holds. A former English teacher, Susan loves meaningful use of language, especially when used to stir the soul and whet one’s appetite for more truth, goodness, and beauty. Compelled by a burgeoning interest in trauma recovery, she pursued training at The Allender Center, completing the Certificate in Narrative Focused Trauma Care, Level I and Level 2. Susan and Tim, her husband of 27 years, are the parents of two sons, now young adults, and adjusting to their newly empty nest.nbsp