Many of you might remember my blogpost from two years ago, “What Has to Be Done.” That post, and the talk I gave alongside famous blogger Heather Armstrong (of dooce.com) brought over 30,000 new readers to my blog. What a hard time that was. As I suffered through the pain of my surgery and the side-effects of the intensive antibiotic therapy, I wondered whether my plans to finish my PhD were evaporating. I questioned whether my mobility might be forever impacted by the surgery and the persistence of the infection. I marveled at the support of my family and my community even as I worried about John’s ability to hold together our lives while my health was so fragile.
About a year ago, I faced another moment of “what had to be done” when local LDS leaders chose to summon my spouse to an ecclesiastical court. I attended that event to testify on his behalf, and also to observe the events closely. It was a time when my own relationship with the church was tenuous, and seeing how this event proceeded was a significant step in my realization that I could no longer be an active adherent of the Mormon faith. Lately many of those feelings have been bubbling up again–I drive past the temple and the local LDS meetinghouse almost daily, which serves as a constant reminder of the church’s impact on my life. Even now I remain cosmically disappointed in the Mormon church and its leaders (on all levels–local, regional, and global), despite supporting my friends who are members. I feel a rather irrational amount of anger at the group of men who conducted John’s church court proceedings, especially because they were people in whom I’d once placed a great deal of trust. Distancing myself from the church wasn’t because I was “offended” by these leaders, it was that I could no longer put my faith in an institution where leaders could wield so much power (such as the power to sever my sealing to my spouse) so irresponsibly. Choosing to walk away from my LDS community was hugely difficult for me, given all that I had invested in the church through the years.
On July 25th this year (in sharp contrast to July 25th two years ago when I was being re-admitted to the hospital for my leg infection), I was in Fairfax, Virginia meeting with a group of twelve digital humanists to embark on a radical tool-building experiment. My colleague Effie, described our process on her blog today as “doing what needs to be done” (see the last paragraph). I loved that she said that, because I hadn’t thought of our fast-paced development process in that way until now. That phrase helped me to see the connective threads in my life from a point two years ago when I was purely in ‘survival’ mode, to the point that I’m at now with an abundance of opportunities ahead. I feel as though the lessons I’ve learned since then continue to serve me in my scholarly and creative work, as well as in my spiritual life. For now, “what needs to be done” is to focus on my dissertation while juggling an exciting array of side projects and the needs of my family (as well as squeezing in plenty of time out paddling on the ocean and time for quiet contemplation–sometimes simultaneously). I feel so fortunate to have the health and confidence to move forward with my dreams. These past two years have taught me much.