A Pebble of Gravel

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I can’t properly express what has been going on the last few months with me. I’ll try.

I never really reached a comfortable state when we were in London. I always felt unsettled. Sure, it got better after we had been there awhile, but my guard was always up. Church was stressful rather than edifying. I never found a good rhythm for myself. I was troubled about my dad’s health.

With another international move, all the upheaval, all the change, huge life transitions, my dad’s death I have really been put through the ringer. My reserves of strength– emotionally, mentally, spiritually– have all been tapped. I am at the bottom of those reserves. I have been very sensitive, vulnerable, fragile. I am not taking the hits well.

Shortly after we moved to London I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. It’s main theme was tapping into the faith that I knew I once had. I was having a hard time feeling the spirit. I wanted to. I was holding firm to the fact that I had had spiritual experiences in the past that I was then relying on when I felt less connected with heaven. This wasn’t a new experience for me. I have had several times in my life that I had to rely on the fiery testimony I had before but didn’t feel at the time. But more than a year was a long time to feel that distance.

Then I lost my dad and I really had to put that faith to the test. It isn’t testing well. Even Christ said to God, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” Even Christ felt alone. But I am not a demi-God. Why am I being left alone? The foundations of my faith in heaven and earth have shaken. Have I been telling myself stories my whole life? Were those good feelings just placebo chemical reactions. Did I just want it all to be true so badly that I made it so for myself? Will I ever see my dad again? Is there really a God? Does he really care about me? Because I am being left alone with this more than I can bear. I am tired of just surviving. And I am not even sure I know what the purpose of me surviving is for anymore.

I wonder whether this fantastic story about Joseph Smith is true. And if it isn’t–oh God!- if it isn’t?! then my family was fragmented growing up for nothing. My dad didn’t get to see his sons and daughter get married, one of the most special moments in his life, for nothing. I went far away during his most trying time for NOTHING. How could he possibly know how much I loved him when I chose so many times a faith, that is abandoning me now, over him?! For all I know, this weeping is for nothing. I have found myself contemplating alternatives that never once entered my logical explanation of how things work. Maybe Dad is gone for good. Maybe this life is all there is. Maybe I am alone. Maybe my ‘blessings’ are the result of natural consequences and a imposed frame of reference. Maybe my life has been a calculated sum of the choices I have made, absent of tender mercies and divine intervention.

People who have said the Gospel helps us so much when we face the death of a loved one or other staggering trials have not experienced these depths like I am. Or maybe they have. Maybe the foundation I had built my testimony on, “the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God” is helping me not fall. I am hoping with some time and patience I’ll be able to see that I had to build foundation on that Rock not because house was going to take a hit but because the foundation was. Maybe that foundation needed to be the Rock so that as it chipped away with each blow there could still be something left–even if it was just a pebble of gravel.

I want so much to believe and be strengthened by the faith that supported me for years. We are praying as a family we are doing amazing at reading scriptures as a family. We are attending our meetings and attending the temple. I was doing better at personal prayer and scriptures before (I could always be better) but now I am afraid. Afraid the next time I really pray alone, I’ll find out once and for all that I am alone. And I can’t be alone in this. I CAN’T. My ward knows (I bore my testimony? last month about my desire to believe and my commitment to live the gospel in the hopes I will feel its truth again). I have received a tremendous amount of support. Chad has given me blessings. I just feel so desperate. I will do anything Heavenly Father wants me to. I am trying to. But I am getting so tired. I am grasping at strings. I feel like I can’t trust myself.

Thanks for giving  me a safe place to pour out my tortured thoughts. I apologize for overwhelming you with all of this. Unfortunately, no one can fix this for me. No one can give me answers that I haven’t actively taught others before while I was a missionary. But if you could keep loving me from afar and think of me when you pray I would be grateful and humbled and honored.

Crypto Foundations

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I presented this material at the Overstock.com Tech Day in September, 2012. It’s fascinating to me how complicated and interesting computer security became over the course of the last century.

  • Crypto Foundations (LibreOffice slideshow with presenter’s notes, also available in PDF)
  • RSA demo (accompanying Python code sample, must be renamed with a “.py” extension)