“Eve Choices” by Rachel Rueckert

I struggle with decisions. When I say that, I don’t mean “it takes me five minutes to order a sandwich” (though that is true). I mean that decision making, especially when it comes to big life choices, sends me into debilitating, life-disruptive anxiety that is so painful, so acute, and so perplexing to others that I often struggle talking about it with anyone beyond a therapist — particularly when the decision anxiety paralyzes me for months on end. I’m a person haunted by the questions: What’s the best choice? What if I make a mistake? What about regret? 

But as I grow older, I continue to learn and re-learn that there are rarely clear “right” paths, only choices. 

The Latin root of the word “decide” means to “cut off.” Deciding signals a departure of what could be and a commitment to what now is. Loss is inherent to making a choice, a cutting off from what could have been. And yet, there is also a loss in staying fixed and unchanged — the cost of remaining comfortably ignorant in Eden. 

This issue is packed with examples of contributors reckoning with brave decisions. 

Perhaps because I personally struggle with decision-making, I appreciate seeing the process in action. This issue examining “Eve Choices” is packed with examples of contributors (many of them first-time Exponent II contributors), reckoning with brave decisions. From the poetry to the blog excerpts, to Kristen Blair’s theology feature to Susana I. Silva’s artist interview, and from the book review of Elizabeth Pinborough’s The Brain’s Lectionary to Esther Hi’ilani Candari’s art analysis and recommendations concerning the Come, Follow Me manual, I am in total awe of the courage it takes people to make and own life-altering choices. People like LeAnne Bingham Hansen, who elegantly explores in hindsight her decision to stay at home with her children in the essay, “There is No End to Matter.” People like Jill Yancey, who grapples with her husband’s faith journey in “I Lost My Mormon Boy,” and Christina Taber-Kewene, who interrogates the concept of obedience in the essay “Eve’s Choice/My Choice.” I also enjoy seeing ambivalence at play, such as in Catherine Crenshaw’s biting, humorous piece called “Utah Valley Gothic,” and in Stephanie Sorensen’s poignant evaluations of the Eve archetype in “Falling.” 

Making choices no longer seems, at times, as simple as the jaunty “Choose the Right” hymn that assures there is “a right and wrong to every question.” But sometimes insight does come in the form of immediate clarity. We see this in Valerie Hamaker’s “Truth Over Comfort,” where she, as an LDS therapist, recognizes the dissonance that comes when people cannot hold each other’s pain at a vulnerable moment. We see that flash of lightning in Naomi Horne’s “Are We Not All Mothers?” as she boldly reimagines the kind of General Conference talk she would like to hear as a woman without children. We see it again in Bridget Verhaaren’s “Salt,” where she, as a young, recent widow, wrestles with the idea of chastity in the Celestial Room. 

When I think about Eve, I can only imagine the anxiety and agony she faced leading up to the moment of action. But I can also imagine the gratitude and wisdom that came in hindsight — the relief, even amid the newfound hardships. Did she experience the feeling of loss? I imagine so. Keenly. But would she rewrite the human story? Never. Sometimes choices arise from an invisible burning inside of us. Sometimes they come in reaction to pain and others’ choices, or in reaction to injustice and systems of oppression. Anxiety, self-doubt, paralysis, and obstacles are real. And yet, agency remains God’s great gift to us: the right to choose in ways that we are able amid the complex landscapes we inhabit. 

I draw power from Eve, who owned her own authority and wisdom, even when it contradicted the status quo around her. Sometimes that is precisely the confidence required. Eve knew the power of decisions intimately: their costs, their rewards, their messiness. I also draw inspiration from the courageous contributors in this issue, sharing fruits from their trees of knowledge. ⋑ 

(Photo by Damian Siodłak on Unsplash)

Rachel Rueckert is the current editor in chief of the Exponent II Magazine. She is the author of EAST WINDS.

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