Anne Bednar: What the Old Testament Taught a Young Mom With Cancer in 2022
They are stories that took place thousands of years ago—stories that, at times, feel so removed from our present day that we feel we just can’t relate. But as she studied the Old Testament in 2022, the same year her world got rocked by a cancer diagnosis, Anne Bednar found that those stories came alive. And the people in them? They weren’t all that different from her. On this week’s episode, Anne helps us see just how applicable the scriptures can be to our unique life circumstances if we take the time to study their pages.
If we believe what we believe, death is not the end, and that's not what I should be fearing. In reality, the end ultimately is what we become in the process or the journey…
President Henry B. Eyring
“I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is that they seem to make clocks slow down and then appear almost to stop.
“There are reasons for that. Knowing those reasons may not give much comfort, but it can give you a feeling of patience. Those reasons come from this one fact: in Their perfect love for you, Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with Them to live in families forever. Only those washed perfectly clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be there.”
The insight Anne gained that Saul thought of himself as merely a donkey keeper comes from David Butler's thoughts on page 100 of Don't Miss This in the Old Testament.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell
“One of the reasons we love each other in the kingdom is that our friendships are not friendships of initiation at all but are, instead, friendships of resumption!” (https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/neal-a-maxwell/brim-joy/)
“The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well.” (Neal A. Maxwell, That My Family Should Partake (1974), 86)
"Looking deeper, we could say that the real cause of suffering is not being able to tolerate uncertainty--and thinking that it's perfectly sane, perfectly normal, to deny the fundamental groundlessness of being human.” (https://www.amazon.com/Living-Beautifully-Uncertainty-Pema-Chodron/dp/1611800765)
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
2:15- Opposition in All Things
6:54- Strengthening Marriage Amidst Challenges
9:48- Facing a Cancer Diagnosis as a Young Mother
15:30- Living in the Present and Maintaining Perspective
20:28- The Value of Good Friends
23:38- “God Meant It Unto Good”
29:09- “They That Be With Us”
32:05- Moses and a Radiology Scan
36:33- Laws, Structure, and Religious Rituals
38:47- Watch and Wait Period of Life
50:02- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00
Last year a friend sent me a message on Instagram. She told me that someone she knew, Anne Bednar, had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was sharing what she learned from her experiences on social media. I had been at a conference once previously with Anne and thought she seemed like a neat person. So I decided to check it out. Anne's Instagram was private, so I sent a follow request and she was gracious enough to accept. Soon I was seeing the world through the eyes of a young mom of seven kids battling cancer. A young mom who already has a son with a rare genetic disease called PCD that causes chronic recurrent infections in the lungs, ears and sinuses. A young mom with two twins that at the time of her diagnosis are just a year old. I became captivated by Anne's posts and her ability to apply what she was learning in the Old Testament to herself. I thought that before we turn our attention entirely to the New Testament year of Come, Follow Me, it might be good to look back on the lessons learned from the Old Testament. It is my hope that as you listen to Anne's takeaways, it will call to mind the lessons you learned as you studied in 2022.
Anne Bednar is a mother of seven, a pediatric nurse, a lover of people, traveling, and all things active. After experiencing the hospital setting as a registered nurse, a mother and as a patient herself, she now finds herself advocating for rare diseases affecting her family, including follicular lymphoma and primary ciliary dyskinesia. She finds peace in her Savior, Jesus Christ, and joy in developing relationships that bring her closer to Him, and make her more aware of the world around her.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast, where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson, and I'm so thrilled to have Anne Bednar on the line with me today. Anne, welcome.
Anne Bednar 2:08
Thank you. It's so good to be here. It's humbling, but also a wonderful experience to get to know you better. So thanks.
Morgan Jones Pearson 2:15
Well, I have been so looking forward to this. And people listening should know that I've followed Anne on social media for a little while now and have been able to read her posts, but we don't actually know each other very well, we had mutual friends. So this is, this is a treat for me to get to learn more about the stories behind the things that you've posted and shared as your family has been on a unique journey of late. So I want to start though with you and your family. This is not an entirely new experience. You all have not been strangers to hard things. And so I wondered, What have you learned through these hard things and feel free to share you know, as much as you want about what the different things that you guys have dealt with have been but what have you learned about why God allows families to go through difficult things.
Anne Bednar 3:11
Perfect. First off, I consider the fact that we do not have a monopoly on hardship for sure. I know so many, even dear friends of mine who are experiencing really tough things right now. So we do not have a monopoly on that hardship. But I think of in the book of Judges getting asked the question, if the Lord be with us, then why has this befallen us? And I think that's often a question people ask is if God exists, why do bad things happen? And I actually have never had that question before, even through this whole cancer journey and struggles with my son with a debilitating lung disease. I've never had that question largely because I feel like we learn from the scriptures so much about opposition, and about how, through the fall, opposition exists, and we have agency and choice, and we experience sadness and sorrow and misery. But with that, we also experienced the opposite extreme, we experienced joy and peace and and gladness. And so I'm grateful for that knowledge and understanding we have from the scriptures. In Moses, we also learned that through the the fall, an outcome of that is joy. And I'm so grateful for that understanding that when we experience the bitter we also can experience the sweet even sometimes simultaneously, and that when we are brought to the end of our rope, or we are struggling, and if we turn to the Savior, He can bring a peace, that that seems impossible at times, but that passeth all understanding and I'm so grateful for that understanding. I think about an experience that my husband and I had in Ghana. Shortly after we were married, he took a group of MBA students to Ghana, Africa and I was able to go and serve as a nurse there and do some screenings and assessments and establish baseline health assessments for these children. And in these beautiful faces, these faces who have experienced far more temporally than I will ever have to experience I saw light of Christ that was unreal, I saw joy and gladness, and I think so often, we, especially in America, we tend to take the path of least resistance or to eliminate trials, when in reality, it's in that struggle, it's in in the lows and the hardship that we come to build our character as we come to the Savior in that heartache, and he brings that peace. And makes far more of ourselves than then we could make on our own. So I've learned that the trials and hardships are a part of life, I think about the people, the children of Israel, as they are traveling from Sinai to Canaan, and the distance should not have taken them 40 years, right? We now understand that. But it's in those hardships that they experienced, that they were sanctified that their hearts and minds were prepared to witness what they needed to and to learn what they needed to and to be prepared for that promised land. So I've learned to be grateful for the hardship. And we can delve more into specifics later, but it's all a part of life.
Morgan Jones Pearson 6:23
For sure, you know, it's interesting that you say that. I was just thinking, I was asked to share some thoughts in Relief Society last Sunday. And I was thinking about how, you know, I would love to say that I have drawn close to the Savior, and to our Heavenly Father, through happy times in my life. But I don't think that that's usually the way that it works. It's always in those hard periods that we see the most progression toward God, I think. And so I love that I also have found it interesting in following your story that it seems like this is something that has brought you and your husband closer. So I wondered how has navigating these things strengthened your marriage, I'm sure it's tried it as well. But how has it strengthened it?
Anne Bednar 7:15
It's interesting, because I feel like my husband and I are pretty good. When times are tough. I feel like we overlook the petty stuff that can tend to creep into a marriage when we're facing hard stuff, and we have a more eternal lens with which we view each other. But I think the important part is to build your marriage in the in between times when things are going smoothly, because that's what will fortify and strengthen you for when times get tough. When our son Sam was two days old, he had to go back to Primary Children's Hospital with some respiratory distress. And he was diagnosed with with PCD at that time, and we happened to meet a mother have another patient who was in and out of the hospital frequently with the same disease. And she cautioned us because she was facing a divorce herself and felt like a lot of it was due to the fact that they didn't make their marriage a priority when times got tough with the help of their daughter. And so that was a really important piece of cautionary advice for us early on in the game.
Morgan Jones Pearson 8:26
So question for you about that. You mentioned making marriage a priority making your marriage a priority? What does that look like in practice for you guys,
Anne Bednar 8:37
oftentimes, I feel like I view my spouse as an extension of myself, and I don't think to serve him or love him in unique ways. So I think that's one thing I specifically have been trying to do recently is to make him more of a priority in my life. And one of the ways that we do that, or I've been trying to do that is at night, to really make that time meaningful and sacred when we have put the kids down to bed and we can focus on each other's worlds. And kind of understand what's going on in each of our independent lives and how we can improve our communication throughout the day and how we can more fully support each other so that we are the strongest version of our team, as we face whatever challenges come to our family. I think another important piece to that is to make time for fun in your marriage and to remember why you fell in love in the first place and to create exciting moments, just like when you were dating. And so we've tried to make date nights a priority and to make time to talk and enjoy each other's company when our kids are not around.
Morgan Jones Pearson 9:48
I love it. So you mentioned your cancer diagnosis. I wondered, as a young mom, what are the thoughts that go through your mind when you're facing something like this with so many little kids that are depending on you, and you know how much they depend on?
Anne Bednar 10:11
Yes...There's a lot I think of this question and I immediately think of it an experience I had. Shortly after learning that I had some form of cancer, I was going down the rabbit hole of what it could be and looking at a support page, knowing full well that this might be the outcome for me, it might be this type of cancer and my mind was so many different places at that point, and I knew I had to go into my twins room at the time, they were just one and Little Mac and Eleanor were squawking in each otheir separate cribs, and my heart was heavy. And I felt so much fear of the unknown of what could be in the second chapter of my life and what things I would miss in the lives of these precious little babies as I sang to them songs about Jesus and as I prayed with them, my heart went to some really fearful places. But as I prayed, and as I put one foot in front of the other, and I hugged them, and I put them to bed, I realized life goes on, you have to put one foot in front of the other. And yes, you have to allow time for grief and for mourning, but there's power in action, and there's power in moving forward. I think of another couple of experiences that happen that exact same week, as we were learning about this diagnosis and figuring out how to navigate telling our kids. And I think about my little Jane, who at the time was five, and her little friend somehow had gotten wind of of our news and mentioned to her that her mommy, she said, I'm sorry, Your mommy's dying of cancer. And of course, that's not true in the immediate future, especially but in Jane's mind, she went straight to an experience we had in the backyard where we buried our pet fish, Buddy. And in her mind, it was sticking the fish in the ground and throwing dirt over it. And it produced so much fear in her mind. Even to this day, she gets so fearful when I put on my slippers because she thinks I'm leaving. And she doesn't want to leave my side. And if for some reason I can't tuck her in, she's so sad. And as Jeff and I navigated this process of diagnosis and figuring out how to create intentional experiences with them to talk about it, and had prayers in our hearts, I felt like even though we didn't have the bandwidth to create these perfectly orchestrated exchanges, that the Spirit and that God knew the intent of our heart. And he created the most beautiful experience that evening, after I put the twins down with my Jane who was five at the time, and Sam was eight. And we just had a meaningful talk, discussing their fears and their concerns. And as a result of laying their fears, my heart was comforted in the process. And it organically happened largely because I think we have that prayer in our heart. I think about that when I think even more about what might be stripped of me in the future, I think of Gideon in the Old Testament. And all the tools he thought he needed to be successful, or he needed to defeat the army of the Midianites were stripped from him. And I think in the future, I'm going to be stripped of a lot of my faculties, possibly physically and emotionally. And times will get rough. And I take comfort in those stories. I did in such a new, real and powerful way that Christ will compensate when I lacked physically and He will make up the difference in really sweet ways. And I have faith in that, I have faith in those promises. One more quick thought on this. Our kids through COVID had to be on lockdown for far longer than most to protect their brother Sam. And at times, I felt so sad for them. I thought oh, I feel like I'm ripping them away from their sports and from school and from social interactions that are so important. And then in retrospect, I look at how that time built our family. And so when I think about how my kids might struggle to see me struggle, or might have to carry more of the load, in reality that builds character, and that makes them stronger children, more fit to build God's kingdom. It's a funny little image that I have in my head but shortly after my diagnosis, I saw my little five year old daughter in the backyard and she had a pot, it was a sunflower pot, that her grandma Birkstead had given her and she had this little pot, she was so excited to plant the seeds and she had them all lined up in one little row on top. And her big sister came with a little spoon and said Jane, you got to dig them down and she just carelessly dug those seeds down. And these crocodile tears came out of Jane's eyes and she said no, no, I want those lined up just perfectly. I didn't want them underneath the soil. And I saw my little 12 year old daughter at the time trying to explain to her, No, the seeds need the pressure of the soil, they need water, they need sunlight, but they also need the soil on top of it, those hard things that can help them grow and blossom and bloom and so I think of that visual image that we need hardships to make us stronger, and even children do and they're resilient. And they can't sit in grief for too long before they surface and are blossoming again. So I'm so grateful for that knowledge.
Morgan Jones Pearson 15:30
And I love what you said earlier, when you're talking about you and Jeff, and you said you felt like you were at your best when you're dealing with hard things. I feel like part of that is perspective. And when we're going through something difficult when we're going through a challenge, it changes everything about the way that we see the world, I think. So when you're dealing with something like this diagnosis, how does it change the way that you find yourself living in the moment and how you see the world? And how does choosing to be in the present bring freedom?
Anne Bednar 16:08
I love this question. And it's something that I've come to understand a way out of that feeling of bondage and the feeling of fear and uncertainty. So that same night when I felt so sad about the prospect of me possibly not seeing all the milestones that I want to see in my twins or in my other children. I was so fearful and I was overwhelmed by that. And at times, I've had a hard time praying because I couldn't even focus my thoughts. This time, I actually turned to the Small Seed app, to a meditation app that had been such a blessing to my life, months leading up to this diagnosis. And I listened to a meditation app by Brooke Snow. And it was about the feeling of overwhelm, overcoming those feelings of overwhelm. And in it she said the feeling of overwhelm is a symptom of not being present. And that to me was so powerful because at times in the past, even before this diagnosis, I felt so burdened by regretâ€”regret of something that I said, and I couldn't get over it or regret of something that I wish I had the bandwidth to do, and I couldn't, or I feared something that may or may not even happen in the future. And that was such a powerful freeing moment when I realized as I meditated and came in tune with that spirit that I realized, I can be free as long as I don't fear the future. And I put the past in perspective, and I try with all my might to focus in the present. And through that meditation and calming my heart and my mind, I was able to pray that night in a way that I've never prayed before. And I found a peace that allowed me to sleep, I'd had a lot of sleepless nights up to that point. And I'm so grateful for that perspective shift. There is power when we focus on what we can control in the moment, and making the most of that moment and not living in the past or fearing the future. I just recently went to my husband's last lecture, he gives the last lecture every semester and I went to it last week and a quote he shared took on new meaning for me. It's a quote by President Eyring. And it says, "I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life, I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you but only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is they seem to make clocks slow down, and then almost appear to stop." And I can attest that that's happened in my case. Back to the quote, "There are reasons for knowing that. Knowing those reasons may not give much comfort, but it can give you a feeling of patience. Those reasons come from this one fact: In their perfect love for you Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with Them to live when family is forever. Only those washed perfectly clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be there." And as I listened to that quote, I thought, ultimately, we know we will all die, that's a part of mortality, right? And if we accept that fact and recognize that if we believe what we believe, death is not the end, and that's not what I should be fearing. In reality, the end ultimately is what we become in the process or the journey and the hardships and the trials and the ultimate end is what we make of ourselves through those trials. And that is hopefully a person fitted to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forever. And I'm so grateful for that perspective shift and how it's changed the way that I think about this diagnosis.
Morgan Jones Pearson 19:43
Well and I think that quote reminds me of talks that have been given, I believe Elder Uchtdorf gave a talk at one point where he talked about time and how time is not an eternal thing and so it makes sense that it wouldn't, you know, time would start to feel different when you're going through something that's fitting you for heaven.
Anne Bednar 20:08
Exactly. In those moments of fear, I also have felt like the clocks stop, and I'm able to see my kids in these in a beautiful new way, like I'm experiencing their toddlerhood in a whole new way that I haven't ever before. So I agree with you, it's a beautiful thing.
Morgan Jones Pearson 20:28
That's so cool. Another quote that you've shared, it's by Elder Neal A Maxwell. And he said, "One of the reasons we love each other in the kingdom is that our friendships are not friendships of initiation at all, but are instead friendships of resumption." Anne, you've shared a lot on social media, about your experiences with friendship through this period of adversity, and what friendships have meant to you. I wondered, I feel like one thing that my mom was always big on was like picking good friends, and how do you choose good friends? So I wondered, as you have had to rely on these friendships that you've built over the course of your lifetime, what advice do you give to your kids on choosing good friends?
Unknown Speaker 21:22
I love this, because I've been thinking a lot about it, as I now have teenage daughters,
Morgan Jones Pearson 21:26
Which is hard!
Anne Bednar 21:27
It is hard. It is hard. And I think about the Elder Maxwell quote, in connection with how you posed the question, but "The same God who placed the star in the exact orbit also placed each of us in the precise human orbit centuries later." And I firmly believe that friendships are not coincidences, that our paths don't cross, just by chance. And friendships have surfaced for me as I've gotten this diagnosis from all facets of my life, from all eras. And it's been such a blessing for me to reflect on those friendships. And I think as I think about that, quote, I feel like the premortal realm and mortality and eternal life are all much more closely intertwined, than we, in fact, can realize with our finite minds, and I think that's, that's true to a friendship, that sometimes I need someone, whether it was on my mission or on a sports team, and I feel like I've known them before. And I feel connected to them in a really sweet way. And I think that's because possibly we knew them before. And there's purpose for those friendships in this life. But when I think about giving advice to my kids about friendships, I think about an exchange between Saul and Samuel, where Samuel empowers him, Saul thinks of himself merely as a donkey keeper, but Saul sees so much more in Him as does God. And I think that if my kids can find those people that see more in them, and if they too can see more in other people and can see potential, that is the sign of true friendship. Also, someone who inspires greatness, like Samuel inspired greatness in Saul and saw more in him. And as a result Saul could see more in himself. So I think if, if my kids look for good influences, who make them want to be better, but who also see potential in themselves and provide a sense of confidence, those are the most beautiful friendships that you can find whether they're members of our faith or not. I think that's the key to finding good friendships.
Morgan Jones Pearson 23:35
Those are great tips, I think. Okay, so I love how, as we've talked already, people can probably pick up on these little insights that you have gained from Come, Follow me this year in our in our study of the Old Testament. But you began in May sharing these things that you were learning as it applied to what you were going through. And for me, it was really cool, because I was teaching early morning seminary, and every time I would look at the lesson, I was just like, oh, boy, like, this is quite the story I hear. And then I would read what you had gained from the reading. And I just thought, okay, it is applicable to whatever it is that we're going through. And so I wondered if you could share maybe two to three of these takeaways that you've gained from this year's Come, Follow Me.
Anne Bednar 24:32
Sure. It's interesting because I feel like so often we hear about someone's connection with scripture, and how it relates to a trial or a tragedy in their life after that trial has passed. And so I found it so freeing and so inspiring to put my thoughts to paper or to words through Instagram, which is fairly out of character for me to do that to share myself like that. But I feel like I've struggled silently before and I would have given anything to connect with someone who is turning to the Savior in their struggle, and in their trial. So for me, it was just a beautiful place to share what I what I was learning. But the first takeaway I think that I am so grateful for I thought about a scripture, that my son, Sam, who at the time was eight was given to prepare a talk in primary. It was a scripture found in Genesis 50:20, and the setting for this is Joseph speaking with his brothers after so much has transpired, and they left him for dead and he returns and the scripture says God meant it unto good, and just how beautiful that concept is. At the time, I joked with the secretary of Primary. I thought, wow, that seems like a little elevated topic for an eight year old to wrap their head around but at the same time, as I prepared with him, and I talked about his lung disease with him, and then how God has turned that into good for him and for our entire family, I realized that is such a foundational principle for all of us. And it's something I found threaded throughout the Old Testament that God has the power to turn whatever we face in our life, good and bad, into something that's beautiful and can make far more out of ourselves through that trial if we turn to him in that. All that they suffered on that long journey and even after prepared them for something that was greater. So I just I've been so grateful for that, that key learning. Tied with that was an experience I had as a nurse on a night shift, I distinctly remember this, and my friend who was sitting out at the table after I exited a room of a patient with cystic fibrosis. And I kind of got teary because I was so sad at all this young young child had to experience and I asked her what her greatest fears were in life. And she then asked me the same question. And I vividly remember saying, I fear having a child with cystic fibrosis. And I also said, I fear having the diagnosis of cancer as a young mom. And as I think back on those responses, and those fears that I had, I am in awe that God has turned, and they're similar trials, my son has ciliary dyskinesia, which is very similar to cystic fibrosis. And I've seen him suffer in the hospital, just like I saw that child suffer that night. And I've seen how He's turned two of my greatest fears into some of my greatest teachers. And I'm so grateful for how those trials have refined me and shaped me so I'm so grateful for that.
Morgan Jones Pearson 27:38
It's always so interesting to me, that idea of the thing that we're the most afraid of often being the thing that happens, Ann Romney was on this podcast, and she talked about her friend, and I'm forgetting her name. But she and her sister had had a conversation years earlier, where they had this discussion about what would be the worst thing that you can imagine happening to you. And fast forward, both of those things happen to each of them. And it's just interesting to me, because I think sometimes those things that we're most afraid of are the things that we're actually prepared for, and the things that we can actually handle despite the fact that we think we wouldn't be able to handle them. And I love that scripture in Genesis and the idea that, you know, everything that we experience, everything that God allows us to experience is meant for our good. Okay, takeaway number two?
Anne Bednar 28:39
Yeah. Really quick. Just to add to that last one, I feel like uniquely, this spirit caters to those fears, in a way that like I fear for other people when they're experiencing the worst in their lives. But I've seen how the spirit uniquely caters to me in helping me through those trials. So that's anyway, that's interesting. I feel like the scripture in Jacob where it talks about sanctifying yourselves for tomorrow, the Lord will do wonders among you, I firmly believe that. The second concept that that rang true for me throughout the Old Testament was the concept of faith over fear. I think about Elisha, and that experience where the concept of they that be with us are greater than they that be with them or with Gideon and his army as they faced an army far greater than theirs, the Midianites. And yet God's stripped even more members of his army that he thought he needed to fight. And I think about how in that stripping, God was able to work a miracle for that army and they were victorious. In the stripping, we rely on that daily manna that it talks about in the Old Testament. We rely on obedience and that constant sustenance and sustaining food that comes spiritually from God when we turn to him daily. And so I love that concept threaded throughout. And then also those the pillar of light and the fire that came at night and the clouds that came during the day to guide them. And I can attest that those pillars of light and those clouds have come in this process of being diagnosed with cancer. And through many experiences as young mom, as I've turned to the Lord, I have seen how he has guided my footsteps just as he did the children of Israel, I think about I met a couple at actually a BYU dinner shortly after my son Sam was born. And they have three children, one who had passed away from cystic fibrosis and two others who were still living. And they said, one, one piece of advice, I asked them what they would teach me and they said, don't make decisions about your family based on fear. And that has never left me and as I, with every child that we've had, in the decision to get pregnant, we had a one in four chance that that child would have this disease. And we tried so hard to prayerfully make those decisions out of faith, with faith, instead of in fear. So I'm so grateful for those examples in the Old Testament that remind us that we have an army far greater than we can see, helping us along the way. In the Old Testament, when it talks about Moses and Moses asked the question, Who am I, and at the time, Moses is a man without a home, he doubted his own capabilities, he was slow of speech. And I often feel like I'm slow of speech and can't find the words to articulate how I feel. But I resonated so much with the self doubt of so many characters in the Bible. In the Old Testament, in particular, I think of Noah, I think of Ruth, so many women, Ruth, Rahab, Esther, I think of Jonah and Jeremiah, all these characters in the Old Testament who had fear, they had misgivings about whether or not they could fulfill what God had commanded them to. And yet, God made so much more of themselves than they could make of themselves. And as Moses through his journey with the Israelites, I truly came to feel like he was a friend, and I knew he was gonna die. I mean, we all know he was gonna die. But I felt like I was mourning the loss of a friend as he goes up onto that mountain, and is not able to see usher in the Israelites to the promised land, that was so sad for me. And yet, I loved the beautiful transition of him from mortality to immortality in that he recognized his need to move on and the need for someone else to take over. And he was so humble in that transition. And, and none of us know how our lives will pan out, or how they're going to end. And I think about how I especially don't know what my second chapter is going to look like, or at what point I will transfer from mortality when I die. But I feel like we can seek and expect miracles like President Nelson encouraged us to just like these prophets, and not even prophets in the Old Testament, just as they sought for heavenly help, we too can seek for Heavenly help and see with eternal eyes and a new perspective.
Morgan Jones Pearson 33:19
Those are such such great takeaways. My husband and I were just talking the other day about how quickly things can happen. And it's so easy, I think, when there is some sort of diagnosis or something that you're worried about health wise to be like, Okay, well, that will be the thing that I need to be worried about. But mortality so quickly can change. And so just being prepared and having eyes to see, like you said, those miracles that are happening all around us all the time, I think is a profound way to live and if we all live that way, we'd be quite a bit different.
Anne Bednar 34:02
There was an experience I had, this will shed some light into my cancer journey and just the diagnostic period, when a couple of years ago, I had what they thought was a stroke. And so I went in for testing and they gave me a concoction to help with the pain for my headache. And then they said, alright, you gotta get an MRI. I think it was an MRI. Maybe it was a CT scan and I was so fearful about this experience and and I would not get in, I think the concoction of medicine like cause severe anxiety in me and I thought there's no way I'm getting in that small tube for who knows how long and they finally got me into this tube. So fast forward two years, they put me in a dark room, shot radioactive glucose up my veins and also had me drink this liquid that was radioactive that would coat my stomach. And it was in an effort to highlight all the areas of cancer in my body, from head to toe. And I was so fearful about this and ironically, they stick you in this room. And they eliminate all distraction. And they say, all right, don't think don't try not to be metabolically active. And it's so interesting because the that's the moment when I was most fearful, right? Like I thought, this scan could change the rest of my life, however long it may be, and I'm told to not think and not, you know, not be fearful but I did it and as I lay in that scan, I had so many itches I wanted to scratch and I was so fearful that I wouldn't get a good scan that would give them what they need, the information they need, and I have to repeat it. And the thought kept coming to my mind, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And that scripture brought me such peace. I also thought about a Psalm that says, Take me to a place that is higher than I and I feel like, just like Moses was blessed to do such hard things in his life. I feel like we too can tap into that power if we align our wills and our spirits with God, and he can really help us to do miraculous things.
Morgan Jones Pearson 36:07
You mentioned earlier meditation, and I feel like that's like the beauty of they talked about setting your intention, but when we set our intention on Christ, or on a scripture, on a song, I think it's amazing what what we're able to focus on, even when it seems like Yeah, right, like, I'm not going to be able to just sit in this tube and not think about any of this. Anne, how would you say that this year study of the Old Testament changed the way that you think or will think in the future of that book of scripture?
Anne Bednar 36:43
It's interesting, because the Old Testament before I felt like I could read it for nuggets, I could find little morsels that would compel me to learn a little bit more, but I've never delved into the scriptures or into the stories or characters within its pages, like I have this last year. And the promised blessings to covenant Israel felt really nebulous to me, like the posterity as numerous as the sands of the sea, and those promised blessings, didn't feel very real or tangible. I didn't really understand the concepts behind them. And as I've come to familiarize myself more with these stories, I feel like I've seen the beauty in those promised blessings that if we choose, we can be the chosen people, if we want to take part in that covenant. And I've seen the beauty and the power that lies in keeping those covenants. And it's brought more meaning to my temple attendance as I've thought about covenants that I've made there. And I'm so grateful for that insight in how I've been able to engage in those covenants more because of learning from those characters. In the past, I felt like the Old Testament was a very law focused book. But I've seen how those laws bring structure and they bring religious rituals that bring us closer to the Savior and deepen that relationship in a very powerful way. And so I've actually learned to love that part of the Old Testament.
Morgan Jones Pearson 38:18
The coolest thing to me to your point about covenants, was recognizing that I think really the Old Testament from beginning to end is teaching us about covenants. My class just had the lesson on sealings, the sealing power. And recognizing like we started out this semester talking about covenants, and we finished this semester talking about covenants. And that's I think what the Old Testament really is all about. Anne, you have talked about waiting upon the Lord. And you had this phrase that I really loved where you talked about watch and wait periods of life. What would you say is your definition of a watch and wait period of life and what have you found is worth doing in that waiting?
Anne Bednar 39:06
It's interesting because when I first received the diagnosis, I knew that it was a possibility that I wouldn't start chemo right away. And I almost bristled at that thought because I felt like I was ready to kick it into gear. I'm kind of a get 'er done kind of personality usually and I wanted to fight this and to be done with it right? To pass through one or two years of really hard stuff and then put it behind me. But when I realized the nature of this diagnosis, and actually the nature of my son's disease is a very progressive disease. It's incurable and it's not going away. And as I think about this watching and waiting I'm still in this watching and waiting period, having blood draws every six weeks and oncology visits every three months just to make sure things are right where they need to be but when I think about this, it felt very passive to me initially, but now it feels like there's an opportunity to actively wait. When you think about the disciples of Christ, who he asked them, Why could you not watch with me just one hour, right? Like they fell asleep in his greatest moment of need. And I think about what does it mean to actively watch and wait. I think of an experience that I recently had actually, that could have been a rote experience just declaring a full tithe with my bishop and our family. But it turned into a beautifully meaningful experience when he asked me and I don't know what prompted his direction this way. But he asked me to look at my children. And he said, Anne, these kids are worth it. But he said, God cannot produce a miracle if you are not willing to do your part in that miracle. And it was a real, I guess, gut punch for me in the sense that there's things that I can do better, I can change my diet in drastic ways that would probably slow the progression of this cancer growth. I can prepare my heart and mind spiritually through journaling, and through scripture study, and through meditation and prayer. And I can do so many things that will make my physical and spiritual healing, actively engaged right now. And I can be the best person I can so that when treatment does come, I can have the best possible outcome with that. I have a dear friend of mine, who shared with me insight into this watch and wait scripture found in Isaiah, to wait upon the Lord. And she talked about how they use the word GAVAH in Hebrew, GAVAH. And it could replace the word wait and anciently. The method of rope making they use it's called gavah, and they bind together small, simple strands that when separate, could be stretched and pulled apart and ripped. But when they're bound together, they create something so powerful that it can't be broken. And as I think about how trials and struggle and hardships take us to a place of fear and uncertainty, but when we bind ourselves to the Savior and returning to Him, that rope can be stronger, it can be unbreakable. And we can find a power in our lives that we didn't know existed before.
Morgan Jones Pearson 42:22
I love that. Another thing that I love that you shared on Instagram, you shared this quote, and I am gonna butcher this person's name probably when Pema ChÃ¶drÃ¶n said, "Looking deeper, we could say that the real cause of suffering is not being able to tolerate uncertainty, and thinking that it's perfectly sane, perfectly normal, to deny the fundamental groundlessness of being human." And then you wrote, "Uncertainty, ironically, provides the framework for progression, because it keeps us willing to search for more within us as we continue on the path." This is an idea that I felt like you shared a few different thoughts about this idea of living with uncertainty, but what are you learning about living with uncertainty?
Anne Bednar 43:13
I love the idea that uncertainty is a part of being human right. It's a part of our mortal existence. And I feel like I'm getting better at learning to be intentional and creating faith rather than indulging my fears or giving in to my fears. As I've said before, my son's disease and also this cancer, they're a progressive, sort of scenario, and it's incurable. And I feel like, I get bits and pieces of news every so often that that brings me back to my knees and reminds me that I am mortal, and that this is not going away. And I need the strength of the Lord. But I found that as I have sought the Lord's help daily through that manner and sought for his guidance and protection, I feel like that fear has developed in a beautiful way and, through that, faith has developed in a beautiful way. And those fears have have almost diminished in a way. So that's what I would say.
Morgan Jones Pearson 44:18
I totally agree. I think it kind of goes back to that idea of of living in the present. Anne, you also shared and this will be the last question that I asked you before we get to our final question, but I loved this experience that you shared. You had a conversation with a friend whose daughter was also going through some health challenges. And your friend said "We try to set up scaffolding for our lives that will create certainty, but really life/mortality is always uncertain, hour to hour, day to day, the only thing constant is Christ." And I think that is so true. I am 100% guilty of that attempting to create scaffolding and trying to set things up just perfectly to avoid any kind of pain. But I love that idea that the only constant thing that we have in this life is Christ. How have these trials taught you to rely on Him in a way that you feel like you might not otherwise?
Anne Bednar 45:28
It's interesting because through the initialâ€”when I was so sick trying to find answers regarding this, why I've been so sick the last little while, I was brought to my knees in a very real way. I was at my low physically, but I feel like the spirit compensated so beautifully in a powerful way. And my mission president was Brad Wilcox. And so this was nearly you know, over 20 years ago, and he shared with me something then that has stuck with me ever since. He said Christ, and I am paraphrasing, but he said Christ suffered for more than just our sins. He suffered for all of our pains or heartaches. And I'd like to include insecurities, our sorrows, our bad habits, or destructive patterns, loneliness, all of it, he suffered for all that separates us from the Savior, and separates us from God. And because He suffered for all that, we don't have to carry it. And we can be freed of that, in a sense, and I feel like in binding myself to the Savior in this trial, I feel like I have been carried in the most miraculous way possible. In the second half of the Old Testament, God speaks to people in exile. And I feel like in a sense, we are all people in exile. But He also provides a way out for those who were in exile. And he provides a Savior, and he provides opportunity after opportunity to draw ourselves closer to Him through the Savior's atoning sacrifice. And I have felt that pull back to Him in such a sweet way. As I've sought to align my will with His and sought to develop my relationship with my Savior, I thought of an experience that I had. This was shortly after my son was home from the hospital, he was on oxygen, and it was actually around Easter time. And we were admitted to the hospital, he got meta pneumo virus and swine flu on top of each other. And so we found ourselves at Primary Children's on Easter, and my mom had the rest of the kids and we we snuck away from his room to join with other parents in a kind of a makeshift sacrament meeting room. And I will never forget how powerful that was separating ourselves from the world. And we came to partake of the sacrament. And as I listened to the testimonies, and I saw the faces of those parents who feared the worst for their children, I saw one patient who had a pole that was feeding her intravenously, and she was so so thin and so sick. I saw a patient in the room over who was struggling with all manner of issues with their heart and needed open heart surgery and just so many different ailments that I had cared for years prior as a nurse, but to be on the other end of it, witnessing these parents partake of the sacrament together and recognize what that atoning sacrifice in that ordinance meant for them was so powerful. And I will never take that ordinance, again, without thinking of what took place within those sacred walls of that hospital. And it almost makes me want to return to the nursing profession after my kids are grown and I could dare to go places with parents that I wouldn't otherwise have gone prior, as a nurse, having been on the other end of it as a parent, and now as a patient with cancer.
Morgan Jones Pearson 49:02
Well, I actually had the chance a few years ago to write a story about the Primary Children's branch that they have there. And the branch president was like, if I do this story, will you come back and sing one Sunday? And so I got to go a couple of times. And it really is I have told my husband several times, I'm like, I'm convinced that a piece of heaven on earth is there at Primary Children's when they hold those special sacrament meetings, so that's awesome. And it has been such a treat to learn from you and to be able to kind of benefit from your study of the Old Testament. I feel like I could have done better this past year and I will try to make up for this next year with the New Testament. But I'm so grateful to you for for sharing what you learned and hopefully it will inspire all of us to get a little bit more out of Come, Follow Me this coming year. My last question for you is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Anne Bednar 50:09
In turning to the Savior through hardships, I think I've come to understand how we can more powerfully bind ourselves to Him and to the power that comes from keeping covenants. He becomes a part of us, in essence, and there are scriptures, all threaded throughout all of scripture that talk about how Christ is at the door, He's knocking, He wants to come in. And if we allow Him in, if we allow Him all in our lives, he can make far more out of us than we can make of ourselves. There's a beautiful scripture in Ephesians that I came across when I was studying the Old Testament. And it says, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith that ye being rooted and grounded in love, and may be able to comprehend with all saints what the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." I feel like when we allow Christ in to make more of us than we could make of ourselves, we're able to be used as instruments in building his kingdom here on earth.
Morgan Jones Pearson 51:13
I love that scripture. I don't know that I've ever heard that one before. And I completely agree. I think that the quote by Ezra Taft Benson, about turning our lives over to God is probably the most quoted quote that I've used on this show but it's because it's my favorite. And I think it's just so true that that is the way to experience all that God has for us is by giving him all that we have. So Anne, thank you so much. It has been such a treat to be with you and to learn from you. And I appreciate it more than you know.
Anne Bednar 51:48
Thank you so much.
Morgan Jones Pearson 51:52
We're so grateful to Anne Bednar for joining us on today's episode. Big thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six Studios for his help with this episode. And thank you so much for joining us again in 2023.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai