“And there is Elder Bednar’s in-laws’ home!”
My mom says that nearly every time we go for a walk around the neighborhood while visiting my grandma in Star Valley, Wyoming. She then tells the story of how, as a teenager, my grandma used to babysit Susan Robinson, who would grow up to marry David A. Bednar. I’ve heard the story many times, but I never imagined I’d one day be able to sit down with Sister Bednar herself and have a conversation that would deepen my appreciation for what it would be like to be married to a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
On Sunday September 12, I had the opportunity to appear in a Face-to-Face broadcast for young adults with Elder and Sister Bednar. My invitation to be involved came because of an article I had written for the YA Weekly section of the Church magazines. The message I shared in that article went along with Elder Bednar’s theme for the broadcast—“Ask, Seek, Knock—and so he asked me to come share a bit about what I’d written.
As a result, I got to sit down with Sister Bednar and record a segment that would then be shown at the event.
And, boy, was I nervous. In fact, my main focus in selecting a dress to wear the morning of the recording was something that would hide the sweat marks I knew would inevitably come as we sat in front of cameras. I’ve never done anything like this before and wasn’t hopeful for the emergence of any hidden talents. And I couldn’t help but have the nagging thought that I really wasn’t the right person to do this. What could I possibly have to offer young adults all over the world?
The segment was recorded a few weeks before the Face to Face in a beautiful home in Bountiful, Utah. As I drove there, I repeated aloud to myself over and over what I planned on saying while the cameras were on, and what I wanted to tell Sister Bednar off camera. I didn’t know if she’d remember my grandma, but I thought it would be fun to tell her anyway.
I was scheduled to arrive at the home before Sister Bednar did and was standing around trying to look busy when she pulled up. The production staff stopped what they were doing and walked out to greet her. I watched as she came inside and began to greet the staff. The first thing I noticed was her bright pink, nearly fuchsia, blazer. “I just love bright colors!” she said with a smile. It wasn’t long before I heard my name: “And where is Emily?”
I gave an awkward little wave from where I was standing, and Sister Bednar came right over to say hello. After our introductions, I told her about how my grandma had been her babysitter when she was young. To my surprise Sister Bednar immediately said something like, “Oh yes, Beverly!” She then told me more I didn’t know—that her mother had been my grandma’s youth leader and that she remembers how excited she had been as a little girl when my grandma got married. And then to my greatest shock, she gave her condolences that my grandpa passed away last year.
Sister Bednar knew that my grandpa had passed away? With all of the people she and Elder Bednar must meet and minister to, I was amazed and touched that she’d remembered that.
I felt my nerves start to subside as Sister Bednar eagerly told the production staff about the connection we had just made. She was so excited about it that I couldn’t help but laugh and sincerely agree that maybe this whole thing was meant to be. She made me feel like maybe I could have something to offer here.
We then took our places on a white couch to begin filming. Now, Sister Bednar is a rather small woman physically, but she had no problem taking control of the situation. She called on someone to pray before we started, and then had no hesitation in rephrasing a question or comment if she didn’t feel that we’d gotten it just right.
But what impressed me the most was how focused she was on our purpose. It was clear that Sister Bednar had not shown up to mince words or waste time. This was a woman on a mission. Sister Bednar is not an observer, but a full participant in her husband's ministry to the world. To both me and the production staff she repeatedly said things like, “My husband wants this to be about. . .” or “I want to be sure to cover what my husband had in mind. . .” She and Elder Bednar had obviously spoken at some length about this broadcast, and Sister Bednar was determined to do her part.
After about a half hour of filming, the production staff said they had what they needed and asked Sister Bednar if there was anything else she’d like to say. She took a moment to pause, and then walked through out loud what we’d talked about. She slowly ticked off on her fingers all the points we’d made. As I watched her deep in thought, I felt a chill run through my body—I could feel how seriously she takes her responsibility to support her husband in his calling.
As I looked at Sister Bednar that day, I couldn’t help but wonder if she’s ever had some of the same thoughts I did driving to the recording: What do I have to offer? Am I the right person for this? What if I mess this up? I mean, it’s not like she grew up training to be the wife of an Apostle. She probably never anticipated that one day she’d stand next to her husband testifying to huge crowds both in person and online all over the world. There is no way this is how she imagined spending their retirement. And as far as I know, Sister Bednar doesn’t have training in public speaking, public relations, or TV broadcasting and interviews.
But do you know what she does have? A deep love for people and a deep love for God.
And it is my observation that Sister Susan Bednar allows that love to overshadow any fear of inadequacy. Whether or not she's comfortable speaking in front of a camera or living in the public eye, she does it. And she does it with grace, sincerity, and passion.
I think I can speak for all who know her in saying how grateful I am for Sister Bednar’s example—her day-after-day willingness to wake up, put on a bright pink blazer, and share her light and love with people like me who need it is no small thing.