"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
May 13, 2015
Beloved of God
by Marian Stoddard

Editor's note: Marian Stoddard has been called away by a death in the family and was unable to write a column this week. This column first appeared on November 14, 2012.

When we lived in Seattle, way back in 1976-78, someone sent us the Seventh-day Adventist magazine. To the best of our knowledge, we didn’t know any Seventh-day Adventists, but we received this monthly magazine for maybe three years, and often found articles in it that were thoughtful and worthwhile.

Once, there was a quotation that struck me so forcibly that it remains a touchstone. Ellen White, whose followers became the Seventh-day Adventists, was part of the religious upheavals in New York that affected the Smith family so much, and she understood how personal our personal God is. She said, "The relationship between God and each soul should be as distinct and as full as if that soul were the only one to share his watchcare, the only one for whom he gave His beloved Son."

Carlfred Broderick (author, therapist, and stake president) told the story1 of giving a blessing to a woman who was at the end of her capacities for coping, and becoming angry at the Lord. She had a newborn to take care of and had called upon the priesthood for a blessing; this pregnancy had been a miracle in itself, but now she felt abandoned as she was very ill.

Days had passed and she felt that nothing had improved; in fact, she was worse. The words that came to him now said not one word about the malady and misery she was still enduring, but said this same thing: that if she were the only one to need the Savior’s atonement, he would have offered himself for her alone. She was loved that much. Once she allowed that to sink in, and relinquished her assumption that healing had to happen on her terms, she found herself made well. She had to understand his love first.

Let that truth sink in. (And I love the word “watchcare.”) If all of our Father's children could be saved, could make it back to him on their own, except one, he would have given his Son, and our Savior would still have offered up all that he did — for the sake of one only. For any one. If it were you, if it were me, if it were that person who sometimes makes you nuts, he would have gone through all that he suffered for the sake of saving that one.

That is the depth of his love, and the depth of his knowledge of us, of what we can become, of what glory and joy he wishes for us. We are without price, of infinite worth, truly, being worth that infinite cost.

It should make us look at each other differently too. Our Heavenly Father and our Savior love that person there so much that you cannot imagine it. They love you so much that you can barely comprehend. All they ask is that you treat those fellow-beloved ones with love. It puts a new light on Paul's admonition to the Roman saints to have charity, as they quarreled about the Law of Moses: “destroy not him... for whom Christ died.” (Romans 14:15) We should treat each other with tender patience.

If we could see who we truly are, as sons and daughters of God, we would be in awe. None of us are yet what we hope to be, but all of us have hope in our Father's love and care. He will never forsake us or forget us, though we may close him out. He will always be ready to draw us in to the arms of his love.

1The full Carlfred Broderick story is available in two places. It’s a chapter in My Parents Married on a Dare (p. 132-137) or available as a small book, The Uses of Adversity, which is the title of the essay.


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About Marian Stoddard

Marian J. Stoddard was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in its Maryland suburbs. Her father grew up in Carson City, Nevada, and her mother in Salt Lake City, so she was always partly a Westerner at heart, and she ended up raising her family in Washington State. Her family took road trips all over the United States and Canada, so there were lots of adventures.

The adventures of music, literature, and art were also valued and pursued. Playing tourist always included the local museums as well as historical sites and places of natural beauty. Discussions at home, around the dinner table or working in the kitchen, could cover politics, philosophy, or poetry, with the perspective of the gospel underlying all. Words and ideas, and testimony and service, were the family currency.

Marian graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, and attended the University of Utah as the recipient of the Ralph Hardy Memorial Scholarship, where she was graduated with honors, receiving a B.A. in English. She also met the love of her life, a law student, three weeks after her arrival; she jokes that she had to marry him because her mother always wanted a tenor in the family. (She sings second soprano.) They were married two years later and have six children and six grandchildren (so far). She treasures her family, her friends, and her opportunities to serve.

Visit Marian at her blog, greaterthansparrows.  You can contact her at bloggermarian@gmail.com. 

Marian and her husband live in Tacoma, Washington. Together they teach those who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time, and she also teaches a Stake Relief Society Institute class.

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