Ticketing and Ushering Assistant
Jennifer Jones was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Sandy, Utah. She studied technology education at Brigham Young University and has been employed at BYU-Idaho for 19 years. She has held positions in multiple departments including the Housing and Student Living Office, the Cashier’s Office, and the Accounting Office.
Jennifer met her husband, Allen, while volunteering at America’s Freedom Festival in Provo. They have been married for 22 years and have four children. Jennifer enjoys reading, doing puzzles, and playing games with her family. She also enjoys baking, traveling, and attending sport events. She especially enjoys BYU football. Sister Jones has held callings in the Primary, Young Women, and Cub Scout organizations. She and her husband are currently teaching Sunday School to the fourteen-year-olds in their ward.
Please respond to the questions below on the devotional discussion board:
In what ways have others shown kindness to you? Also, in what ways have you shown kindness to others?
About twenty years ago, I was attending a BYU-Idaho Student Life retreat with my husband, Allen. Brother Mack Shirley, former vice president of Student Life, said he was driving home from California one day and there wasn’t much to look at except the occasional billboards. One of these billboards, however, caught his attention. It said: “Everybody is Somebody’s Weirdo.” This phrase has stuck with me ever since Brother Shirley shared it, and it is often quoted in our home. You may have had similar thoughts about some of your neighbors growing up, ward members, roommates, classmates, co-workers, supervisors, and on and on.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin provided the following advice for those you meet or those you know whom you may perceive as being “weird” or different from you. He said, “The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.” He goes on to say, “Brothers and sisters, if only we had more compassion for those who are different from us, it would lighten many of the problems and sorrows in the world today.” 
Every person we know—and every person we do not know—has someone who loves them. They have somebody who is praying for them, whether this is a parent, a friend, a sibling, a teacher, a Relief Society or Elder’s Quorum president, bishop, stake president, even our prophet, or their ancestors on the other side of the veil. Most importantly, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know, love, and are reaching out to help those very persons we may have thought was one of our “weirdos.” Brothers and sisters, we are never to judge one another, for the very person we may think to judge may be the one who is most in need of our help or may be the source of help for us when we are in need. And the people we think are odd may very well perceive us as their weirdo!
Former Student Life Vice President and Interim President of BYU-Idaho Robert Wilkes had a gift for teaching using stories. One principle he taught employees and their spouses at another Student Life retreat came from a story about his dad who had old, weathered, worn-out, ugly fence posts. He determined it was time to replace them and went and tore them out.
Most people would have burned the fence posts or thrown them away. His dad, however, was a fine carpenter and saw the potential that still laid within the old fence posts. He took them to a mill where there were cut into pieces which he then carefully crafted into beautiful cedar wood chests which he then gifted to his granddaughters.
From this story we learn that there were different choices that could be made with the old fence posts, each having different outcomes. Like Brother Wilkes’s father, how can we see the potential for good in others and make the investment of our time and nurturing to bring about a similar transformation like the old worn-out fence posts into beautiful cedar chests? Such transformations can even take place with ourselves.
I want to share a story with you about a time when I witnessed a similar transformation. This time, however, instead of fence posts it was a child of God. During my time as a head resident on campus, I made acquaintance with a young female student who struggled with shyness and self-confidence. She was extremely shy to the point of always keeping her head down when she walked. If she was on the same sidewalk as you were, she would cross to a different sidewalk, just so she could avoid any interaction. When people said hi to her in passing, she would give a little nod with her head still down and would quickly move out of the way. I tried to help her but to no avail. However, six months after meeting her, I began noticing little changes in her. Instead of nodding and keeping her head down when someone said hi to her, she began to lift her head up and give a quick nod. And, instead of crossing the sidewalk to avoid conversation with those she recognized, she would now stay on the same sidewalk. She then went from keeping her head down and nodding to giving a quick smile when someone would say hi to her. These improvements of confidence continued on for a few more months until finally she no longer lowered her head, stayed on the same sidewalk, would smile and say hi to others, and would even stop to interact with them. Her transformation was quite the sight to behold, and her countenance was filled with joy and the most beautiful smile.
One day as we were conversing with each other, I asked her, “How did this transformation take place?” She responded by saying she had been blessed with good roommates who cared for her, loved her, and never gave up on her. They included her, though it took some time for her to gather the courage to join them. Gradually, she accepted their invitations to participate, whether it was hanging out, having dinner with them, or watching movies with them. She knew that they were genuine in their kindness and love for her which helped her take a leap of faith and act on their invitations.
Due in part to the kindness of these roommates, this young woman ended up serving a mission. I bumped into her a year after she got home, and to be honest, I did not recognize her. The transformation that had started here at college had continued while on her mission. She now exhumed confidence and the light in her eyes was so bright. The acts of kindness, love, and inclusiveness shown by these roommates literally changed the direction of her life!
So, what does the story of the old wooden fence posts and this girl have in common? Each had someone who saw the potential that was within them. The fence posts were transformed into a beautiful cedar chest and this girl who lacked confidence was transformed into a vibrant and confident daughter of God with infinite potential. Will you choose to be like this girl’s roommates and see the potential for good in others? At times it may not be easy. You may have to pray, even fast for those that you know where such potential is not currently seen. You may also have to pray and fast that you may be humble and have your eyes opened to see the potential that lies in others, and in some cases, the potential that lies in yourself. President Henry B. Eyring in the October 2015 general conference gave us great counsel that can help us in these situations. He said, “Only through the Holy Ghost can we see people and events as God sees them.”  So, as you pray to see the potential in others, also pray for the Holy Ghost to help you see others as God sees them.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton counseled each of us to “be one who nurtures and who builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. . . . If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.” 
My invitation to you is to think of someone you know who could use your nurturing and building. Who may be in need of your inclusiveness, kindness, and love? Think about those in your apartment, those in your housing complex, your ward, your classes, family members, co-workers, and others you come in contact with. Who can you help? Who can you include? Who can you serve? Make this a matter of prayer and counsel with the Lord.
Now, it is also important to remember that sometimes our efforts to help others may not be accepted, as was the case for me with this girl as my invitations to include and involve her went nowhere. For those who are trying to help others and aren’t succeeding, don’t give up. If you are not finding success in helping a specific individual, prayerfully seek to include and involve others from the individual’s circle of influence who may be able to help. This could include teachers, church leaders, housing supervisors, roommates, siblings, or others.
In this week’s devotional discussion board, Kris posted, “I tend to put up walls to protect myself because of things that happened in my childhood, so it is difficult to make friends. The people who continue to try to connect with me despite my walls are angels sent to me. I know it is not easy to be my friend and so I am grateful for the ones who don't give up. I have one such friend that I met when I first moved here. She literally saved my life because she insisted on taking me to the hospital when I thought I was fine. My appendix had ruptured 15 hours before and if she hadn't taken me, I would have died.”
Each day, you and I are given opportunities to show love and kindness to those around us. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve.” 
I love this direction given to us by President Kimball. Every day we have been given the task to love and serve those people around us. Our Heavenly Father has trusted us to be kind, to smile, to speak kindly, and extend invitations. We really never know who we might may be able to bless, lift, or serve during our daily routines.
What kind of an influence can you have? Can you help change the world? The answer is yes, you can. To illustrate this point, I want to explain this in a visual way.
Here is some milk that, for this purpose, represents the world around us. These drops of colors represent the people around us, those we come across daily. They are the portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve. This Q-tip is you. Just one person. When one act of kindness is given to just one person, that person begins to affect the persons next to them and in turn, they then go out and affect others.
Do you realize the power you have to influence and change the world by loving and serving the people that God has put in your path? I invite you to pray for and seek this power in your life. The next time you are at work, a store, in a parking lot, an elevator, or elsewhere, remember you can have a great and lasting impact on those around you. When your food order is wrong or your cashier seems to be curt or the driver in front of you cuts you off, be kind. Smile anyway. Be patient.
The kindness you show to others often has a rippling effect. Showing kindness versus anger and disdain may help others to try harder and extend kindness and forgiveness to others when they are wronged.
For the last 19 years, I have been blessed to work and associate with many amazing students. As a head resident in the dorms, I have seen resident assistants reach out and include and involve the students they were responsible for. I have seen them teach other students how to clean, cook, do laundry, and study. I have seen them love those in their complex by talking with them when they were alone or feeling homesick or provided comfort during stressful times.
I have seen my event ushers and cashiers in action at devotional and at other activities and events reach out to the ones who are by themselves to help these individuals feel connected and loved. Each of them is changing the world around them by loving and being kind to the ones that cross their paths. As my students graduate and move all over the world, I have been able to see how many are still touching others’ lives for good through their kindness and love.
One of my favorite talks was given by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin entitled “The Virtue of Kindness.” He says, “Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes. Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years.” 
Elder Wirthlin then goes on to talk about a man seven years older than him who had complimented him on his performance and sportsmanship after a football game. Elder Wirthlin talks about how that compliment stayed with him for more than 60 years. He doubts that the person who gave the compliment ever remembered giving it, but Elder Wirthlin always remembered it. (The man who complimented him on his performance was Gordon B. Hinckley.)
Elder Wirthlin goes on to say, “Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.” 
Our Savior is the perfect example of kindness and compassion. He spent His life ministering and being kind to those around Him. As Peter described in Acts, Jesus went about doing good.  A few examples of Christ’s acts of kindness include: when He healed the soldier’s ear cut off by Peter before He was taken away at the Garden of Gethsemane; when He performed the miracle of wine at a wedding for His mother; healing the lepers; the woman who touched His robe and was healed; at the pool of Bethesda where He healed a lame man; by raising Jairus’s daughter from the dead; forgiving the adulteress; and kindness to those who nailed Him to a cross, saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” 
Christ is the perfect example of kindness and compassion. And in our world today, there is a greater need for us to become more like our Savior. In last week’s devotional, Scott Johnson said, “Love…is the essence of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am convinced that nothing pleases Him [Christ] more than when we are kind to and love and serve those around us.” 
This week, I invite you to do one act of kindness each day. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. As we are taught in Alma 37, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”  Through your small and simple acts of kindness, great things can come to pass. What are some small things that you can do to serve your portion of mankind?
From the discussion board, Christie shared the following: “To me, simple acts of kindness have had the biggest impact on my life. Opening the doors for me, saying thank you, a smile, a hug, a text telling me you are thinking of me, saying hi to me at church, remembering me in your prayers, and giving of their time on my behalf. I have learned from COVID-19 that many feel invisible or alone. So, I feel it is important to let people know they are seen, needed, and not alone. The best way I have found is to be present at the moment by listening, giving them my full attention, and putting my phone away.”
Some other examples include smiling at others, listening to others, including others, let someone in line go in front of you, help someone before they ask, hold the door for someone, compliment someone, send a note in the mail to someone, sit by someone who is alone, encourage someone who is struggling, spend one day saying only positive things about others.
From the discussion board, Stephanie shared the following, “I have [had] many people help me and my children when my husband has been deployed. They have called and checked in on me and even dropped by with a meal just so I could have a break. I in turn have taught my children that even when life is hard if we serve others, we can forget our problems. We have taken treats to neighbors and shoveled snow for them. We try to find small things that we can do to brighten others’ days.”
Brothers and sisters, we may never know the life-long impact a small act of kindness on our part can have on others.
I bear testimony that as we are kind and love those around us, we will become better disciples of Jesus Christ. I also testify that we can be the Lord’s hands here on earth and we can have power to change people’s lives. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Concern for the One,” Ensign, May 2008.
 Henry B. Eyring, “The Holy Ghost as Your Companion,” Ensign, Nov. 2015.
 Marvin J. Ashton, “The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign, May 1992.
 The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, 1982, 483.
 Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Virtue of Kindness,” Ensign, May 2005.
 See Acts 10:38.
 Luke 23:34.
 Scott Johnson, “Devoted Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ,” BYUI devotional, Jun. 29, 2021.
 Alma 37:6.