Stacey Shaw, associate professor in the School of Social Work, delivered Tuesday's devotional address. She taught that as we become disciples of Jesus Christ, we will be able to use our unique journeys to better the world.
Shaw has spent a majority of her life working with refugees of diverse backgrounds and supporting them as they deal with the devastating grief that comes as they are forced to leave their home countries.
“Grief can stem from the pain of change as well as the loss of hopes that were tied to a homeland, a relationship or an identity. Adjusting to a new reality can be especially hard when we falsely believe that only one path involves happiness or only one path indicates a manifestation of God’s love."
Shaw shared three components of discipleship that can help build and strengthen the world and the people around in it: 1) knowing and valuing who we are; 2) learning to see and love others; and 3) choosing lifelong service.
Know and value who you are
As we begin our path to discipleship, being aware and accepting our unique identities and desires is vital, Shaw stated. She pointed out that while we all have a shared identity as children of God, we can learn from each other’s differences and unique experiences.
It can often be difficult to accept our unique identities when there are parts of our stories that we would rather ignore or hide, Shaw observed. However, it's important that we are honest with ourselves and bring our broken hearts to the Lord, who is able to heal us.
“Acknowledging our situations with openness before God brings redemptive power to repent, forgive and act. In working through weaknesses and pain, we can access God’s power for healing and hope.”
Leaning on her experiences as a social worker, Shaw explained that there are many refugees who resettle to the United States and experience discrimination because of their accent, religion or appearance.
Shaw challenged us to be better at going out of our way to befriend those who may be marginalized, and to love those who oftentimes don't feel seen or welcomed in our communities.
One way to help others feel seen and loved is by developing empathy, which the Savior constantly demonstrated throughout the scriptures. Shaw explained that empathy is mostly about learning how to listen to others and to put aside our own agendas in order to appreciate an individual's experiences fully.
“We may be shocked by what someone experienced or believes, it may be completely foreign to us, or uncomfortable, or something we believe is wrong. Empathy is still possible.”
Choose lifelong service
Describing many of the challenges the world faces right now, including hunger, homelessness, inequality and racism, Shaw expressed the need for students to go out of their way to serve others and to strive to better the world.
She taught that, even here at BYU, we are not immune to prejudice and have room to grow as we serve minority students who can oftentimes feel oppressed and unsafe.
“More than a particular major, we need to feel responsibility for the world we share and to learn to see others as inherently valuable regardless of their beliefs, racial identity, gender, sexual orientation, legal status or other characteristics.”
While some of the world's challenges may feel overwhelming, Shaw promises that we can rest assured that there are solutions available. As we learn to use the education and resources we have to bless the lives of others, our love for them will grow.
“And as we join others on their paths, we will witness God’s love for each human soul, and God’s ability to give beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.”