“We don’t necessarily have to be a leader to make a difference in someone’s life. We can be filled with our own problems or difficulties and still help out others, seeing them through," shared Jennifer Duerden on Oct. 30 at the Cannon Activities Center for the weekly BYU–Hawaii devotional.
Duerden, a special music instructor and a pianist for BYUH events, centered her address on a saying that was always on display in her childhood home. The saying went, "We are not primarily put on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through."
Seeing each other through, according to Duerden, means projecting qualities like empathy, respect, and compassion which she said her husband, Darren Duerden, a music professor at BYUH, exemplifies.
“I was in a serious car accident in graduate school. Following that accident, [Darren] had to continue with his own opportunities but also take care of me and all of the household responsibilities... He follows a lifelong pattern of service to the rest of our family and me.”
When Darren Duerden introduced his wife at the devotional, he said she was the true definition of strength not him. “Her life has not always been easy. While in graduate school, a head-on collision with a drunk driver threatened her future ability to play the piano and even to walk again. She had years of recovery from that event and as sustained lingering effects on her mobility to this day... Jennifer has never dwelt on her challenges or the physical pain they can have caused her.”
Although the accident threatened Jennifer’s ability to play the piano, according to Darren, she remains a fearless pianist.
“Jennifer Duerden was truly born to play the piano. Through this instrument, she finds joy, friendship, accomplishment, challenge, exhilarating, peace and more. It is also where she feels closest to the spirit. Although unconventional, I even believe her testimony is best expressed through her music, which you may have felt.”
The power of music was a central topic in Jennifer’s devotional. She said the hymn sang at the opening of the devotional, “Lead Kindly Light,” is her favorite hymn because she finds solace in its message.
“The hymns sung today remind me how we are all children of our Heavenly Father. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is always there for us. Where there are gaps in our needs that can't be filled, we can always rely on the Savior and His infinite love for each of us as individuals.”
To end the devotional, Jennifer strayed from the conventional and asked everyone to sing the hymn “Our Savior’s Love” to remind all they need to have a personal testimony of Christ. She explained Christ understands all of our experiences which can support us when we face trials.
“No more words that I can write will match the beauty of all of us singing this hymn, [“Our Savior's Love”] filled with hope.”
Taylor Stoll, a freshman studying biomedecine from Florida, said he enjoyed Duerden’s message because it emphasized on music. "I play percussion, so I really enjoyed the musical numbers. I feel the spirit usually more through music, especially when I can play it. That is something I relate to with Sister Duerden.”