Jenedy Paige: The Power of a Personal Relationship with God
Jenedy Paige knows a thing or two about strength. For one, she's competed on American Ninja Warrior—a feat she never thought she could accomplish but that she believes God led her to. But she also knows that strength comes from having a personal relationship with God during challenging times, like when her son died due to a drowning accident, and during beautiful times like when she is alone in her art studio during the early morning hours of the day. What has grounded her through it all? On this week’s episode, Jenedy shares a guarantee that she relies on that gives her strength—she calls it PJs.
As you develop that relationship with Jesus Christ, as you come to know Him, He teaches you who you are, and what you're capable of. And I promise, what you're capable of is way more than you currently think.
- Jenedy Paige's website: https://jenedypaige.com/
- Jenedy's American Ninja Warrior submission: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KvzCagWi-c
- Let Go painting: https://jenedypaige.com/products/let-go
- Waiting For Answers painting: https://jenedypaige.com/products/waiting-for-answers
11:36- Drowning and Grief
28:22- Real Art Ninja
44:23- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
The following transcript is intended to aid in your study. However, while we try to go through the transcript, our transcripts are primarily computer-generated and often contain errors. Please forgive the transcripts' imperfections.
Morgan Jones Pearson
Before we get into this week's episode, I just want to quickly acknowledge the fact that this is our 200th episode of All In. Four years ago this week, we launched the show not knowing what to expect and honestly not really knowing what we were doing, but some very kind guests and some very kind listeners took a chance on us and we are so so grateful. The people have always been what has made this show special, so thank you for being one of them.
Jenedy Paige recently wrote on her website, "I continue to see all these parallels between strength training and life. In order to see growth you have to progressively overload your muscles. If you always lift what's comfortable, you'll never get stronger." It is a lesson she's learning over time. But the 34 year old mother of four could have never imagined when she lost her son in a drowning accident what the Lord had in store to help her regain her strength.
Jenedy Paige was born with two God-given gifts: she's an early riser and she's consistent. She's used her natural abilities to become a professional oil painter, and an American Ninja Warrior athlete. She is a proud graduate of BYU-Idaho. And when she's not in her studio, or the gym, she loves to be in the kitchen. She thanks God every day for carefully leading her down a path she could have never imagined for herself.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast, where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm Morgan Pearson. And I am so honored to have Jenedy Paige on the line with me today, Jenedy, welcome.
Thank you, Morgan. I'm so happy to be here.
Morgan Jones Pearson
Well, I'm so happy to have you. And I'm so excited to talk. And I feel like you have so many wonderful things to share with our audience. And so I am just going to get right into it. But as we get started today, I think there's one really important part of of your story. And as I've prepared for this interview that I think can kind of set the stage for everything that we're going to talk about, and that is that you talked about how when you were young, your mom told you that you could have a personal relationship with God. And that that was kind of something that you set out to do was to create this personal relationship with with our Heavenly Father. What did developing that relationship look like for you? And why was it so significant that your mom said that? What do you think made that had such an impact?
Yeah, it all happened one family home evening. You know, as a mom, you have families and you hope you just have one good one. And this was one good one, and I was about 11 years old. And my mom asked a question. And she said, What is the guarantee back home to Heavenly Father?
And we raised her hand and said, Give me advice. And mom says, Oh, that's really great start to the covenant path. But it's not a guarantee. And we were like, Oh, I know, serve a mission. Also really great. Not a guarantee. And we're like, oh, oh, we got it, raise your hand. Go to the temple. And mom said, also really great part of the covenant path, but not a guarantee. And then you just like as a kid, you have this moment of like, oh my gosh, there is no guarantee. She was No, no, there is a guarantee. And she's like, it's a daily personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And you're like 11, so what does that mean? And she said it's going to be through the PJs, which was just an acronym for prayer, journal, and scriptures. And she's like, every night, when you put on your PJs, I want to remember to your PJs, you're gonna write a journal, say your prayers and read your scriptures. And that will help you develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. You know, and, and I the kid that was the rule follower, you know. And so my mom gave me a journal that night, and I started and at first I thought, this is really simple. Like, I would write about, like eating ramen and jumping on the trampoline, like shopping with my friends, like really dumb, insignificant things. And then I would just read a few verses of scripture. And then I would say a prayer where I prayed that I could have a great day, every day of my life and never get hurt, like, you know, they're normal prayers. And then I was like, Okay, I did it, check, check, check. That was it. Like, that's a big guarantee but what happened was, as I got older, I started to have problems. Like I remember I was in ninth grade when my best friend decided she didn't want to be my friend anymore. And then all of a sudden, I'm not writing about like silly day to day stuff...my heart is actually sad. And then when I read my scriptures, it wasn't just like I'm going to read a couple verses before I go to bed randomly. It was like, I'm struggling with this problem, Oh, Christ actually had a time when his friends betrayed him. And then when you say your prayers, it's not just may we never get in an accident. It's like, I'm having a problem. And then you have something specific to pray about. It was essentially like, this pattern of gospel application at like a very young age. And what was so amazing is that I would write down a problem. And sometimes it would be that night, and sometimes it would be a few days later, and sometimes it'd be months later. But I would eventually come up with a solution. And so this pattern that my mom taught me of daily writing, and this is the thing I think. I think in the church, we talk a lot about prayer and scriptures. But I don't hear enough writing is like a part of it. And the reason I'm such a journal fan is because it allows you like to look at your life from a bigger perspective. It's just so easy everyday to be in the minute and the now. And I think that sometimes we save our prayers till we're tired and going to bed. And we're just everything is just in that moment. But writing allows you to look at things from a higher plane. And so, this pattern shaped my life.
Because what I realized one day was that the journal I was making was another testament of Jesus Christ. Because I myself, Jenedy Paige, wrote down a question. And then I had proof in that book that got answered. Jenedy Paige, like, he was listening to me, I was like, you know, when you're in school, and I was really academic growing up, like we learned the scientific method, right? This was like, experimenting upon the Word. And it wasn't just a theory anymore. Like, I had proof that God could hear me. So this pattern has shaped my entire life. And it even shaped how I became an artist. Because like, I didn't have a lot of ability growing up, like people are always like, surely you've been doing this? Didn't you? Did you know when you were five that you're going to be a artist? No, no, I didn't. I played the piano and studied for school. And then it was the end of my junior year of high school, my dad said that we are going to be moving. And I felt...when he said that you just see like your senior year explode in your mind. And mom said, No, we know everything we're asking you to give up. We know this is a big deal. So you can stay, I was living in Utah at the time, you can stay in Utah, finish your senior year, live with my grandma. Or you can move and we're gonna let you make this decision.
Now, being a mom, I think, holy cow, that was a lot of trust she put in me as as a 17 year old, but I knew what to do, because she had already given me the pattern. So I wrote about it, I prayed about it. I read my scriptures about it. I really didn't want to move. Like it was one of those times 'Dear Heavenly Father, please help me know what to do. Can I please stay in Utah.' But then eventually, one day, He had me write down. He asked me this question like, What do you want? And I actually have this in a journal here. But it says, I want to be a mother. I want to be married in the temple. I want to write a book. I think that's fascinating that I wrote that, but I want to write a book. And then how my father was like, well, which of those things can't you have if you move to Colorado, and I kind of felt like, I guess I could probably still do all of those things. And then He had me make a list of all the good things of staying in Utah, all the good things about moving to Colorado. The list for staying in Utah was huge, just like dating possibilities was like a big important thing to me. And then moving to Colorado, there was only one thing on there. And it was my family. And I saw like Student Body Government and choirs and bands and boys and jobs and all this on this list. And then I saw my family on this list. And like I knew in that moment that was more important than everything else. And so I moved. And it was my like Nephi leaving everything behind and going off with my family into the wilderness experience. And I wrote in my journal. It's so fun for me to go back now and read it because I feel like a different person now. And this is like, I'm reading my 17 year old version of myself and my seven year old version myself makes me cry because she says, I'm making this big move and it's so hard but I trust the Lord with my life. And it was so beautiful because I move. And all of a sudden I'm at this new school and up to this point, I just wanted to be valedictorian, and get a full ride to college. And so I go, and I talk to the counselor, and I'm like, This is what I want. I want all the AP classes, I want all the honors classes. And she was like, sweetheart, we actually don't, we don't do any of that here. And I was like, What am I gonna do with my senior year? And I looked at the list, and I was like, like, I'll take art. And so that move, where I made that decision, because of this pattern that my mom taught me for receiving revelation, led to me becoming an artist. So like, my life would definitely not be the same without this pattern that my mom taught me at a very young age.
Morgan Jones Pearson
That's amazing. And I think such a great, there's so many things that we could unpack from that. My mom was also a big advocate of journaling, I go back and read my journals, and I'm like, Who is this kid? I had an Anne of Green Gables journal. And for some reason, I think that made me feel like I needed to be like Anne in all of my writing. And so it gets a little weird. But I think it also, like you said, the older you get, the more it's like you're processing things and trying to figure things out. And I feel like this is such a good reminder for me to prioritize journaling. So thank you so much for that. I want to come back to art and the role that that's played for you. But I want to tell you, one of the reasons that I wanted to reach out to you is because you lost a child in a drowning accident, and I recently learned of your story. And I had some family friends who have recently lost their own child, also in a drowning accident. And I guess from a distance, I've just felt like, you know, what could I do? Like, is there anything that I could do? And when I saw the video that you put together where you shared that experience, I was like, Well, maybe if I could talk to her and have her share the things that you've learned, it could be helpful, maybe in some way to others who are going through that same very unique form of grief. And so I wondered if you could maybe share a little bit about that experience and what you would say to other parents who are going through what you've gone through.
Yeah, so I got married in 2005. We spent several years in California together and then we moved to Tucson, Arizona so my husband could get an MBA, and we moved in with my parents because there was no way we could afford an MBA without assistance. And they had a pool and the day we moved in my mom was like I'm so nervous, Jenedy, we have a pool, you have two little boys at the time. I had a victory Morgan was my oldest, he was three and then I had Benson True who was one. And I was like Mom it's fine. You've got alarms on your doors, you got the fence, you've got all these precautions, like it's going to be okay. And it was okay for a little while. And then one morning, there's kind of a perfect storm and my son fell in the pool. And it's like the morning that stays in your mind in perfect clarity forever. I was like feeding my 15 month old breakfast. My mom had this little patio, and it was fenced off. And my son Morgan was outside playing. And all of a sudden my mom comes in from working in the yard. She's like, where's Morgan? I was like, isn't he outside on the patio playing, and then, you know, leads you into panic mode. And then we found him and he was resuscitated. And we then spent seven weeks in the hospital. It was tremendously difficult as you can imagine, and in Morgan's case, he was in a coma, like a medically induced coma for a week or so just because they wanted to give him a minute for everything to heal. And he was intubated at this time. And then I'll never forget the day that he was extubated, when they take the breathing tube out and and took him off of the drugs to bring him out of the coma, because I was waiting for him to sit up in his hospital bed and just say, Mom, I fell in the pool like Let's go home. And instead, he started something which is called sympathetic storming. So he damaged his basal ganglia, which is like the control center in your brain. This is normal for hypoxia victims, but with sympathetic storming your sympathetic nervous system which is kind of like your fight or flight response goes nuts and so it kind of looks like a seizure like everything flexes and his heart rate would go super high and his respiratory rate would go super high. And it was kind of like running a marathon for him for like, they started out like 20 minutes. And then the storm would pass, and he would pass out in exhaustion. And this was like a pattern that would repeat, the storm would come, the storm would pass, the storm would come. But what happened is the storms got longer and longer hours, that I would be standing there and is at his bedside. And there's nothing you could do. I mean, they would try to give valium and morphine and just all the drugs and nothing could stop the storms from coming. And so I had these really tender experiences late at night, when sometimes it was just me in the hospital room, holding his hand as he's going through one of these storms. And I think God was giving me a little bit of education into like the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and what it was to like, watch his son suffer. So there were these really sacred moments that happened at that time.
But all along the whole time he's in the hospital. What did I do when I wasn't holding his hand when he was sleeping, you know what I was doing? I was doing my PJs, I was writing in my journal, I was reading my scriptures, and I was praying. And I was literally just waiting for a miracle. Because I knew God could do it. I knew He could. And so I just I was fine waiting. If it took weeks, if it took months, if it took years, I would just say okay, I can be patient. I know He's capable. But then the storms got to be—the last one was 48 hours. So two straight days, and his body couldn't handle it. And he passed away. I say the word disappointed, but it doesn't seem to have enough weight behind it to describe like how I really felt because I was like "Heavenly Father, what? No! I was the faithful mother. Like, I've been reading all of the stories about the faithful mothers, and you rescue their children. And I was waiting for you to rescue my child. And this isn't how the story is supposed to go." And so I was severely disappointed and I remember writing in my journal, and just being like, 'Heavenly Father, you told me I was supposed to liken the scriptures under myself. Well, I don't see my story in the scriptures. Like, where's the mom who has all the faith? And then you're like, sorry, nope, your son's still gonna die.' And then I'm very—you'll find in this interview today—I'm very honest with God, probably to a fault, probably need a little more respect sometimes in how I addressed Him, but I just laid it out there and and in that moment when I was like, where's my story, He very patiently and calmly said, 'Jenedy, what about my son? Sometimes people have to die and I'm so sorry. But sometimes people have to die.' And I was just like, 'Okay, I guess you're right. Okay. But like, where do we go from here?' Because, like I told Him, I had all the faith like I had so much faith. He reminded me like, generally what takes more faith? Getting what you want or continuing on when you don't? And you're just kind of like, well, yeah, I guess the other one takes more faith. Okay, well, where do we go from here? I wrote in my journal. This is like the Grand Canyon. I mean, okay, I know I've been reading my whole life Jesus Christ is the healer of results. But like, this is the Grand Canyon. We're talking about this isn't like a little cut. This is like my heart has been literally erupted into a canyon and like, I don't know, if this can ever go away, you really think this can go away altogether? Like I'm not sure it's ever gonna happen. But He said He could. And so I figured, you know, I'd give Him the benefit of the doubt. And I would just keep going and so I just, I just kept showing up every day Morgan, I just kept writing in my journal. During that time, art became such a powerful source of healing for me. I would get up at 4 a.m. When my toddler was sleeping, and I go into my studio and I would do my PJs. I do them in the morning not at night but I'm usually still my PJs anyways, but it's the other end. But I would go and I do my PJs and then I'd paint. And I would cry. Oh, man, just any mother out there who's listening knows, it's like the most sad pathetic thing because you hurt so much and you don't know what to do with it. And so I would take black paint. And I would load it up really thin with Gamsol, which is the paint thinner. And then I would just let it drip across the canvas and I would just like watch it fall and it somehow made me feel a little bit like the pain was commiserating with me. And then it was so beautiful, because at 7am, my toddler would wake up, and I'd have to just close that book, close the door, take a deep breath and go be a mom, you know? And so that's kind of like, how I was just getting through. And to be honest, you are numb for like six months, I feel like at least in my experience that the Lord when you go through something like that He kind of hooks you up to like some spiritual morphine, you get like a nice little drip going. And like my son passed away in Tucson. But we buried him in Ogden, because my husband was in grad school, like we didn't know where we're going to be. And my mom actually had lost her brother to water. And he was buried in in Ogden, Utah. And so we're like, well, let's go bury him next to my uncle. And so we have to, we put his casket in the back of my 4Runner, and we drove him to Utah, for his burial. And I will never forget that, right? Because talk about peace that passeth all understanding, like, I've got my toddler in the backseat. And then I've got a casket in the backseat, and you're just like, How is this even happening in any world right now. But at the same time, I remember looking over my husband and being like, do you feel that? It's probably because he was in the car with us to be honest, but I was like, How do you feel okay, now, like, it's passes all understanding that I'm kind of okay right now. Well, like I said, that was like partially spiritual morphine. So six months goes by, and then all of a sudden, it's like, Okay, God, it's time we're gonna have to take you off this, this medication. And so then you go through like this experience, where all of a sudden, you've kind of been in this, like this fog. And then like, all the dust settles, and then you look at your life, and you're like, 'Oh, my gosh, I am so messed up right now. Like, I'm so broken.' And that time was like, really hard for me. And a couple of years go by I have two more kids. I have Honor and Joy and good things happen. You know, it's not like you're living in like sorrow, like every day. But I realized after having my other two kids and kind of moving on that I had serious issues. Still, it was like five years after the fact, because I'd see my kids outside playing and all of a sudden, I'd have this crippling anxiety that anything could happen. Because prior to this experience, I lived in Eden, I lived in this perfect little bubble, and I was immune to everything. It was really fantastic. But then, once you experienced trauma, you're like, oh, my gosh, I am no longer immune to drama. trauma can happen to me and my children at any moment. And so I thought, How am I going to deal with this? I can't be a helicopter mom. Like, I'm gonna have to learn how to let some things go. And so I started reading about it and thinking, how could I paint this? One thing I failed to tell you earlier is that when I signed up for those art classes, my senior year, the thing that really got me into art was a art journal. And my high school art teacher was like, I want you to just write how you feel, I want to create an image or pain about it. And I had like no ability to draw at the time. So I like just collaged it a lot. But moving forward, I basically still art journal right? So I art journal, like those grief paintings after my son passed away. And now as I'm in this new stage of how do I deal with this PTSD and this anxiety, I'm painting about it. And I decided to do this painting of a woman holding on to a black balloon, like really tight. And the painting is called "Let Go." Because I was actually doing my hair one day. And as I'm going through this process of wondering how I'm going to portray this feeling I have and my kindergardener walked in dragging a black balloon behind him that he had got from the dollar store. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I saw that image. This is how I feel like every day, I'm like dragging this black balloon around with me everywhere I go. And so I hired a model and I did this shoot. And while I'm working on this painting, I know I'm going to title it, let go. And I look up that phrase in the scriptures and it takes me to the Old Testament to where animal sacrifices...you've heard of like scape goats. So it said that there'd be like two animals presented, one would be sacrificed and the other would be let go. And all of a sudden, I felt like God was trying to tell me something like, Jenedy, my Son has already covered this. So you can really let it go.
And then I also was led to the Book of Mormon and Third Nephi. And I realized, you know, for the first time how many times I read 3 Nephi so many times, but all of a sudden, I now see through the lens of grief, and like, all of these people have just lost somebody that they loved. Right? Like, there was weeping and wailing and darkness and sorrow, because all of the destruction and I'm sure tons of people died. And then Christ comes in, you know what he says, he says, I need you to sacrifice your broken heart. And like, I've read so many as before, but now it was like, you want me to? You want me to sacrifice my broken heart? Oh, my gosh, like, you want me to take all this grief that I feel and somehow I'm supposed to put it on the altar. And that's a really scary thing to do. You know why? Because Satan tells you that when you lose someone that grief that you feel, that sorrow that I told you about, like that wailing in my art studio 4am feeling tells you that you loved them. And that somehow, if you're not doing that every day for the rest of your life that you have forgotten, and you no longer love them, you know, like don't let this go. If you let this go, you don't love your son anymore. And the truth is, that's a lie. It's a lie that Satan tells you to keep you there in that space, you know, right. And so I was like, Well, how do I even do this? Like, what is the physical act of like placing this grief on the altar? I honestly don't even know. Because all I can say is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You give it to Him, somehow He takes it I don't even know how He does. But He does. And like, I found that I started to feel lighter. And that miracle that you hear about, that amazing grace, the thing everybody's singing about in church on Sunday, you realize it's actually a very real thing, and that He actually can do everything that He says that He is capable of doing.
And so what is my advice for parents out there that have gone through this horrific thing? First of all, my heart aches for you. I wish I could just hug you any friend, any person I've ever met that has gone through it, you just hold them and tell them it's okay to cry, and it sucks. But then I tell them, what do you do? You turn to Jesus Christ, I have no better answer for you. He is the only one that can perform that uncomprehensible thing. And you know, it's amazing that Grand Canyon I told you about, you actually brought it together. And not only did He bring it together, He took all those shattered pieces. And he put them together like stronger, better than they were before.
Morgan Jones Pearson
So amazing. I cannot, you said you can imagine. I actually can't. And I'm not a mother yet. And so I know that a mother's love is something that I can't even comprehend to this point. But I so appreciate you sharing your experience and the way that you've shared it not just in this podcast, but you've shared it on your Instagram and through your art. And I know that it has to mean so much to so many people. And so thank you for turning your grief into something beautiful. Jenedy, when you were starting out as an artist, you had a mentor who referred to you as a real art ninja. Can you tell me a little bit about this mentor and the impact that the mentor made on your life and then maybe you can transition us from there into how you became a real art ninja.
Okay, so first let me preface that by saying I have had so many mentors in my life. I didn't really get to tell you earlier but I had no art talent and I really am the product of a great art education. I first went to BYU-Idaho and I studied with a man named Leon Parson who changed my life. Also a man named Wade Huntsman and then post college I've studied with all these professionals...I am the product of others. Okay, but I had been painting for about 12 years. When I was in my studio one day, and this thought came to me and and it was, you need to be better at this. I was like, I know. I know, how did I get here? Well, I'm the product of a great art education. So I decided I need to go back to school. So I applied to a master's programs, and was accepted to Laguna College of Art Design in California. And my husband is amazing. And was like, Yeah, let's move our three kids to Southern California and you could do a master's degree. And I said, I art journal, right? So I had all these questions. And I did this painting called waiting for answers where this girl like just craning her neck, like looking up at the sky. Because I felt like every day, I was just like, Okay, no, I need to get better. Like, I'm taking the steps to try to get better, but like, how am I gonna afford to live in Southern California? And who's gonna watch my kids? And I have so many [questions]. And like, if you could just answer me, it'd be really great because my neck starting to hurt, you know. And so that painting called waiting for answers I had started. At that time, I got another painting, the one I told you about earlier with the black balloon into a national show in Ohio. And so I flew out for that show. And while I was there, I met this man named William Whitaker. And I told him like, first of all, let me say, his art is amazing. And I had followed him like, his whole career, and just meeting him. I was totally starstruck. And I was like, yeah, and guess what, I'm gonna get better at it. You know how? I'm gonna go get a master's degree. And he looked at me and he was like, if I were you, I would do that. And I was like, Are you serious? Because I already paid like a down payment on my tuition. Like, why would you do that? And he's like, Well, if you want to teach, or we're going to university, get the master's degree, he's like, but if you really want an art education, you should come study with me full-time.
And I was like, come again, like, what was that? And this man, invited me to come be his apprentice and study with him. It changed my life forever. And guess where he lived? Provo, Utah. Yes, he did. So I didn't even have to move. So it was so beautiful because I took that painting "Waiting for Answers" that I had started and actually finished it in his studio, which I just love how the Lord works. So anyways, I've been painting with Bill and we had two easels side by side. He went several times a week and and he would just start saying, like, Jenedy, you're not like those fakers. Here's like you're a real art ninja. I would look over him and be like, what? Okay, like, I guess I'm flattered. But like, what? And it wasn't just one day, it was like all the time. Generally, here's like a real art samurai. And I just, I don't know where this is coming from. Because at this point in my life, I could not do a pull up. Okay. Like, I was not a professional athlete. He just called me it. And so one day, I was like, Bill, why are you calling me an art ninja? And he's like, Oh, I used to watch these, like the samurai films in the 50s. He was 74 at this point at the same and he's like, and there was this one movie where like the villagers had to decide who are the real ninjas and who are the fakers. And you're like a real art ninja. He was a funny guy anyways, but I just like, Okay, well, Bill passed away unexpectedly in March of 2018. And I was devastated. He was like, my favorite person. And I had spent so much time with him. He'd become like a father figure to me. And that was like so hard. And my husband you know, being very, very supportive and sweet was like Jenedy, all jedis must finish their training without their masters.
So anyways, fast forward six months and my brother invites me to go to a climbing gym with him. I've never been into a climbing gym before he had a free pass. We went bouldering and I went one time and was totally addicted. Like, did you know climbing rocks in a bouldering gym are called problems. And that you could go and like face your problems at the climbing gym. I love that. I was not great. I started out at like the very beginner climbs like everybody else did. But I didn't care. I made it to the top of my problem that day and I didn't care if it was easy problem. I conquered my problem. So I came home I told my husband I know what I want for my birthday. I need a pass to the climbing gym and I need climbing shoes. And so I started climbing regularly. Well, I'm like a solid three months into that climbing experience. Well I'm at the gym one day and I had this feeling and that's one thing that mentor taught me. He used to say this like everyday generally follow your feeling. Follow your feeling. I got this feeling and it was you should apply for American Ninja Warrior. And I was like, No. And that's crazy. My husband and I, we're big fans of the show, but we would sometimes look at each other like watching the show and be like, did you ever do that? Would you ever do that? No. And so to have that feeling was like, no. But then every time I went climbing, this feeling came back. You should really just apply. Oh my gosh, no. And then it came in. And this is one thing I would like to stress and that is that God is a persistent person. Like, thank heavens, He is persistent. Because most times when I have feelings I don't agree with I just say straight up. No, thank you. And this is another funny thing. People sometimes say like, how do you, Jenedy, know He's talking to you? Well, I don't often argue with myself. Okay, so usually I know it's coming from elsewhere, because I don't agree with it. Well, one day, I was driving home from the climbing gym. And you know, when you have a moment where you're alone, and it's quiet, even if it's like in a car, you like seize that opportunity. So I'm literally parked at a red light, or stopped at a red light. And I was just like, I just keep thinking about it. Okay, Heavenly Father. I'm almost like laughing like asking this because it seems just so out there. But like, am I right? Do you okay? Are you trying to tell me? Do you want me to go an American Ninja Warrior? And it was like, yes. Oh my gosh. Like I said, I was like, well, I have no idea why. They're not gonna let me on. I've never been in a ninja gym before. There's no way they're going to invite me to be on the show. But you want me to apply? I've trusted you in the past. I'll trust you forever. In the future. I will apply. So I did. After I applied I told my husband, I don't think they'll ask me like invite me to be on the show. Because I have no ninja experience. But like what if they did? What if they called me?
I should maybe take classes. You think I should take classes. So I signed up to take ninja classes. And do you know who takes ninja classes? 15 year old boys. Okay, so I was a 34 year old mom walking into a gym. And at this point, the closest gym to my house was an hour away, it was in Salt Lake, I had a drive through rush hour traffic to get there and I show up and then you just you're so overwhelmed. You can't do anything in this room. Okay. And one of the first things like one of the first solid ninja obstacles they teach you is to swing on a bar, like a steel bar above your head and then go catch a bar that's like six feet away from you. And I'm like five foot seven. And so like I'm swinging on this bar, and my feet aren't even coming close to touching the other bar and you're like, wait, I'm supposed to physically somehow, like launch my body through the air and then go grab this bar. And then so that seems impossible. But then you're swinging and then you don't get it. And then your coach who's also 18 is like, you know what you need to do you need to throw that bar behind you. And I'm like, Do you realize that bar is stationary, okay, how am I supposed to like throw that behind me? Anyways, I would go and I would try. And I finally you know what I did? I touched it. And then I was like, Oh my gosh, I thought that was impossible. And now wait, it's possible. And so what's been so beautiful in this whole thing is that I realized that I set this like what is Jenedy capable of? Very small okay, this much. But God sees such a huge, we are so capable. We are children of God. Like there's nothing we can do. And if there's anything that this ninja journey has taught me it is that and I'll tell you what, I got bruises, so many bruises. There were times driving home from the ninja gym and my hands hurt so bad like I could. I could hardly hold the steering wheel. And I'd be like, Lord, this is dumb. I don't know why we're doing this. I'm getting hurt. This is my moneymaker right here. This my right hand. See this is what I make money with. And you're having me throw this into metal bars. I'm not sure why.
Anyway, so I have three months of climbing experience. And then I have three months of ninja training. And I get a call from LA producer to come compete on the show. And I told my husband, oh my gosh, this just got real. Like I have to go compete on like television, like with producers and stuff. So the whole time I'm thinking, Why is God asking you this? You know what I honestly thought I thought he wants me to share my story about loss. Just like I did today on the podcast. He wants to put me on like a national stage to share my story. That's beautiful. I think it's this tangent in my life where he's like, testing my faith going to have me do a hard thing. I'll get to share my testimony, and then I'm going to go back to painting. Okay, that was what I thought in my head. Well, I go, I had that beautiful experience sitting in a green room telling the producers what I just told you. They were all crying. I was crying. We hugged, we connected. And then I went and I got on that stage and you don't get to try anything like there's no like 'Hey, this is what you can try it.' No, it's like, first time you're touching that obstacle is when they're filming you. And if you've never seen the show, you have like five big obstacles, then you have a warped wall, okay? By some miracle, I made it to the fourth obstacle, which as a rookie, and a mom is usually like a shoo in to get you on primetime. Because usually they have like, maybe 80 competitors, and maybe like 30 will actually get aired on NBC. But I made it to the 4th obstacle and I'm like that's it. That's all I had to do. Like, that's enough. Like I did well enough. Like, I don't know how I made it that far but I did. And this is all going to happen, just like I imagined it would. Well, then I get an email a little bit later. And it's like, Jenedy, you did really great. But we don't have time for you in our show. So sorry. And you're like, but it's going to be like it never even happened? Why did I do that? So then you pray. And then God's like, Well, Jenedy, what if you had a whole other year. And then I was like, Oh, I'd probably get better. So then I just kept going, I just kept showing up and learning and taking it one obstacle at a time and getting better. And then I was able to compete in well, they invited me in 2020, we got shut down like the night before production. And then I competed in 2021. And then it competed this year in 2022. And you want to know something they've never aired my run. And just this year, it's all kind of like because you're thinking, why did the Lord send me here? Why? Wait, it's not going like I thought it was? Well, this year God has directed me to combine the things that I've learned with Ninja like with my art and I'm working on a series right now like strong women. And he's taught me so much through this whole process of becoming a ninja. And I'm so excited about it. Because do you know how muscles grow Morgan, they have to experience trauma. Your muscles literally have to be torn in order to come back together strong. And that's just one of the symbols that I've learned in this journey. And so he's now leading me it's so funny because it was just this year that he was like, oh, Jenedy, you sweet girl. You thought I was just leading you on this little moment. You're going to go on this like little field trip to American Ninja Warrior. And then like, go back to your life. You know, kind of like how Peter's like, Well, that was a good time gonna go fishing now, you know like that? No, no, he was actually he needed me to become a different person. Like, he needed me to become a ninja. Forget TV. No, he needed me to learn all these lessons, so that I could then incorporate them and they are and hopefully inspire and encourage other people.
Morgan Jones Pearson
It's amazing. Well, I, I want to encourage people. Jenedy has talked a lot on this interview in this interview about writing and if you visit her website, which is just JenedyPaige.com, if people visit that site, they will see that alongside all of your art pieces you have written up, you know, kind of what inspired you or the meaning of the piece. And then you also have a section where you talk about this experience on American Ninja Warrior. And I just think you did such a good job of expressing yourself in writing. And I think it gives people even greater insight into who you are and where your heart is. And so I wanted to on this episode, talk a little bit about some of your different art pieces. But I will just leave it at encouraging people to go and check out the art themselves and then read some of what you've written because I spent like a couple of hours preparing for this interview. And I just loved getting to see all of your beautiful art and reading your thoughts about those pieces. So thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I feel like I've learned so much and I feel inspired to be better myself in a couple of different areas. So thank you so much for that. My last question for you is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
For me, it means that you are 100% committed to your relationship with Jesus Christ, your own personal relationship that you have with Him. And that means you're going to show up every day, every morning or every night, whatever you choose whenever you decide to do your PJs. But you're going to show up and you're going to have a moment with him. And in that moment, you're going to write what you're dealing with all your heartache all your questions. All your joys, all your victories, all your answered prayers then you're going to write about it, but you're going to talk about it. It's like a conversation. And He's going to direct you, and He's going to give you things to do. And because you're 100%, committed to Him and to this relationship, you are going to do what He asks you to do. Even if it's crazy, even if it's like, you're a mom, and I want you to compete on American Ninja Warrior. Because if you do this pattern, it will change your life, I promise, you will see miracles, you will see the hand of God, and you will gain your own testimony and witness another witness of Jesus Christ. And I just, I sometimes I look back, you know, a lot of times when I'm in the middle of a project, it feels like I'm in this fog. But hindsight is always so clear. And so it's funny for me sometimes to go through my journals, because I feel like I'll write things like, I have no idea what I'm doing. I can't see where this is going. I have no idea what the details are. And then every time I look back, I see nothing but God's hand over and over and over again, leading me in the way that He needs me to go. And then the other thing that happens as you develop that relationship with Jesus Christ, as you come to know Him, He teaches you who you are, and what you're capable of. And I promise, what you're capable of is way more than you currently think.
Morgan Jones Pearson
Well, I think that is profound. And I love I just want to highlight where you said, and you've said this a couple of times, but that you create another witness of Jesus Christ, another testament of Him and I think that is probably the most beautiful thing that we could do with our lives. And so Jenedy, thank you so much for taking the time to be with me for sharing your story and for making your life that another another testament of Him. Thank you. My pleasure, Morgan.
We're so grateful to Jenedy Paige for joining us on today's episode, be sure to check out JenedyPaige.com to see more of her art and to read her beautiful words. Big thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix At Six Studios for his help with this episode. And thank you so much for listening. We'll be with you again next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai