Artist Jenedy Paige knows a thing or two about strength; she’s competed in American Ninja Warrior four times. But in the following excerpt from the All In podcast, she shares that the greatest strength in life comes from a relationship with Christ—a relationship she came to rely on when her three-year-old son died due to a drowning accident.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Could you maybe share what you would say to other parents who are going through a drowning tragedy?
Jenedy Paige: 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 once you experience trauma, you’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I am no longer immune. 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. I’m going have to learn how to let some things go.’ So I started reading about it and thinking, How could I paint this? …
I was doing my hair one day as I’m going through this process of wondering how I’m going to portray this feeling I have, and my kindergartener walked in dragging a black balloon behind him that he had from the dollar store, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is how I feel every day. I’m dragging this black balloon around with me everywhere I go.’ I decided to do this painting of a woman holding on to a black balloon, like really tight, [and] while I’m working on this painting, I know I’m going to title it, “Let go.”
I look up that phrase in the scriptures and it takes me to the Old Testament [and] animal sacrifices. … It said that there’d be 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.’
I also was led to the Book of Mormon and 3 Nephi. I’d read 3 Nephi so many times, but all of a sudden, I now see through the lens of grief. And all of these people have just lost somebody that they loved. … And then Christ comes in [chapter 9] and he says like, ‘I need you to sacrifice your broken heart.’ I’ve read that so many as before, but now it was like, ‘You want me to sacrifice my broken heart? Oh my gosh, you want me to take all this grief that I feel and somehow I’m supposed to put it on the altar.’ …
How do I even do this? 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. 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.
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 … Then I’d 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 incomprehensible thing. … He took all [my] shattered pieces and He put them together stronger, better than they were before.