My name is Jenna Hays. The Pearl Project is the vision I have been entrusted with and I could not be more grateful for this adventure and how it suits all of my loves. My wildly adventurous husband, myself, and our two completely rad children live in Portland Oregon. Being a wife and a mom is my jam, and my passion for encouraging the women in my life is what fuels this vision. Especially my littlest woman, Emery.
To preface my introduction of the Pearl Project, I’d like to start by speaking to the lengths and the depths of gratitude that I have for the opportunity to begin a task such as this. The content of the Pearl Project is essentially a culmination of 10 years worth of studying, reading, mentoring, researching, discussing, apprenticing, outlining, writing, rethinking, undoing, praying, fasting, and resting… To be able to finally apply that work tangibly feels like one of the most meaningful things i’ve ever done in my life.
The long and short is that I lived a very personally damaging life for roughly 5 years in my late teens and early twneties. Albeit yes, I have learned a ton, and I have a much better appreciation and outlook now on life then I had back when my story was much less admirable. However, I do not see the “live and learn” slogan as adequate enough for me in the story of my life. I nearly ruined my entire life several times by choice (as irrational as that sounds), in some of the most deeply hurtful and sad ways imaginable.
I made fundamentally terrible choices for myself about my life because I was living life and seeing life through a fundamentally broken lens that was chalk full of half-truths. Half truths boiled down are lies, and I became a devout believer of those lies that when internalized, wreaked havoc upon my soul, my mind, my heart, and likely many people around me at that time. I was a specimen of hypocrisy, and completely unaware intellectually of what I thought or believed.
I was a Christian, if you asked me, but it would have been difficult to see any evidence of that in my life. I believed specific yet very subtle lies about who I am, what my value actually was, who God is and what part He played in my life, what the point of my life was, and how I was actually supposed to live and find meaning in day to day life. The catch of it all was that I genuinely loved God, and I genuinely sought out a relationship with Him as best as I knew how. In my mind I was doing my best spiritually, but I was failing in life.
What was I missing, and where did I go wrong?
Although I believe the Bible, over time I had begun to subconsciously layer in all sorts of beliefs that sounded or felt decent, some of which were well-meaning and seemingly harmless competing ideas, beliefs, conclusions, and interpretations (worldviews), as well as some that were just harsh and hurtful words, treatment, or experiences that I internalized deeply over time. These came in the form of rejection, humiliation, belittlement, accepting that I was too much to handle and that I wasn’t worth anything to anyone, to name a few of the emotional sort. Eventually these subtle partial-truths cracked my lens with which I viewed life- and it left a fragmented view of ALL things in my way to the point that what flowed from my mouth represented what was in my heart, and what was in my heart was not light.
This outpouring from my heart to my mouth effected everything: My family, my close relationships, unhealthy relationships, my health, my money, the authenticity of my life as a Christian, the legitimacy of faith, my own self-worth, my work, the way that I viewed or valued others etc. I was living out of half-truths that bred incredibly hurtful things in my life and I couldn’t even recognize it because I was so submerged in it. And I was in my early twenties so ‘nobody’ could tell me anything, sadly.
My worldview and how I applied it to my personal life threw off my entire life. And also just to be clear, I also just made some flat out stupid decisions that were not a result of me believing lies per se. Sometimes, I was just a moron on purpose. However, I have worked my way through all of the ramifications of those things now. The best and most critical part about that is that it took me SO many years, and so, SO much work, that the untangling of the strings of lies has actually become my academia and my deepest passion. Self-assessment from my view, has become an essential part of developing a sound mind, and I need that in order to be effective at just abut anything that matters to me.
The concept of Truth, therefore, has become of such significance and such tremendous importance in my life as a means of intellectual survival, for my emotional health, and for redeeming years worth of what felt like death to my spirit, my body, and my relationships. Truth has become the focus of my study and my free time, and in it I find such pure and wild freedom. The resources, the lessons, and the wisdom I have learned are what I am offering to anyone to whom they are useful…In particular, this is my aim with my children. I hope they find the Pearl Project to be a place of rest and refuge for their souls.
To Wrap It Up
Although moral relativism is the song of our generation, where truth is whatever you need or want it to be, people do not and cannot actually live that way as if there is no epicenter or foundation of truth. The statement that there is no truth is an absolute in and of itself. What I love about submerging my brain in scriptural resources is that behind every truth claim of God in Scripture, is the very reflection, the character, and the nature of God. I believe that truth is defined as ‘that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God.’
That truth claim is the basis of support for my personal studies and for this project. I have had many mentors, leaders, instructors, friends and guides to thank for assisting me on my journey into truth and life to the fullest. Many of those same people will be very much a part of the Pearl Project, and are as qualified and honorable as they come.
The goal is to offer up wisdom that I have been gifted with now that I did not have ‘back then,’ firstly to my children, and then for whatever other purpose it may serve beyond that. My relationship with God and with truth has changed my entire life from the inside out, and gave tangible weight to the meaning of “an abundant life.”