WASHINGTON – Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House Press Secretary, may be a fierce defender of President Trump but she's also fierce about a few other things too, namely love of country and most important of all, her relationship with Jesus Christ. Even though she has a significant job with a prestigious title, to better understand her path to the White House, you need to understand her overall view of life.
"I believe God put me in this place for a purpose and for a reason like he does with each and every life," McEnany tells CBN News. "We're all here for a reason."
On a daily basis, her purpose is to present, explain, and defend the president's decisions and policies. Her preparation shows, as she often turns the tables on a hostile media challenging the fairness, accuracy, and narratives of their stories.
Performing a Tough Job with God's Help
At just 32 years old, McEnany is one of the youngest ever to hold this position. While the Harvard Law graduate looks calm, cool, and collected behind the legendary podium, she tells CBN News it was a different story before her very first briefing. "I was in panic mode right before," she reveals. That led to an impromptu West Wing prayer session. "I was just rattled and extremely nervous and feeling a lot of anxiety. I called my mom and on speakerphone, my family and we all prayed together…and all of a sudden I took a deep breath and after those prayers, moved forward. I felt such strength, went in and talked to the president, and then walked out and did the job that only could be done if God was there helping you along the way."
Former Press Secretary a 'Wise Mentor'
She also got some help that day from former press secretary Sarah Sanders. "Sarah is a wise mentor," McEnany says. "In fact, that day when I was so nervous before the first press briefing, it was her texts that helped me quite a lot in that moment, because she sent me a 'Jesus Calling' devotional."
Raised in a Southern Baptist home and attending a Florida Catholic all-girls school, the call of Jesus has always been near. As a teenager, Kayleigh walked down the aisle of her church to give her life to Jesus Christ. Then, in her 20s something happened that deepened her faith even more.
"I was going through a hard time in New York and I was going to a great church in New York," she explains. "I remember feeling very lonely. It was when I first started my young professional life and I remember getting a call. I never answered numbers I didn't know but I answered that day, and it said, 'hey, this is the Journey Church. We feel like we need to pray for you right now, how can we pray for you?' It was at a distinct moment that I needed to hear from Christ and I felt that he communicated to me through my church and it's that moment I think my faith became even more real."
Faith to Overcome Adversity
That faith has helped Kayleigh deal with adversity, especially when she found out her mom and other women in her extended family carried a gene that makes breast cancer very likely. She got tested in college and then got a phone call. "It was close to Christmas Eve, it was right around that time and just crying because I got a call from the doctor saying you have this genetic mutation. I didn't know what to do with it."
For the next decade, Kayleigh considered prevention in the form of a double mastectomy but wanted to wait until she could go through it with a future soul mate. Enter Sean Gilmartin, whom she married in 2017. A year after their marriage vows, she took the pre-emptive plunge. "I had a nipple-sparing mastectomy and they removed my breast tissue." McEnany tells CBN News." I'm able to say today that I will never get breast cancer. My chances are like .001 percent because of that choice." To mark the occasion, she wore socks with bright lemons on them, reinforcing the message that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Ever since then, she's been in the lemonade-making business. She joined CNN as a conservative voice, outnumbered but standing her ground; became a top GOP official with the Republican National Committee, and was the top campaign spokeswoman for the 2020 Trump Re-election campaign. But the sweetest moment came with the birth of her baby girl. Blake, born in late 2019 joined mom on the campaign trail at times and has even made an appearance or two inside The White House.
Balancing Family and Career
For now, husband Sean plays the role of stay at home dad in Florida and her family, who lives nearby, pitches in, all while dealing with her high-stress day job. "It is a balance," she says, admitting that it's a tough sacrifice on all sides. "But I know at the end of the day, if I give Blake the same faith upbringing and relationship with Jesus Christ that my parents gave me, she will be an unstoppable woman of faith in whatever she decides to do."
Blake will have a pretty good role model on that front. For example, McEnany is always finding time for Jesus. Just recently, she led weekly Bible studies while with the Trump campaign. "We would pray and read the Word," McEnany said. "It just gave a little pep in our step because these days are demanding, they're challenging, they're long in politics, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, that's the nature of the job. It was a little rod of lightning, of just energy and joy in our day."
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These days, it's not always so joyful when she looks out into the briefing room. When asked if a strong conservative Christian woman supporting Donald Trump drives the media up a wall, she answers directly. "I think that's right. People are attacked for their faith, not just me, but Christian men and women across this country. It's unfortunate but I think we found a real voice in President Trump who stood for religious freedom and pro-life and [has] given us this boldness. It was at Harvard Law School when I felt attacked as a conservative and as a Christian that I realized it was that megaphone and that kind of boldness we needed and that kind of fighter we needed to represent the Christian community."
This leads us to McEnany's life here and now for this role of a lifetime. And while she works for the commander-in-chief, she ultimately plays to an almighty audience of one. "My mission in life is that when I pass that He will look at me and say, 'well done good and faithful servant,'" she said. "If I can end my life that way, it doesn't matter what the people say on the way there."
WATCH the FULL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: White House Press Sec. Kayleigh McEnany