It was Rachmaninoff, and I cried…

I often get asked what my perspective on pageants are, now that it’s been almost 7 years since I held a title…
SUCH a loaded question.
Looking back, I see my pageantry path as one of Divine Tutoring. Really. It held amazing value in learning about beauty, articulation, carriage and refinement. I have been able to meet incredible women of all ages whom I’ve had the opportunity to coach and mentor, “judge” and direct women who have taught me priceless lessons about Life and myself. Hard lessons.
Pageants taught me that all women have an innate need not just desire, but need to have our beauty and voices honored and celebrated.
It also taught me that we should not judge anyone else’s journey to wholeness. If I had a dollar for every raised-eyebrowed woman who nonverbally communicated her disapproval of my choice to compete in pageants displacing the upstanding Christian wife and mother they once believed me to be I could probably retire.
I learned that when you get the go-ahead from God, that is all that matters. The voices of others simply must be drowned out when you embark on the True Path He has placed before you.
Even if that “True Path” involves throwing on a swimsuit and a pair of heels and marching out on stage. Such CAN be a spiritual journey for a woman of Christ…
Would I do it again? No point. As a 30-something, it was my divinely orchestrated course. As a 40-something, it’s not. I continue to do pageant coaching, but ONLY for those ladies who have gotten that go-ahead from the Heavens…and are doing it for the right reasons.
That worldly crown, I have discovered, is a total illusion
Too often I have seen beautiful and spiritually regal women walk away from a pageant competition feeling less-than, lacking and falling short…simply because they didn’t bring home some manmade, rhinestone-clustered $50 tiara. I see others searching for a worldly crown to somehow validate their worth. Or to garner the attention from those they can’t seem to get it from. Tragic.
My feeling is that God would have all of His daughters discern the priceless, eternal, invisible crowns that adorn our war-torn heads. By continuing to just look up.
All hell and a tornado broke loose the year I had the crown – it definitely wasn’t stacked with roses and parades. My husband lost his job, my son was diagnosed with Aspergers, my sister entered a rehab while I cared for two of her children, and then…that same sister took her life 3 weeks before I passed on my crown. So yes, the earthly crown is an illusion.
We all have spiritual titles that will never get validated through earthly competitions.
My almost 12-year-old daughter Savannah just started taking piano lessons from 2009’s Miss Utah, Whitney Merrifield. Whitney did a living room concert for Savannah and I in an attempt, I think, to give my Savannie a glimpse of what is possible. It was the piece she played at Miss America – the Miss America Pageant she “lost.”
It was Rachmaninoff, and I cried.
I cried because my sister loved Rachmaninoff when she was alive and I cried because my daughter was sitting next to me with wide-open eyes and a wide-open future and I cried because I love music and I love beauty…and I am moved beyond words by seeing both displayed through the willing hands of a gifted and lovely daughter of God.
Last Monday afternoon, Whitney was our Miss America.
The take-home gift I received from my time as Mrs. Utah is best described in an excerpt from “My Kingdom” by Louisa May Alcott.

I do not ask for any crown But that which all may win Nor seek to conquer any world Except the one within.

Be thou my guide until I find, Led by a tender hand, Thy happy kingdom in myself And dare to take command.

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