Today’s post is a long one, but so important and timely considering state/national pageant season is right around the corner, believe it or not! If that doesn’t make your stomach do a little flutter of excitement, I don’t know what will!
But we all know pageantry isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and happy endings. It can be blood (those shoes hurt!), sweat (get to the gym, ladies!), and tears (when the going gets tough…) that can ultimately end in disappointment.
Pressing toward the Goal
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us…16 we must hold on to the progress we have already made. (NLT)
Now before you go and cry BLASPHEMER! at me, I’ll explain one thing first: I realize that what Paul is talking about in Philippines is of much greater importance and significance than winning a pageant. He’s talking about sharing the Gospel and bringing glory to God, living well and right as much as possible here on Earth. And I am not equating pageantry wins with heavenly prizes. But, I do believe for the Bible to be an active and living Word of God, relevant to us in our lives, it is useful to take passages like this one and apply its teachings and principles toward our current situation. And even if you are not Christian or aren’t sure where your beliefs lie, there is value in the lessons below for your pageant journey!
First, we note Paul saying “I have not achieved it.” And again, while his “it” is of exponentially greater significance, if you believe God has called you to find your purpose and make a difference through pageantry, then our “it” is of value and merit as well. And you can even find some of Paul’s “it” in your pageant quest by sharing your own relationship with Christ along the way. But our “it,” presumably, is achieving that title win: whether your goal is a local, state, or national one, that is your “it.” (still with me?!) And unless you have never lost a pageant, you have probably felt the sting of disappointment.
But while you have not yet achieved your goal, you can work on forgetting that defeat and looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead. In fact, I believe that the disappointments you face can either fuel you to continue pressing on and improving, or can serve as the very thing that brings you down.
The next verse referenced above reminds us to press on toward that goal or prize, for which God has called us. This is an interesting perspective for pageantry because it is so largely viewed as a superficial beauty “sport” if you will. But have you ever seen a pageant titleholder take the platform she has been given and really use it to live out her life’s calling? Someone who has found the why in her journey?
Take these two lovely young women with whom I have had the great pleasure of working. If Kelly Koch had not won Miss Iowa this year, she would still be an effective student and ambassador for her community. But how much more has she made an impact with her platform because of the title she holds? She responded to the calling in her life to use her position of influence as Miss Iowa to become the national ambassador for the Pinky Swear Foundation. She focused on the prize ahead and what she could achieve for her community if that goal was attained.
Or what about Kelley Johnson? She could have given up hope of winning a state title at any point in her two-year pageant journey. She felt the sting of defeat, but she made the choice to press on and do the work. Ultimately, her life has taken a completely different direction than it may otherwise have because she put past disappointments behind her, pressed on toward the goal to which she felt called, and used the platform she was given as Miss Colorado and a Miss America finalist to influence her community.
When you view pageantry as so much more than a crown and sash, your mindset shifts from “I didn’t win so I don’t want to do this anymore” to “I’m going to continue pressing on and working hard so that if or when the opportunity comes for me to gain influence and recognition that comes with holding a title, I will be ready and prepared to live out my life’s calling.”
Our final verse reminds us to hang on to the progress we have already made. When you feel defeat or face a loss in pageantry, it can feel so deflating! It can produce thoughts that you aren’t good enough, you didn’t make any progress, you aren’t cut out for this…etc. And whether or not you continue in your pageant journey is a personal decision. But one thing I want to emphasize is that while you can give up pageantry, you cannot give up on YOU.
No matter how far you go in pageants, you have made progress! Most people don’t enter a pageant without hopes of winning, and you can’t hope to win without at least a little preparation! And much of that preparation will be in the form of life skills, personal betterment, and friendships that will last you a lifetime.
One of the hardest parts of pageantry is remembering to not let your identity and self-worth be attached to the decision of 5 or 6 judges on one particular day. It is easy in your frustration to forget how far you have come! Focus on the good that has come out of your involvement in pageants, and never forget what you have gained.
And should you decide to forget the past, press on toward the prize, and remember how far you have come, focus on this great, wise philosopher’s teaching, our mantra here at MYM: