I have been able to win at the two-truths-and-a-lie game by including a statement that I was runner-up in a Miss Teen USA pageant. Maybe I should be insulted that people think that's a lie?
My junior high years took a serious toll on my self-esteem. Although I began my school years as an extrovert, I had become very fearful of rejection. My mother was reading the paper one weekend morning and found an ad for the area teen pageant, which extolled the virtues of participation, including more self-confidence.
For whatever reason, I let her convince me to enter the pageant and I set about conquering my fear of asking businesses to sponsor me. The pageant was scheduled for a Sunday and we had a bit of a drive to get to the church where it was being held. That morning I was listening to the radio while I was doing my makeup and a sermon was on. The pastor said, "The Lord stands with the losers of the world. Just when you are about to became a winner, God changes the rules." I thought that was a nice sentiment, but really didn't want to be a loser.
My mom, my aunt, and I got in the car and drove to the church. I am not sure if my mom took a wrong turn or if we were supposed to be driving on a gravel road, but I remember distinctly her mowing down a flock of chickens that were in her way. She didn't seem the slightest bit remorseful either! I was concerned that our bumper would be covered in blood and feathers.
Once at the church, I was happy to discover that there were only two of us entered in the pageant from my county. I figured I was a shoe in! But you already know that I took second place. As I went back to the prep room following the announcements, I was honestly feeling pretty humiliated. As I fought back tears, I remembered the sermon I'd heard. That's when my attitude completely changed. I really felt like God was standing with me. I was actually in a great mood! I probably teased my mom all the way home about her chicken massacre.
The following fall, I was in a high school speech class. Our assignment was to give a personal experience speech. I spoke about my experience in the pageant and how God had taught me what winning really means. After class, my teacher told me I needed to give that speech in competition. My sophomore year of high school, that's exactly what I did. Many times after giving that speech, other competitors would come up and thank me for sharing my experience and my faith. An extra bonus was the winning season I had.
Becoming a loser at a beauty pageant was the beginning of a speaking ministry that continues today. It was also the beginning of my understanding of God's ways. He has consistently used my failures and disappointments to change me and even to bless me. I have learned that when God stands with you, there is really no way you can lose.
This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. (Isaiah 48:17)