Grace has seen herself in a mirror with no mercy. It was awkward. It was painful.
“I see what they see,” she admits to herself, “and it isn’t pretty”. That admission knocks her to her knees.
“Doing this isn’t mandatory,” her parents remind her, “no one will think any less of you if you don’t.”
Her mother longs to tell her daughter that none of it matters! Not the numbers, the sizes, the thoughtlessness or the stares. For none of it matters to those who know and adore her child for who she is inside. But, she can’t say that because it matters to way to many in this world.
Grace prays, “Holy Father what is your will? I see the truth Lord, I am no beauty queen.”
“My grace is sufficient for you,” the scripture rises in her heart. “Do not forget my glory is your strength.”
Drawing a deep breath Grace rises to her feet. “Quitting would be so much easier,” she admits to herself, “and I am tempted.”
The seconds pass and Grace feels each tick of the clock in her blood. She remembers the scriptures and the fear departs her heart. “I am seeing this through Mom. This time, I won’t back out, I won’t look away. I will hold my head up and say, yes, this is me. This is all of me, beauty, warts and all and I am okay, I am beautiful, I am me!“
Grace’s mother watches as her daughter’s spine straightens, her shoulders draw back and her chin rises. “We’ll cover this with prayer,” her mother says embracing Grace tenderly.
The night of the pageant arrives and Grace is already tired. “The interviews were nerve wracking,” she confides to her father, “I have no idea how I did.”
With a soft kiss on her forehead, careful to not smudge her makeup, he said, “Your mother and I are proud of you Grace, God is the most pleased though. Most would have given up but not you. You would have in the past but you are facing this head-on with courage. Your conviction that you have just as much to offer as any one else is right. Regardless of the outcome, we love you and you are right.”
In the audience Grace had more than her allotted ten family members and friends cheering for her, way more. Everyone made to feel less than acceptable because of their outward appearance was rooting for her. Everyone who had felt their cheeks burn in embarrassment when the whispers were meant to be heard was whispering a prayer for Grace to win. Every nerd, every geek, every socially isolated teenager still alive in adult bodies willed Grace a win. To a few dozen complete strangers Grace became their champion.
The judges marked their ballots, scores were added up, the moment of decision was upon them. On stage Grace prayed silently, “God thank you for tonight, for being able to feel like a beauty queen regardless of whether I win or lose.”
Grace’s name was not called. Leaving the backstage area she was stopped repeatedly by those who had felt her their champion.
“Dad, I am amazed by all these strangers who were telling me how they’d hoped I’d win.”
“I think you touched quite a few people Honey.”
As the crowd began to disperse Jeffrey Keller, one of the three judges approached Grace and her family. “Grace,” he said, “I want to tell you something. Your answer this afternoon I will never forget. It was honest, straight from your heart and impressive.”
To Grace’s parents he said, “You can be proud of your daughter, she has a great heart”. Then he turned and walked away.
“What did he ask Grace,” her mother asked?
“What this experience had shown me about me,” Grace told her. “I told them, that I am okay, I am beautiful, and I am me, I had God to tell me that regardless of whether I placed or won. And I said I was okay with that assurance.”
And she truly was.