Here are my complete thoughts. Those who attended this weekend's Miss Virginia USA pageant may have seen a farewell letter. That letter was edited to protect the guilty, as I was told my original letter would not be printed. Here is the original letter. I am grateful for my year, but also strive to provide an honest reflection.
When charged to write this letter, I did not know where to begin. This year has not only been my most transformative, but also my most challenging. My integrity and character have been tested, my heart broken, and my expectations unmet. Initially hit with a painful left hook at every turn, those adversities quickly taught me to learn to bob and weave, strategizing for another option to achieve my goals.
I wish I could reflect on this year by sharing nothing but sunshine and rainbows, but that reflection would be untrue. This year has not been easy. I have learned that integrity is not a universal character trait, my true support system has been revealed, and I have learned to be selective in choosing my ‘inner circle’ in the process. However, despite those that seemed to be against my success, I knew I had God’s favor on my side and a stronger team of warriors providing support. For those who provided a safety net during my most vulnerable times (friends, family, confidants), I am grateful.
Juggling working full-time with being Miss Virginia USA and preparing for Miss USA was no easy feat. I experienced many sleepless nights, tearful conversations, sore muscles, and moments of utter exhaustion. When I approached my breaking point, my mother leaped in to save the day. Worried about appearing weak and unwell, I did not publicize the fact that she temporarily moved from Georgia to Virginia to stay and travel with me for the two months leading up to the Miss USA Pageant. In my most vulnerable moments, she was there to provide me the sanity, encouragement, and the type of love only a mother can bestow. Of all the blessings revealed to me this year (I have a blog post highlighting others), I count her as my greatest.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask of think, according to the power that worketh in us. . . “ Ephesians 3:20 KJV
While I have not spent my entire life studying God’s work, this year a friend gave me a book of daily devotions as a “just because” gift. This passage was the foundation of a recent devotion, and I have continuously replayed the phrase “exceeding abundantly” ever since, as the Lord continues to demonstrate this promise in my life.
Many assume that I have been competing in pageants my entire life, seeking success in the world of pageants since infancy. However, that assumption is not true at all. As a young woman who entered a pageant with only the intention of ending someone’s yearlong nagging, I could not have dreamt of the opportunities that would come my way, When asked how I have achieved success both professionally and in the world of pageants, the teachings of this verse are my only adequate response.
We, as only mere mortals, are not capable of conceiving the plans HE has for our lives. I couldn’t have dreamt of the opportunities the Lord had in store for me; had the plans been left up to my own imagination, I would have settled for a life of mediocrity. Part of the Lord’s promise is to produce miracles beyond measure, greater than anything that we ask or think.
As you journey through life, I encourage you to not only open your mind, but also open your heart to the blessings God has in store for your life. Pageants have served as a conduit for so many of my blessings. Blessings come in many forms—losses, heartache, and relationships both gained and lost. However, one fact that is certain is God’s ability to provide for His children in a way that “exceeds abundantly.”
Thank you for allowing me to share my truth. Thank you for allowing me to represent the Commonwealth.
Miss Virginia USA 2016