Every little girl dreams of wearing a crown. We want to be beauty queens and princesses and have our prince sweep us off our feet.
I was in pageants when I was little and one a few here and there. Then, I won my high school pageant during my senior year and earned a big, beautiful crown. It felt so good to have three random judges deem me the fairest of them all! I thought I’d certainly be Miss America in no time.
I spent the next few years of my life trying to get crowns wherever I could. Being Class President and Valedictorian felt like pretty big crowns, but I wanted more.
I entered college praying I left my over-achiever attitude in high school. As soon as I arrived on campus, I said, “I’m not joining any clubs or doing any extracurriculars. I’m just going to study and graduate.” HA. HA. HA. Anyone who knows me knows that is a JOKE.
Soon enough, I had joined all the clubs and was doing all the things. I went to the pageant the college hosted with my sorority sisters during my second semester. They all begged me to be in the pageant the next year, and since I looooove some affirmation, I obliged and prepared to compete for “Miss UNA” the very next year. Oh, and P.S., I didn’t have a talent. I could nail the interview in my sleep and walk across the stage with no fear, but my only talent was talking, so I used my cheerleading background and improvised. A friend of mine was an incredible dancer, so she choreographed a routine for me and I did what I could.
I did a James Bond-themed dance in a cute little outfit and used way too many finger guns. But the crowd went wild.
My friends held up “fat heads” of my face on sticks and people were chanting my nickname, “K Chap” over and over. I felt like I was on top of the world.
After the performance and rapping for the judges in my interview, I just knew I was going to win. And everyone else thought I had it in the bag too.
Much to our disappointment, I got 2nd runner up. A girl who had been vying for the title for a couple years won the crown and I won a little bit of scholarship money. And the next year, when I DEFINITELY thought I was going to be the Queen in my sequined gold dress, I didn’t win a single thing. It was my last chance to win and move on to Miss Alabama, and it was over. I was crushed. My best friend cried, my sorority sisters were disappointed, and I just felt like I had yet again tried and failed.
In fact, when I decided to compete in Miss Alabama USA (which has no talent portion by the way), a girl in one of my classes said, “I really hope you win. I was just telling someone, ‘I feel so bad for Kaitlin. She is always trying.'”
Wow. Yep – that’s me. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… and again… and again…and just ONE more time.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t win Miss Alabama USA. One of the big wigs at the pageant actually told my coach I was “beautiful, but just a little too big for this pageant.” No joke – I was one of the biggest girls on stage. I just could NOT quit eating cheeseburgers and ice cream to save my life — woops.
Losing that crown was pretty embarrassing considering I had made such a big deal about it all. I just kept telling myself: “At least you got on stage and tried. That’s more than a lot of people would do.” But maybe the people who don’t aren’t always afraid. Maybe they are just wise enough to not take a stage they weren’t called to. And I definitely wasn’t called to that stage.
There were two other crowns I lost back-to-back that hurt pretty bad. I made homecoming court my sophomore year of college, which was a pretty big deal! You see, I was OBSESSED with my college – The University of North Alabama (Roar Lions!) – and I honestly just wanted to win a crown that symbolized my love for the university! I had served in leaderships roles for several organizations and had poured my heart into my sorority, so I just wanted to be affirmed that the whole school loved me as much as I loved it! (I’m cringing writing this. I had some serious identity issues.)
I wanted nothing more than to be the homecoming queen. But the voting process back then was a little different, so I wasn’t so sure I’d win. You better believe I prayed my heart out for that crown. (Yep. That was the top of my prayer list. My priorities were just right!)
As the winner was announced, my heart sunk. I could feel the hearts of all my people cheering me on sink, too. Later that night, a friend of mine who was in student government and had counted votes let me know I had lost by 10 votes. WHY DID HE TELL ME THAT?
Is it worse to be 200 votes away from winning or just “not quite good enough” to win? I can’t really decide, but I know that all 10 of those votes punched me in the gut.
I made court the next year too, and lost again! Two in a row. I was on fire.
I was so devastated that I had come to the end of my college career and hadn’t received the crowns I had craved so badly.
There was one more major award I’d coveted since day 1, and that was the university’s “Turis Fidelis Award,” which was the “highest honor bestowed upon a graduating senior.”
I had kind of forgotten about it when graduation rolled around, but I picked a girl I thought would get it based off her grades and involvement. I didn’t even care at this point.
As I sat in my assigned seat on the gymnasium floor with shoes that hurt and a graduation cap sitting way too far back on my head, I was in a daze. The guy next to me elbowed me and said, “That’s you!” I didn’t even hear my name called for the Turis Fidelis recipient and I hadn’t expected it at all! I heard my friends and parents going crazy as I made my way up on stage to hear the kind things the Vice President of the college said about me. My heart floated up to my throat and I started tearing up.
The crown that meant the most, and the one I least expected, had been given to me because of all the many things I tried and all the many things I gave my heart too. This crown wasn’t based on beauty or talent or votes. It was based on heart and dedication.
But that still wasn’t enough. I kept striving for the perfect job and the perfect house and the perfect marriage. I hope you don’t read the first part of this post as a list of things I won and lost but as a list of things I thought I needed more than Jesus. I hope it encourages you to search your heart for anything you think you need to make you worthy. Whether it’s a job, a leadership position, a relationship, or a new outfit, you don’t need it to be enough. All you need is Jesus.
But it wasn’t until about a month ago until I really I realized the crown I had needed all along.
I was at my church’s women’s conference with my mom and the event was titled “Crowned.” My jaw dropped when I read the notebook with the word CROWNED embossed in gold across the front. I had already planned to write this post about all the crowns I had tried to win and how the crown I’ll receive in Heaven is the only one I ever needed. But I had no clue I’d get a taste of that crown so soon.
A few weeks before, I had a dream that God woke me from and told me to write down what I remembered. I wrote down the word “deliver” because I had seen a book in my dream with bright, shining, gold letters embossed across the front that read, “DELIVER.” “Deliver” and “crowned” have the same number of letters. And their definitions compliment one another in the strangest way.
The definition of crowned is: “Ceremonially place a crown on the head of (someone) in order to invest them as a monarch.”
The definition of deliver is: “Bring and hand over (a letter, parcel, or ordered goods) to the proper recipient or address.”
As I looked at the conference notebook and felt my dream come back to the forefront of my mind, I thought it meant God was delivering me from my depression and need from approval. But as I read the definitions, I realized He was physically delivering a crown to me, the proper recipient, to invest in me as a leader in His Kingdom.
All at once, every crown I had ever run after or won lost weight. It’s like I had been paying my life’s earning to get a paper crown from Burger King when God was ready to offer me a crown of glory. Not only did he want to offer me a crown, He sees me as a crown of beauty in His hand. And He sees you like that too.
“You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.” Isaiah 62:3-4 (ESV)
As we live like crowns of beauty, we also have to remember to lay it all down at His feet. He is worthy of all our honor and praise. One way to honor Him is to give Him back the gifts He has given us. These gifts, these crowns don’t come from what we’ve done; they are simply and powerfully from Him because of Who He is, not who we are.
“… the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.’” Revelation 4:10-11 (ESV)
I want to lay the crowns I have and the crowns I think I want at His feet. I want to give God all honor and glory because He has saved me from myself. I want to give Him every gift I have, even though none come close to being enough to thank Him for how He changes my life.
I know that when we get to Heaven, He will have a crown full of jewels ready for those who have served Him well and given their hearts to make Him known. That’s the only crown I’m after these days, and I want to remind you you can wear the same crown. He will deliver a crown to you just because you are His. You don’t have to try harder or get more votes; you just simply have to say, “yes” to Him today and every day and let Him use you.
Doesn’t that sound like a much better crown than any paper crown we can get anywhere else? Oh, and you can totally pull a Cady Heron from “Mean Girls” and break off pieces of the crown to pass around. It’s made to share. You don’t have to fight for the first place prize ever again. There is no competition. We are all first place in His eyes. Call it clichéd if you want, but it’s true. You get a crown, you get a crown, you get a crown!
You can’t walk around with your head down while you’re wearing a crown. So, look up, focus on the King, and act like you belong to the royal priesthood He has called you to.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)