I’ve never really been a big fan of the whole pageantry that surrounds Homecoming. I like football and all of the brouhaha of Homecoming just lengthens halftime and delays the game action. Furthermore, I’ve never been much of a fan of the popularity contest that is Homecoming. The whole thing just smacks of superficiality to me. In general, I find our culture’s concept of beauty to be very ugly.
But maybe I’m changing.
Last week at a local high school football game, I got sucked in. The young ladies looked elegant. Their escorts were dapper. Maybe it’s me mellowing in old age. Maybe it’s the fact that I knew some of the kids and thought they were beautiful outside and inside. Whatever the reasons may be, I found the festivities pleasant.
Then I caught a feature on the Today Show on Monday about a Homecoming festivity in Texas. Let’s just say that I am solidly in the “Pro-Homecoming” crowd now.
At Grand Prairie High School in north Texas, 17-year-old Lillian Skinner was elated to learn that she had been nominated for the Homecoming court. Only she wasn’t. Some mean classmates had cooked up a cruel practical joke at Lillian’s expense. Just to see how Lillian would respond, they told her she had been selected for the Homecoming Court.
Thankfully, the world isn’t full of only cruel people.
Anahi Alvarez and Naomi Martinez were legitimately nominated to the Homecoming Court. These girls had befriended Lillian. And when they heard about the cruel joke others had played at Lillian’s expense, they made a pact to do something about it. The two girls vowed that if either of them won, they would give the crown to Skinner.
As Providence would have it, Alvarez was named Homecoming Queen. In front of a football stadium packed with thousands of classmates and parents, Alvarez immediately passed her crown to Skinner.
“Seeing the look on her face and the way she reacted toward it, it was priceless,” Martinez told a Dallas TV station. “I knew it was the right decision.”
This whole episode transported me back in my mind to high school. I’m not the kind of guy who remembers things vividly, but I will never forget the day when Ashley Johnson (Ashley Daigle now) stood up to some bullies on behalf of a girl named Bonita. Ashley was the pretty cheerleader. Bonita was the awkward, often-unkempt new girl. And the bullies were a group of my friends. Most of them weren’t mean-spirited kids. They were just thoughtless, stupid 16 year olds. I’ve walked a few miles in those shoes, so I can personally testify to what idiots 16 year old boys can be.
Since that day at Mary Montgomery high school some 20+ years ago, I have learned some valuable life lessons. Like, you can’t hide your ugly heart with a good wardrobe. Sooner or later, your ugliness will show. Try having a clean heart instead. You’ll be surprised what great things that does for you when you lie down to sleep at night. Also, true beauty is found within. Our world has warped the concept of beauty. Girls have image issues because we idolize 90 lb. runway models. When I was a teenager, a six-pack was how you bought your Cokes. Now, kids are obsessed with their abs. I wonder, if we spent a fraction of the time perfecting our character that we do primping what would the world look like? Finally, anyone can be beautiful. External beauty is fleeting. At some point we all lose to gravity. But inner beauty can grow with age if we are mindful of it. Scripture warns us, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Simply put, beautiful people act it.
So congratulations, Lillian Skinner. Wear your crown with pride. And thanks to you and your friends for inspiring us to remember what true beauty is.