Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Diary of a Recovering Rodeo Queen

Howdy, Ya'll!

It's that time of year again. The fair's in town, the smell of livestock mingling indelicately with the odor of deep-fried everything. Bright rides lighting up the West Texas night sky (yea assonance!). Funnel cakes. Bar-b-cue. Really good lemonade. Laughing children. Bellowing cattle. And the rodeo. My rodeo. It's that time of year when my secret love for leather jackets and skirts, for lambskin dresses with matching belts and boots, for fringe and jewelry and RHINESTONES, for dyed Wranglers, big belt buckles, for make up and hahairspray and color coordination all boil to the top. Hi. My name is Shanna, and I'm a recovering rodeo queen.

It all started some seven years ago when I encouraged to run for the West Texas Fair and Rodeo Teen title. I can't remember what made me want it. Me, a plain jane, t-shirt and jeans, no make-up, low maintenance kind of girl. But it was a good experience. Helped me to stop being so shy. Still, when the year was over, I all but swore that I'd never do it again. I thought I'd had enough. Except that every year when the rodeo rolled into town, I would go watch the pageant and miss it. A lot. So I decided to run for the Queen title four years after my inititiation into the world of rodeo royalty. And it was another good year, good experience. But I hung up my crown and banner at the end of it readily. I thought.

But the truth is that there is something deep down inside of me that still loves the idea of being a rodeo queen. Still loves the clothes and the introductions at rodeos and riding in parades. So, being the obsessive person that I am, I've thought about why that is. And thought and thought about it. And here's what I think. I felt like just about the best version of myself as a rodeo queen. I looked put together, fully coordinated, nice. Like a girl. I was important, in some measure, and you could tell by my banner and crown. I wasn't shy. And I was pretty good at it. So I was thinking that maybe that's why so many athletes seem to always long for the glory days after their careers are over. Or soldiers, or whoever. Maybe they felt like the best version of themselveses in the midst of all that, and when it's gone they spend years recovering, missing it and wishing for it. For that feeling again. Even if it was hard and they were ready to hang it up when the time came. Maybe that's why people like Michael Jordan retire and come back. And retire and come back. Because it isn't easy to feel like you've seen your best, and it got left on the court or in the arena or on the field.

But here's the thing. There wasn't anything special behind that crown and banner execpt me. So that best me is still in here somewhere. It was always there. Being a rodeo queen was just a catalyst that helped me find it. And that's true for everyone. Everyone has a best version. Not everyone finds it. And that is something of a tragedy because God wants the best for us. He created it for us. He created our personal best and He wants us to realize that fully. On and off the court. With and without the banner. And what better way to glorify and honor God than by being our very best selves that He created and calls us to be. Not that we have to be the our best all the time, but that wouldn't be a shame if we only ever catch glimpses of it in sports or as a rodeo queen, or whatever.

And honestly, I have a suspicion that most of us have never seen our best best. Because our best is that part of us that comes alive when we are living in Christ. It's that part of us that lights up in His Holy Presence, when our spirits dance with the Holy Spirit and never miss a step. When we're living the life that He intended for us.

So this is me hanging up my crown. I don't need it anymore. I need to learn to live in Christ. And to let those things that I liked so much about myself as a rodeo queen shine through anyway. So if you know anyone who needs some rodeo queen clothes, I've got some for sale.

And as I'm finally giving it up, it's nice to think that maybe the best is yet to come.


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