To know me, is to know I love reading books.  Don't get me wrong, I have not always enjoyed reading.  But, the older I get, the more I look forward to learning from the stories of others (fiction and nonfiction).  I am currently reading a book called The Reason for God by Timothy Keller.  I have not even made it past the introduction, but a sentence caught my attention and made me pause.

The book reads, “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it.  People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.” 

I reread this paragraph over and over.  As I grappled with the words, I realized, “This sentence is a perfect description of a valuable lesson I learned from pageants: Form an opinion.  Stand behind it without apology.  But always remain intuitive.  Always be respectful.  And always ask yourself the hard questions.” 

One of the most critical areas of competition during a pageant is the interview.  Many people argue the interview is where the winner is chosen.  I agree, without reservation.  The interview is your chance to show the judges who you are.  It is your chance to show the judges you are qualified for the job.  It is your chance to show the judges you know how to digest facts, form an opinion, and stand behind that opinion in a respectful way.  

The judges have free reign to ask any question (within reason), including political and current event related questions.  As contestants, we spend all year preparing for, what are often, controversial questions.  I am thankful the Miss America Organization challenges me to answer the hard questions.  The interview has taught me to dive deeper into my beliefs and learn to respectfully defend them.