By Jean Elizabeth Miles
Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama for 2013
A wise person once said, “All good things must come to an end.” While I wish this statement wasn’t true, the older I become, the more I realize its certainty in life. It definitely became more relevant to me two weekends ago when I had to hand over the honor of representing my great state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama. For the past six years, I have dreamed of nothing more than to call myself a “Jr. Miss,” now called Distinguished Young Women. As a sixth grade student, I watched my sister participate at the local and state levels and wished with all that I was to someday join her as a Houston County representative. Leading up to my senior year of high school, I trained five to six days a week, spent countless hours at the piano, and studied as hard as I could to maximize my GPA and ACT scores. I even watched what seemed to be the same news stories replayed morning, noon, and night just to stay current on the happenings of the world around me. As my local program approached, I wanted so badly to represent Houston County and be the first set of sisters to ever do so. I never dreamed that less than a year later, I would be continuing my preparations while heading to Mobile for the 56th National Finals.
This proves to me the sovereign plan for each and every person’s life. Had you asked me five years ago what I would be doing in June of 2013, participating in the National program would not have been the first thing that came to mind, however, it was obviously planned long before by someone who knows far greater than I could ever see. Before my local program, I prayed every day, “Lord, you know what I want and what I have been striving towards, but Lord, I want your will more.” It was and is my greatest desire to live everyday right where He wants me. It is so important that each day be spent with purpose and a desire to honor Him with every action. While I wanted to win, ultimately, I knew it wasn’t up to me, no matter how hard I tried. Life is full of new opportunities and we must take full advantage of what the future brings. God places us exactly where we need to be, we just need to open our eyes and be in tune with His spirit in order to know what step to take next. All the awards in the world will never fulfill our purpose on earth. They will not bring us joy or even success. The accolades, like our lives, are here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean and a vapor on the wind. What we think is a big deal today, like winning Alabama’s Distinguished Young Woman, will be passed off to someone else and eventually covered by the dust and debris of everyday life. It isn’t the medals won, trophies earned, or awards received that determine your life, but the lives you impact that make all the difference. While yes, the Distinguished Young Women program earned me thousands in scholarships and wonderful opportunities, it gave me the chance to meet over 175 distinguished ladies from across my county, state, and even the country, and hopefully share the love of God along the way. It gave me a platform to spread the message of being your best self at all times with elementary and middle school girls. These opportunities are what brought me the most joy.
Throughout my time training and preparing for the various levels of competition, I learned more about myself than I had in the 18 years of living. I learned I possessed strength inside that, with the right motivation and drive, I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I learned the values of time management, organization, and what it means to make good use of your resources, whether financial or otherwise. Most importantly, I learned the dire importance of living everyday solely reliant on God. During my high school experience, there were several opportunities to be involved in new ways, lead groups of my peers, or receive accolades and awards, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t selected. There were organizations I wanted to be a part of and competitions I wanted to win, but for some reason, I didn’t. On January 17, 2013, all of that was put into perspective as the silver medallion was placed around my neck. All of those years, the Lord was saving me for something special, something called the Distinguished Young Women Program. The friendships made and memories taken away from this experience have greatly impacted my life, and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it. While yes, all good things must come to an end, I am excited to see where the Lord will take me next. Live in His will, and you, too, will see the blessings already surrounding you. After all, God is always trying to take you someplace new.
Jean Elizabeth Miles is a college freshman at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama majoring in Civil Engineering. Originally from Rehobeth, Alabama, Jean Elizabeth was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama for 2013. Learn more about Jean Elizabeth here!