By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
ELKRIDGE, Md.–Michelle Mackall serves as an administrative assistant for the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association and ministers alongside her husband John at CrossLife Community Church in Elkridge, Md.
Mackall competed in past pageants, but this was different. It was unfinished business with God.
“I had always wanted to compete once more…. I knew if I walked off the stage 100 percent who God made me, I had the victory, and God would be glorified,” she said.
In the past, Mackall sought the approval of man. She struggled with her own self image and fought for control in her life. That control even extended to a long-term struggle with anorexia.
Mackall grew up in a Christian home and made the decision to follow Christ when she was seven years old. Turmoil led to a “diet” at the age of 16 that quickly spiraled into a 12-year battle with an eating disorder. At one point she dropped to just 93 pounds.
“It was my way of controlling a world that in my mind was out of control,” she said.
She smiled her way through her young adult life to hide the pain. She met her husband John in college, who tenderly helped her through the battle, encouraging her to seek counseling several times, with God each time moving her steps forward.
After a brief hiatus, the disorder tendencies resurfaced while John was in seminary. A counselor at that time told Michelle she was “very good” at hiding behind the smile and building up walls to protect herself, even walls within her own marriage.
“But God did not want walls; He wanted me and my surrender to Him,” she said.
One way Mackall had sought approval in those early days was in pageants. And while pageants, she said, are often a wonderful venue for women, for Mackall, competing was a way to say she was “someone.” So she sought to look and say what she thought the judges wanted her to say rather than be who God had made her to be. Last year, with her husband’s support and blessing, she signed up to compete in the Mrs. Delmarva pageant to be held in Salisbury.
Mackall did not take home the Mrs. Delmarva crown but she did take the title and crown for Delmarva’s “Miss Personality.”
“And the funniest part was winning the interview competition.” Mackall laughed thinking she “blew it,” feeling much like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. But, she remembered her answers were from the heart, and she laughed with her family with true joy and freedom rather than beat herself up as she would have done 26 years ago when she struggled so hard to answer what was expected.
Mackall reconnected with a high school friend at the competition. A picture was taken of the two women and Michelle panicked when it was posted to her Facebook wall following the pageant.
“This means many high school friends have now seen me in the pageant ‘finery’ sans the crown. I had not thought that dynamic through and realized my secret is ‘out!’”
Mackall prayed, asking God to help, to ensure that He got the glory.
“He met me there and said, ‘What if My mission field was to expand beyond you and your prayers for the contestants? What if I am using that picture so that anyone who asks gives you the opportunity to share the reasons for your walk with Me?’”
One of the interview questions had been what I would want to accomplish as Mrs. Delmarva.
“My heart is to help women and girls realize their self-worth not through what society would tell them but for their gifts and talents.”
Mackall loves teaching a teen girl’s Bible study and is once again teaching a women’s Bible study where she prays she imparts this message. She also meets with individuals, helping them to trust God as they work to win the battle over disorders such as anorexia.
Mackall is available to share her journey from people pleaser to set free by God with women and teen groups.
For more information contact Michelle at (443) 340-5720 or email@example.com.