Wright Words: From the tragedy of sexual assault to Auburn's Miss Homecoming (+video)

Published: Friday, Nov. 1 2013 9:00 a.m. MDT

A few short years after their heart-to-heart chat surrounding the Christmas tree, the two women found themselves standing in the light on a football field embracing and shedding tears as Molly Anne’s name was called. But even in that surreal moment, Dutton says it wasn’t about winning Miss Homecoming — a tremendous Auburn honor — it was about spreading her campaign’s platform: “Light Up Life.”

It was a campaign that nearly never took flight.

Molly Anne’s friends had encouraged her to run for Miss Homecoming, but as an independent candidate without a sorority affiliation, she came in late and faced an uphill battle against other coeds with larger teams and built-in support. As they brainstormed what her platform might be, a friend asked, “Wouldn’t you like to share something eternal? Something of significance to the Lord?”

They debated other ideas before her team came back to her with a brave approach. With only a handful of people knowing her story, they told her it was time to “speak life.” Molly Anne was encouraged to courageously share her adoption story. “Faith was the foundation of that decision,” Molly Anne said, “and I know it was filtered through the Spirit.”

United with her campaign team — comprised of those she loves and trusts — they had faith that win or lose, the message would light up campus. What they didn’t know is that their platform didn’t just light up Auburn, it lit up the country.

Committed to God

When we discussed her bravery in sharing her personal story to promote a public cause, she spoke of turning to the Lord and asking, “What kind of woman do you want me to be?” In that thread of our conversation and in nearly every other, she mentioned relying on the Holy Spirit to guide decisions large and small.

I asked Molly Anne what it’s like to know her story and pro-adoption campaign has extended beyond the shadows of Alabama’s borders to inspire many around the country. Her response reflected her humble attitude and desire to deflect. “Yes, I know I’m a light bearer,” she said, “but it’s God who’s doing a mighty thing right now.”

During campaign week, Molly Anne said her personal scripture study happened to have her working her way through the book of Isaiah. “I learned so much that week from the Bible,” she said before quoting, from memory, Isaiah 55:8-9. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Before our conversation ended, Molly Anne had quoted another handful of verses with such ease and confidence, it’s obvious the light she radiates isn’t surface deep — it truly comes from within.

As for Lifeline, their mission and ministry all these years later remains as vibrant as ever. “Molly Anne’s story is a perfect reminder of why Lifeline exists, to share the hope of Christ,” said Lifeline’s Development Director, Krisha Yanko. “By God’s wisdom and grace, Lifeline continues to help women in situations like Molly Anne’s birth mother, counseling, equipping, loving and serving women who need to know there’s hope beyond their present circumstances. Our prayer remains that through domestic and international adoption, foster care and orphan care, the hope found in Christ alone would be made known.”

Without being asked, Molly Anne said in the moments before our interview ended that more anything, she hopes that her campaign might inspire a woman who finds herself in her birth mother’s unfortunate situation to “Light Up Life.”

“I would want her to see how precious and good life is, to take hope, to take hope in Christ, to know that immeasurably more can happen." If anyone knows how true that is, it’s Molly Anne Dutton.

My first-impression notes were validated — she truly “lives a life of light.”

Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and his latest, "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at jwright@deseretnews.com, applevalleybarndance.com or jasonfwright.com

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