Auburn homecoming queen shows God's 'light'
"Even though a circumstance looks and feels so dark, God not only provides light, but He is the light Himself," Dutton said. "Some people could focus [on] the hardship of my birth, but God provides light in the darkness.
"That saving hope is the reason why … I live for Him," said Dutton, a member of Church of the Highlands Auburn campus.
Dutton's birth mother was a young married woman in California who suffered a sexual assault.
After realizing she was pregnant, she approached her husband and was given an ultimatum -- abort the child or get a divorce. Choosing life, Dutton's birth mother moved to Birmingham, Ala., where she discovered Lifeline Children's Services and received counseling, which sparked a confirmation that adoption was the best option for her as well as her child.
Dutton was adopted by Peggy Dutton and her then-husband, who at the time were serving on Lifeline's board. Molly Anne Dutton was raised in Gardendale where she grew up within Gardendale First Baptist Church's youth ministry.
The youth group "traveled to a beach retreat where the Lord showed me His compassion, purpose and love in Hebrews 2:9–11," Dutton noted of her faith journey. "Those verses [led] me humbly to the feet of Christ where I called Him Savior and King of my life."
Now a 22-year-old senior studying horticulture at Auburn, the homecoming queen said she never imagined in her wildest dreams that God would take her story beyond Auburn.
During the development stages of what came to be known as her "Light Up LIFE" homecoming campaign, she and her campaign team tossed around slogan ideas during a planning meeting. "We tried to think of words that described my story," she said, adding they soon decided on "Light Up LIFE."
When Auburn's homecoming day arrived Oct. 12, she was accompanied by her adoptive mother on Pat Dye Field in Jordan-Hare Stadium. When Dutton was announced as the university's 100th homecoming queen, both women cried together.
"I was full of gratitude … happiness and relief," Molly Anne Dutton noted. "God gave us every ounce of strength during that time and He proved so faithful. God isn't good because of the blessing He pours out on us; He is good because He is God."
After being named homecoming queen, her world looked a bit different as her story and message of life spread across the country, requiring her to balance both schoolwork and a multitude of media requests. Through it all she believes her story has touched many hearts, as evidenced by conversations, emails and messages.
Jamin Grubbs, who was Dutton's student pastor at Gardendale First Baptist Church, reflected on her incredible story.
"But when you think about it, many people have incredible stories and have been faced with circumstances that seem overwhelming," Grubbs said. "I believe what makes Molly's situation unique is that she is far more concerned with 'His story' than her own. I believe she has been living her campaign slogan 'Light Up LIFE' long before she ever thought about it. When I think of Molly, I think about Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14–16. Molly has simply been faithful to shine her light before men so that her heavenly Father can be glorified."
The story she has shared with the nation isn't about her, Dutton said.
"This story might have me as a character, but God is the author and perfecter of the story written within my life," she said. "I am so humbled to be used in what He wants to tell America."
"That Saturday in Jordan-Hare [Stadium] I thought the journey had finished," she said. "However, God was just beginning."
Julie Payne is a news writer for The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention.