A beach in Barcelona, pixabay user/tiburi

I’m heading out of town soon to celebrate 25 years with my esposo.

We’ll be near salt and sand, soaked in sun, and these things require a bathing suit and speaking my second language. So it made me think of the following post I wrote when we were in Spain for our 20th anniversary.

A lot has changed since then. Last time my parents and Jason’s mom tag-team cared for our kids. This time my parents are of no help at all…

Anyway, back to Spain…it was Gay Pride Week in Barcelona and all the colors were out. There was so much freedom everywhere I looked…

...and Freedom is Beautiful.

Here’s more of a post I wrote 5 years ago about modesty, swimsuit season, and freedom in my own skin.

When I recommend articles on Social Media, I don’t always know the author…but a nugget here or truth there stands out to me, so I take the good, throw out the bad, and move on with it…it’s the middle-child peacemaker in me, likely.  I’ve never agreed with someone totally and completely on everything.  Have you?

But, all that to say, writer’s write, myself included, to start conversations, therefore I’m glad for the opportunity to discuss, regardless of whether we agree or not. And when it comes to swimsuit season, modesty, body love and body shame, and self-talk, there are so many perspectives, I thought I’d just throw this out there…

You see, Europeans wear whatever they want.  All different weight and body shape women wear bikinis.  Hairy men wear Speedos.  65 year old women only wear bikini bottoms.  Little kids don’t match and at the beach, clothing is totally optional when you are pint-sized.  On the streets, in the cafes, strolling through plazas and parks, European women wear clothes they think are pretty, regardless of size or coverage.

Seriously, there’s only one sized bikini in Europe, and every sized woman wears it….

And guess what?  They all were beautiful!  I speak Spanish fluently and never once overheard a discussion on whether another person’s beach attire was modest or immodest, whether they were causing another to stumble, if the exclusive, judgmental opinions of “American Christians” mattered to them as they enjoyed a day at the beach with their family and friends on the other side of the world with their tops off.

Instead, I witnessed freedom and beauty and laughter and living.

People were not humping in the streets just because some epidermis was visual.  On the beach, every third woman had her bikini top off, and looking around, as men, women, and children were soaking in the sun, playing volleyball, reading books, swimming and chatting, some smooching under their umbrellas, I didn’t see one erection.

Can you even believe it?


That’s right.  I looked around for erections…because being a SAHWMFTB (Stay At Home White Mom From The Burbs) and a Christ-follower at that, I just was curious, because from all the talk in American Churchianity, every man on that beach should have had a hard-on, but they didn’t.

Nope.  Europeans just seem a heck of a lot more comfortable in their bodies…and with everyone else’s bodies, too.  Men and women.  Kids, too.

All shapes.  All sizes.  All beautiful.  So very beautiful!

My British girlfriend told me that when Jason and I went to Spain I needed to go to a nude beach.  She said I needed to experience the freedom in all my glory, the “outfit” God made me originally.  It’s funny how in America, “nude beaches” are destinations.  In Europe, they are just beaches…where you get tan…and have a picnic…and take a nap.

We never did find the “nude” beach, but all the same, Europeans don’t delineate which grain of sand is which and where they can take off their tops or bottoms.  They just sunbathe.  In their skin…in the bodies God placed their hearts and souls and minds in to carry them through the life He breathed into them when He made them and thought they’d be an awesome addition to life on Earth, here and now, a display of His creativity, to commune and have relationships with all the other skin-covered people.

Anyway, IMO, Americans are being unnaturally influenced and inundated by hyper-sensitive, fear-based “Christians” who are speaking on “every one’s” behalf without the collective whole of Christianity’s opinion on the topic of beauty and sex and modesty and so much more.  This body shaming is maddening and I have some opinions on this…

But for now, until we understand, honor, and cherish the part that we are all totally freaking awesomeness embodied in all shapes and sizes, we’ve missed it.

Modesty isn’t a uniform and “modesty” itself doesn’t make you beautiful.  But that’s what much of the “discussion” is asserting. We are beautiful because we’ve all been made in the image of God. Period.

I’ve spent some time on the foreign mission field.  I’ve spent years mentoring women.  Recently I’ve spent a bit of time with very broken and bruised women over drinks in bars.  In those times when heart to heart conversations were taking place, I can honestly say I wasn’t concerned with what they were wearing or if it was modest or not, just that I was there to listen and they felt safe to pour out their hearts.

Freedom in knowing we are loved by God is what makes us all beautiful.

Yeah, I thought I was just going to Spain to celebrate 20 years of marriage with the love of my life.  In addition to that expectation, I learned more in 2 weeks than I have in 41 years about loving myself.  I learned a lot about beauty and sexuality and freedom and comfort with my own body and even how to love you better.

…I learned that beauty is freedom and freedom is beautiful.

 I should go to Spain more often…seriously.

The beach in Barcelona where I found freedom.

*I’d love to continue the conversation if the focus of modesty lies not with what we wear or don’t wear, but rather valuing every single person with whom we come in contact.  Once we begin to cherish and honor tangible people as awesome hand-crafted pieces of art shaped by the hand of God, then I think we’ll be onto something…however, if one-piece bathing suits and a 3-inch wide tank top on our daughters’ shoulders is your idea of “teaching” modesty, count me out.

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