...and Freedom is Beautiful.
When I recommend articles on Facebook or Twitter or here on my blog, due to the nature of life and the Internet, I don’t always know the author personally, may not know their tone of voice in writing or if I’d even invite them to dinner…but a nugget here or truth there stands out to me, 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.
So, last week, when a mom I’d never heard of wrote an article and a friend on FB posted it, I read it, took away a few nuggets like: what a great idea to share social media time as a family and we all should discern what we share/post, whether we’re teenage girls or grown men or SAHM’s or singles or marrieds, for self-respect sake.
Did she specifically say this? No. She had a different agenda which I did not take away. She directed her post to teenage girls, and I’m not one, Em isn’t one yet, and so I read it, got the overall gist of what I wanted to take away, re posted it, and then went back to folding laundry and randomly spray painting things around the house…like these…
A friend was concerned about the post I re posted, so we dialogued a bit, I headed back to the post, re-read it, headed to the comments section of the blog, saw it had gone sour and that she was being eaten alive, some of it valid, other points out in left field, and wished I had posted what I had learned in Spain about all this two weeks ago when I got back.
You see, Europeans wear whatever they want. 300 lb 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 Evangelicals 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 Christian one at that, I just was curious, because from all the talk in Evangelical culture, 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.
Tonight another friend posted this on my FB page. I loved it! Loved the message, the response, thought it was well thought out and well written. Would I have coffee with her? Totally, because she gets me…I mean, Ryan rubs his boogers on our couch, DAILY, so her sticky furniture would feel like home to me. In particular, I loved this paragraph:
Anyway, IMO, Americans are being unnaturally influenced and inundated by hyper-sensitive “Christians” who are speaking on “every one’s” behalf without my permission on the topic of beauty and sex and modesty and so much more. This 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. Here’s an awesome article on that…
Modesty isn’t a uniform and “modesty” itself doesn’t make you beautiful. But that’s what much of the “discussion” is asserting.
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 don’t remember 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. And how can “blocking” people from our lives be an avenue to demonstrate God’s love?
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 a “teaching” on modesty, count me out.
Yes and yes and yes. I am also a Christian, also a SAHWMFTB (love that by the way 🙂 ) and I am tired of people speaking for me.
I agree with you 100%. And I want to go to Spain.
Meggie, totally go to Spain! That’s sweet of you to agree, though that’s not the goal here, because I’m learning as I go, in every area, and making mistakes along the way! But seriously, make Spain happen, lady! It’s UH-MAZE-ING for so many reasons!
I love you, BEMM! A lot! Not because you love this post, obviously, for so many other reasons! I mean, who bathes with strangers in Morocco, right? I bathed with a girl in Japan once…that’s all.
LOVE THIS. Times infinity.
Thanks, Beth! There’s a lot of un-doing which must be done so real ministry can start taking place…
First off – I love Spain! Beautiful country with wonderful people AND amazing beaches!
Second – You’re hilarious. I may have literally laughed out loud.
Third – want to see me get my panties in a bunch real quick? Speak about modesty as if it is black and white issue and how it (most assuredly) determines a woman’s value, character, and salvation. Yikes. See? Panties bunched.
So thank you for sharing!
I miss you, Jess! We talk about you guys a lot! There was a girl the other day, who from behind, had your same amazing hair and we thought for a second…
Anyway, want to write a guest post with your thoughts on panties in a wad? I’d love your 2 cents. email@example.com