No self-respecting Spanish gets out of bed before midday on a Saturday. All the people walking Calle Larios, the main street, at 10am are tourists. If it weren’t for the time of day, you could tell from the clothes anyway. Oversized t-shirts, a lack of accessories and hair bundled up or left scraggling around their shoulders.
These are not the Spanish chicas. Spanish chicas are brutal when it comes to fashion. They are perfectly bronzed, slight heels, covered in accessories, long hair flowing down their back.
There was this time about a year ago in Spain when I turned around and saw that end moment when you know two people have been looking at you. One of the chicas raised her eyebrow at the other and they laughed. Every girl knows how to read that message of, ‘As if you would wear that.’ or ‘What even IS that?’
It took me a moment to work out why I deserved it.
My dress was too big for me but I bought it anyway. You know when you love something. Not a fashionista (I only care so much) I’d tied the material belt into a half-bow, sitting at the centre of my back to make it the right size and promptly forgot about it. Out of sight to me, but not the chicas.
Of all the effort I’d gone to that day, the hair, the make up, the waxing, the nails, the perfume, the dress, the heels, she’d noticed one tiny thing a little odd.
It was a shame cos I was quite keen to be friends. My Spanish is better in Madrid, where they remember to use the ’s’ sound and breath between sentences. I watched them walk away a little sad that I’d been a little lazy about the oversized belt and that it was something that mattered so strongly to her.
Because I’m a Pastor-by-trade and there’s a freakin’ object lesson in everything, my mind reminded me that…
Focussing on the negative shuts life down. Shifting attention to the positive opens life up.
At that time, I was so negative about my life Before. About life in the church. I was processing anger over the way it had shut my world down and encouraged me to make decisions that weren’t right for me. I was dealing with the feelings of betrayal, the incredulity that no-one told me, that the whole time people were actively keeping me from knowledge of things under the guise of ‘protecting me’. I was working through what my relationship with the past was going to be moving forward; to forget, to pretend it doesn’t exist, to write, to be actively against, blah blah blah…
It reminded me that, while acknowledging the negative is crucial to dealing with it, focussing on the positive is a key part of actually moving on from it.
My experience growing up fundamental took away a lot of things. If I look hard enough though, it also gave me a lot of things.
For those of us who have gone through that, if we’re to live the next phase of our life to its fullest, we need to mine our past for gems that give us some appreciation of it.
This is acceptance. It is letting go of bitterness. It is rescuing the present from the clutches of the past.
An exercise. Here are the good things I’ve gained from growing up Fundamental.
So now an exercise for you… what good things did you get from growing up in religion?