We have enjoyed our visit to Spain exuberantly. We have experienced a multitude of different events. It has been wonderful with one exception. Some people stare.
One day, we climbed to the top of a castle high on a hill. On another, we enjoyed the Van Gogh experience. Some days focused on lazying around on the beach, and others were a stiff climb to the top of a mountain or two. We visited Roman ruins on a couple of days, and on another enjoyed the most wonderful garden, with a museum in the same town. Finally, we even found a tour of a chocolate factory. They made a type of hot chocolate drink that I actually liked. It was to the American Hot Chocolate as a diamond is to paste jewelry. We never got too much of any one thing. The variety made us feel like we could have enjoyed more of any of those activities.
Every day, I tried to walk enough to get my goal of 8 miles (16,500 steps) As I have walked, I watched. People would look straight ahead, and just give a quick glance. If they saw someone they knew, they would greet joyfully and perhaps chat a bit. Otherwise, they didn’t even acknowledge you. On one hike through the hills, I gave my friendly American nod and smile, almost by instinct. It is so hard to suppress your habit. One man stopped and asked, “Do I know you?” I had obviously broken the rule, one glance, and then look away with no further response.
When Regina and I walked on the beach walk, though it was different. They would stare. It was always older people. I couldn’t figure whether it was tourists, or Spanish, or even both. At first, it would bother us. I teased Regina, “It is because I am so much taller than you,” but she wasn’t buying that. Then we began to try to find a good response. We stared back, but that didn’t help much. Staring, smiling and nodding in a friendly way helped more. Finally, we decided that they may have a problem, but it didn’t have to be our problem.
We decided on an “in your face” action. We had come here to enjoy a vacation, so that is what we are going to do. We now walked hand-in-hand down the beach walk, smiling and enjoying ourselves. We were not being upset by those stares, but just remaining happy.
How many times have you felt people trying to control you by these social responses. People want you to feel guilty, or to be inferior, or to be the model of decorous behavior, etc. Rom 14 talks of the weak who frown on you for breaking their laws. It also encourages you to live your freedom, but not to flaunt your freedom in a superior way, to the point of hurting others. The best, of course, was to be sensitive to the pains of others. In fact, God’s goal is for you to grow very strong, so you don’t compromise your Godliness, but also so you don’t be obnoxious about it. You might disagree with another religion, but do it in a loving way.
It is so simple to say, “Their problem is not my problem,” but those feelings will pop out in response. God, though, will teach you to not let them control you. Expect to grow in victory.