Prior to leaving for Europe, and prior to moving back to California for that matter, I had convinced myself that I needed to have a season of rest to be "spiritually ready" for such a long and adventurous trip. I'd been working like a crazy person while in Nashville, logging in anywhere from 60-80 hours per week with all of my jobs, and was honestly really ready for that busy season to be over. But once I was in California, I found it very difficult to not be "doing," and therefore didn't rest (to almost no one's surprise I am sure). Then about two weeks before leaving for London, I had this massive realization that I hadn't done what I thought I was supposed to do (rest), and therefore thought I wasn't going to be ready for the trip because I also hadn't spent enough time with Jesus. But something in my spirit quickly revealed another thought: that maybe all of that stuff about rest and spiritual preparation was just some sort of plan I had concocted on my own and wasn't really from God after all, but that maybe — just maybe — the trip itself was the real season of spiritual rejuvenation and growth.
Which brings me to Barcelona...
On my second day in the city, I decided to visit Hillsong BCN and ended up at their Sunday evening service. I was excited to attend a Spanish speaking service (mixed with Catalan) and to worship together in different tongues, and suffice to say it did not disappoint. I ended up meeting a guy named Vegard, who is from Norway but lives in Barcelona, and through him I met a bunch of other people from all over the world who live in Barcelona and attend Hillsong: people from the U.S, South America, China, Scandinavia, the U.K., and many other parts of Europe. It was such a beautiful melting pot of cultures and languages! I ended up grabbing late dinner with many of them, some of which decided to go salsa dancing afterward and invited me to join. Here's the thing: I'm pretty much a grandma at heart, and being that it was already 11:00pm I was considering just heading back to my AirBnb to sleep or watch Stranger Things (don't judge!). But something in my gut screamed, "GIRL, why the heck not?!" So I set off with a group of five Barcelona-dwellers, all of whom speak Spanish fluently but none of which are actually from Spain: ther ewas me from the states, Matthew from England, Andrés from Colombia, Carla from Argentina, and Dennise and Nora from Mexico. They took me to a local spot that was tiny and magical, and that I have been forbidden by Andrés to share with anyone. I think that my nerves were starting to show, because just as Matthew asked to teach me how to dance, Andrés grabbed my hand and said something entirely and yet unknowingly profound: "Don't be nervous! No one knows you here... you can be any girl you want to be."
At first, I didn't know what to think of his statement. Sure, no one really knew me there, but that wasn't an excuse to go crazy and act unlike myself, right? It took me a hot minute, but I eventually realized just how right his words truly were: that maybe it was time to step into who I really am. The limitations that I have put on myself for so many years — things that no one has forced me to do or not do but myself — those things didn't matter there. I could have fun and dance like a fool and just fully enjoy the moment... so I did. And you know what? I had the best time! I let loose and learned to salsa (and even some bachata, too!) and I was fully present in that moment, and with those people, for what felt like the first time in a very long time.
The more I think about that night salsa dancing in Barcelona, the more I believe that Jesus was there in the moment when I was told that I could be any girl that I want to be. Not only could I step outside of my self-imposed restrictions and be who I wanted to be, but I could be the girl that I was made to be. I could dance in freedom and grace and let go of things that had been holding me back. And that simple yet life-altering truth applies here, now, and in every moment moving forward. I have the freedom to be exactly who I want to be — who I believe I was created to be — and that girl doesn't want to be kept small and safe because of fear. I want to step fully into this life that Jesus gave his own for. I want to love without abandon or barriers or fear. I want to run and jump and dance and not care what others think or worry about the future. I want to live every day like I did in that little salsa club in Barcelona: wild and free.