Victoria Advocate, September 19, 2021
I struggled for years not knowing what to write; then, a seminar instructor set me free with the words, “just do you.” After teaching Bible study for a long time, fiction seemed trite and unimportant. But when I need to relax, reading for pleasure has been my go-to since childhood.
When I did decide on fiction for novel writing, I didn’t know what genre to choose. So I went through the list. I like some sci-fi, but not enough to create stories. Fantasy requires too much world-building. Much of the mystery/suspense/thriller genres involves guns and serial killers—pretty far from my comfort zone. No teen or children’s lit, although I enjoy it at times.
That left romance. Who? Me? I have to admit, I didn’t have a high opinion of romance writing, but those are the only ideas that come together for me. The only novels I can write from start to finish.
Then I realized romance writing has a bad stereotype. It’s become synonymous with poorly written stories with a twisted emphasis on sex.
But I write the kind of romance that I want to read. In other words, I “just do me.” Stories with truth infused through the pages. Light. Humorous. Fun.
In truth, this “just do you” idea isn’t new. It reminds me of a Bible story, though it’s also credible history. Way back when, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Jerusalem and brought back many Hebrews as captives. Daniel, a young Hebrew, and his three companions were intelligent and good-looking, apparently a bonus. Still, the king wasn’t into “just do you.” Instead, he tried to remake them into Babylonians.
The young men were educated in the culture, required to learn the language, and had their names changed. But did the King succeed in erasing their Hebrew identity? Scripture says no. Daniel refused to eat the King’s food or drink his wine. And because of the diplomatic way he handled it, he got a pass.
Later, when Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue, Daniel’s three friends wouldn’t bow down to it. Their reward for staying true to their convictions? The king was enraged, and they were thrown into a fiery furnace. But they didn’t burn up—Scripture says they didn’t even smell like smoke. (Daniel 3)
Years passed. Instead of Daniel gradually being absorbed into the culture, he stayed committed to being faithful to the one true God. Daniel was one the best—a GOAT—at being himself. Consequences didn’t seem to matter. Case in point. During the reign of Darius the Mede, Daniel kept right on praying to God in spite of an edict to the contrary. He got thrown in a den of lions, but again, God had the last word. Daniel was unharmed, but the guys who trapped him became lion food. (Daniel 6)
Daniel and his friends refused to go along with what everyone else expected of them despite the tremendous pressure to conform. They stayed true to who they were—Hebrews who worshiped the one true God. And yeah, their actions were unpopular with the status quo. Sound familiar?
As Christians, God wants us to be who he created us to be. He wants me to “just do me” even when that means teaching Bible study, writing romance, or reading good fiction. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. I’m acceptable to him no matter what.
“That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship…” (Johns 4:12, The Message)