Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I don't have studies to back it up, but my opinion is that, in most cases, a relationship works best when there is genuine, serious, and heartfelt commitment involved.  I don't know - is that common sense?  Do we even need studies to prove that?

With that in mind, I'm realizing that there is a particular relationship in my life that is not working, that is less-than-healthy.  It's time to commit, time to confess my love and show it through my actions.  

How can I call myself a writer if it's something I do only when it's convenient?  I mean, when you're a parent, you're a parent 24/7, asleep or awake.  You've made a decision to care for a child - or several children.  There are times when other people help you, but you don't stop being a parent.  When you're a spouse, it's the same thing.  You've committed to this other human being, and even if you don't like him or her very much, you're still married, and hopefully things will get better.  When you're a person of faith - any faith - you've decided to adopt a set of beliefs or principles, and you plan to stick by them, regardless of what people think of you.  When you're an athlete, you're always thinking about how to improve your performance, even if it's the off-season.

So why have I been treating writing so casually?  It isn't about time, not really, because we do make time for that which is important to us.  Plus, if I cut back on Instagram even a little bit per day, and replace that time with writing, I'll have written the next Great American Novel in, oh, maybe a month.  It's not about talent, because in-the-business people I trust - not just my "buddies" - have affirmed that I am a good writer.  It's not about ideas, because I have storylines for three major novels running through my head at any given time, and I can churn out a short skit for my teenage actors in just a day or two - there is no shortage of ideas for church groups, believe it or not (I mean, the Bible is pretty beefy source material).

Sooo, what is it?

It's with a measure of shame that I admit it's my fear.  Fear of failure.  Of not completing these books that are constantly - CONSTANTLY - rolling around in my head.  Of completing them and being unable to submit them to an editor.  Of submitting them and being rejected for publishing.  Of being published and then overwhelmingly negatively reviewed.  Of writing subject material too "religious" for non-Christians and too "secular" for Christians (I feature Christian themes and characters in my work, and I even my more mature themes are still family-friendly, but I would not consider my work appropriate for Tyndale or Zondervan).  Of being thought of as unoriginal.  Or "churchy".  Or too romantic.  Or too realistic. Or too flowery.  Or too boring.  Or too obvious.  

Now that these fears are out of my head, they don't seem too different than any others.  We hesitate to tell others how we feel because we're afraid we might be rebuffed.  That the other person wants to just "be friends".  We are afraid to ask our bosses for raises because we might be told "no" - and then we'll question our own value and worth.  We are afraid to parent our children, rather than befriend them, because we don't want to be seen as "mean".

So, ultimately, that means that my fear of failure is no different than anyone else's, and I just need to suck it up and dive in.  I need to re-evaluate my relationship with writing.  I'm not happy with  our infrequent but passionate trysts.  Seeing each other once or twice a week isn't really healthy for a couple; so why should I think writing once or twice a week would work for me?  

Dear Writing,
It's not that there is someone else.  You're still the only hobby for me.  I've just let things get in our way lately, and I'm sorry if you've felt neglected.  You're still a source of joy for me, something I dearly love.  I've let life and stupid things like clickbait articles get in the way of us being together, and I promise that I'm working to change that.  I won't be afraid of you anymore.  You were given to me as a gift. You help me see things more clearly; you help me organize my own thoughts.  You let me live a hundred different lives, and re-imagine my own past.  I appreciate that you've never left me and always been waiting for me to keep my promises to you, and it doesn't matter if you and I ever make money; let's just stay together.  For the long haul.
Yours forever,
Rebecca L. Godlove

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rational Words, Irrational Love

I wrote the majority of this post a few days ago but hesitated in publishing it.  My pastor's message yesterday morning was about the mission of reconciliation that all believers have, and it also was about allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our interactions with others, rather than vehemently and passionately witnessing - without BEING a witness.  It is with that encouragement that I decide to share my thoughts here.

Christianity is not a "rational" faith.

We hold to the belief that there is a force beyond ourselves that created the universe, yet sees humans as individuals worthy of infinite love.  We believe that the Son of said force (we call him God) was born from a young virgin, that He performed crazy miracles, taught people to love each other and love God, and died on a cross.  We believe that He came back from the dead and gave His believers the power to perform miracles greater than His.

Yes.  It sounds totally, completely, insanely nuts.  NUTS.

Yet it is the foundation for an entire faith claimed by millions of people.

Can people who even believe this stuff be considered rational?

I hope so.

I'm one of them.

I try to keep hot-button topics off my blog and other social media outlets.  With all the big stuff out there (Planned Parenthood, homosexual marriage, the Duggars, Bruce Jenner, etc.), it's so easy to misinterpret facts (or miss them, or leave them out completely), and voiced opinions quickly get passionate.  And ugly.  I'm on the verge of swearing off clickbait articles altogether and refusing to read comments on any other more "credible" new sources, too.  So often, reader responses overshadow the content in the story, and range from passive-aggressive Scripture quotes to hateful diatribes laced with atrocious accusations and even more atrocious grammar.  Frequently, the comments are aimed at other commenters, and not at the article itself.

With such venomous mud-slinging covering all people groups these days, Christians find themselves in a unique position.  At least in name, we were once the "ruling class" in America - especially white, middle- and upper-class Christians.  We suddenly find ourselves having to defend our beliefs in the face of a dramatically changing political and moral landscape.  As few as twenty years ago, a great many Americans identified as having mainstream Judeo-Christian beliefs.  Now, those same beliefs are considered by many to be outdated, intolerant, and bigoted.  The beliefs haven't changed but America has.

How do we continue to be heard - and actually listened to - in a country that frequently mocks our faith and denies our God?


We speak quietly.  We choose gentle, respectful words.  

We let our actions speak for themselves.

We love more loudly than we talk.

This revelation hit me hard this week, when I posted my first comment about the Planned Parenthood scandal on my Facebook page.  A rather liberal friend from college noted - with great respect, I must add - that my source was mistaken.  Admittedly, I did not fact-check, because I respected the source of the article.  What followed was a careful, deliberate conversation about faith, facts, and - surprisingly - forensics.  Forensics as in debate, that is.  

When Christians - especially conservative Christians - choose to share their values, whether in a public or private setting, it is imperative that we fight fair.  People like to cite Jesus flipping over the moneylenders' tables at the temple (Mark 11:15) when they talk about an unfair status quo that needs to change. They forget, though, that the vast majority of His ministry was spent preaching, teaching, and healing.  He taught with stories and parables.  He knew the Scripture, inside and out.  He loved God, and obedience to God was His first (and only) priority.  Jesus always had His priorities and His facts straight.  He spoke with love to the people who were truly curious about what He was saying .  He ignored the naysayers and refused to chase them down with Scripture after Scripture, citing why they should follow Him.  Instead, He answered them simply, with the Truth (Mark 2)  I have a hard time believing that He, were He walking the earth today, would hashtag his status updates with #sorrynotsorry and #justsayin.  I'm thinking He wouldn't spend hours trolling controversial news topics and making snarky comments at other people.  I don't even know how much time He would spend picketing abortion clinics.  Yes - I went there.  I'm not saying He wouldn't oppose them (He stood by the Law, which forbids murder, so I don't think there's a question there), but instead of ranting and raving about injustice, He spent hours teaching the people who wanted to learn.  He spent most of His time with people who "got" Him (even though Scripture tells us that none of them ever really did until He had been resurrected).  He poured into them so that they could teach, preach and heal others.  

I throw down the gauntlet - a challenge for Internet-savvy Christians - particularly American ones, and particularly conservative ones.  Can you be as deliberate as Jesus in your next social interaction online?  Can you refrain from name-calling?  Can you do more than just post a verse and wait for others to bite?  Can you stand up for the disadvantaged without shaming them or others?  Can you enter into a debate with collected thoughts, respect for your opponent, and the desire to rationally represent a totally irrational faith?  I am not saying that we should sit quietly by while our country falls apart.  Being collected and rational does not mean that we stop sharing our beliefs.  Not at all!  But it means that we acknowledge that we won't get anywhere by handing out religious tracts and side-eye at the same time.  We can't say that we love others while we force fear down their throats, while we call them disgusting and obscene.   With double-talk, we play into the title of "hypocrite" that they have given us, even as we drive them farther and farther from the Truth.

Or have we forgotten that we were saved from our own sin by the One whose name we have taken - not by any act of our own?

"Then we will no longer be immature like children.  We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.  We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.  Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." - Ephesians 4:14-15

The verse above indicates that becoming more like Christ is a result of acting out of love - specifically, speaking the truth in a loving, respectful way.  It contrasts this behavior with the chasing of new ministry fads and ways of thinking, encouraging the readers - early Christians - to stick to the simple truth of the Gospel and not get caught up in how to make it cooler, more relevant, or prettier.  Sometimes, I think the circus that is social media makes it very easy for aspects of our faith to be blown out of proportion, or to easily bury the simple truth of God's love in piles of controversy, quotes, statistics, and half-truths.  A verse, taken out of context, can incite riots.  We have become a deeply sensitive people, ready to take offense at virtually anything.  We are ready to take up arms to fight a war born of misunderstanding.  We are willing to scream about injustice and morality at the top of our voices, yet we refuse to listen when the Holy Spirit leads us into quiet conversations, meditation, prayer.  We have become unreasonable in every way.

I love what the Lord says in Isaiah 1:18.  He is speaking to his beloved, but rebellious people.  They have trampled his commandments time and again, and been out from under his protection as a result.  They have chased false idols and wooed other gods, they have disobeyed him, disregarded him, mocked him.  Yet he is patient and he invites them back into his arms: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."  He then simply asks for obedience and promises great blessings - unseen and unimagined blessings.  He promises Jesus, Whose blood - in the years to come - will make them clean again.

If God sets forth the invitation to be reasonable, cannot we, as Christians, follow suit?  Let us share that beautiful, irrational, ridiculous, extravagant, endless love that saved us from hell.  But let's do it with clear minds and careful words.  Let the sparks we ignite be the flames of revival - not flame wars.