by Jamie Bonnema
This past year has been a struggle and a blessing. At both ends it has been immensely intense. Some may find it odd to even think about this past year as a blessing when at times we would rather close that chapter and never remember. But through this amazing struggle, I have learned much. My heart will never be the same, and I have a feeling that this is for an extremely important reason: there is much ahead.
This year has changed all of us. We were on our knees, sobbing in prayer, joining others across the globe, with unified pleas to heaven. Prayers were not little. They were not taken lightly. For the first time in a long time, many of us came to the realization that our simple way of living had been taken for granted, and we had left so many conversations with God behind, not understanding what was at stake. We left action in a box on the shelf. We left decisions up to others when we should have been leading the charge. We just wanted to live our own lives and let others live theirs, while different plans were going on behind the curtain. And then, little by little, we began to see the consequences of leaving things up to others. We saw what we should have seen before—the abandonment of morality and logic took charge, and the golden calf is now visible before us as other “gods” have the attention. It seemed too much to take in, more was piled on, and even more came to light. There were mornings in which I was surprised when my eyelids opened to see that life was still happening. Christ can return at any time, and today could be the day—or last night could have been.
But when I open my eyes in the morning, aware that I’m still breathing, I understand that I have another day to do something right. Many times, I fail, but when the sun comes up, I still have another chance. God, what do you want of me?
Sometimes my role feels so small—almost non-existent. I am overwhelmed by the weight of the world, which can easily arrive in my home, bright and early, with just a swipe of the screen—with one headline in the news, a divisive poll on social media, or a comment clearly reflecting an attitude absent of God-fearing principles. A lie creeps in—nothing I do will make a bit of difference in this mess. And then I have to test that lie against God’s word.
God has been faithful—always. When I think I am nothing to the world, God says that He can use me. When I fail as a mom, He forgives me, sends me a kiss through my little boy, dusts me off with hugs from my girls, and prods me on with a thoughtful action from my husband. He shows me the sun that comes up every day, shining His goodness on our land should we take note. The birds still sing, the breeze still moves, and He is not done with this place—not as long as we are here.
The blessing in this past year is that I am not the same. On the outside, I may look the same to any other person I meet. But on the inside, God has been working. He has challenged me in areas that I didn’t feel challenged before. He has shown me what it is to struggle with forgiveness. He has challenged me to love people while first admitting that I don’t even know how to love them right now because of where they stand and where I stand. God has challenged me to let go of situations I’d rather just try to fix on my own—yes, I can get pretty bossy with God, and it just doesn’t work. And, He has allowed me to get messy real with my emotions, be vulnerable with others, and throw my pride out the window. It is not comfortable, and I’d prefer not to go through this at times, but I’d also rather not stay where I am. I’ve been broken and mended, and broken and mended. And that is okay because God is my constant when I cannot and should not stay the same. And for His unchanging love, forgiveness, and mercy I am thankful.
While so much has been taking place all over the world, it is hard to believe that over a year has passed, and yet life still moved forward. God dismantles the lie that my efforts cannot make a difference with all that is happening near and far. God has blessed our school to be open all year—to love and serve many children, families, staff, and communities. He has guided my steps in a new position, with unfamiliar tasks, and has filled in all the gaps where I was certain things were coming up short. He has reminded me, again and again, that my efforts are not mighty nor magical—He takes my eyes off my own efforts and puts them on HIS might! He works with the willing and the humble to create something beautiful out of our steps. His hand is in everything seen and unseen. The challenge for us will always be for our hearts to see the blessing in the struggle when our eyes can only see the world. Thank you, God, for not letting me stay the same and loving me enough to let me work through the pain. Thank you for being my rock!
In the middle of the heaviness of the world, God is faithful. Sometimes it feels like life is rushing by, while the burdens linger too long. But, if you can only grab His garment as He is walking by, do it and hold on as if your life depends on it. And when you do, you see that He sees you. You see that He pauses, and He changes you from within. The world’s troubles will go on, on the outside. But on the inside, you will never be the same. And, it is for a very important reason: there is much ahead for you.
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:26
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1
Jamie Bonnema is the PE Teacher and Athletic Director at Genesis Classical Academy. She is a married mother of four children and works part time at home with a nutrigenomics business. She loves sports, outdoor recreation, and DIY projects.