A Lesson In Potatoes

by Jamie Bonnema

I love little lessons that pop up in my day and interrupt my thoughts. I would even say that I tend to look for these examples to bring light to the more complicated issues in life. A recent enlightenment came with a bag of potatoes.

After getting the kids off to school, I finished some things around the house and headed to the store. I was practically on auto-pilot when I grabbed a bag of potatoes, according to the size, appearance, and price, and gave them a quick look. At a glance, the potatoes looked good, and I began to walk away, already thinking about supper. Before I got far, I brought the potatoes to my nose for an up close encounter and had an instant gag reflex. How could a good looking bag of potatoes smell that bad? Was it because they were among rotten potatoes? Maybe they were starting to rot from the inside-out, and it just wasn’t otherwise noticeable yet. After picking up that bag of potatoes, a stench remained on my fingers that I could still smell at the checkout, and I hoped the checker wouldn’t notice. I couldn’t get to the car fast enough to find the wet wipes so I could scrub off the smell!

Now, most scenarios include buying fresh food, not using it in time, and the food gets moldy, stinky, or rotten. Things just happen. But how often, do we really not do our due diligence by placing something into the cart that is already well on its way to the compost pile? Did we just not look closely enough? How often have we been on auto-pilot and were initially happy with the “good” purchase and getting out the door in record time? My guess is all too often, and this is where the life lesson jumped out and grabbed my attention.

So, let’s pretend we are no longer talking about potatoes and are now talking about the situations that we come in contact with everyday. Things can appear good on the outside but are rotten on the inside. This good looking situation, social media interaction, entertainment, or belief may come with a cost. We can make assumptions—even about the daily things—that these things are good and harmless because they feel right, look right, and other people seem to think the same way.

But overlooking the bad can lead to unwanted and unforeseen future consequences. Good people can mingle with bad things and still stink, or be deeply affected, even after walking away. That stink is more recognizable when we are clean—actively seeking and accepting God and His grace continually—and less recognizable the more we have distanced ourselves from things that are truly good, given to us by God. 

When we move through our day on auto-pilot, without the lens of Christ, we can surely miss important clues that would direct us the right way. Missing things, like the depth and seriousness to that which we are actually exposing ourselves to, opens the door to things we never intended to believe or get involved in. Desensitization begins to tear us from the path we planned to travel, leading us far from our original destination. But what if we were paying attention and thoroughly checked what went into our minds—our cart—first? If we were more in tune with how God sees things, do you think we would actually be more protected from future pain? When all of this seems too exhausting for me to grasp, and I just want to distance myself from everything in an effort to protect MYSELF, I remember I am not bringing these things to the right place.

So let’s bring this straight to the cross: Father, please help us in our daily walk, to discern the good from the bad—to discern Your truth from near-truth and blatant lie. Protect our minds and hearts from the impact of darkness. Forgive us our sins when we choose to compromise our walk or are not paying attention. Surround us with those who will lead us in truth when we find ourselves in a dark place, are confused or desensitized, or really do not see the bad places our hearts are headed for. Let your Word be our foundation, which deconstructs all confusion and fear, securing us on the path you would have us follow. Let us seek You, more than any other daily thing, to fill us and reveal who we are. Amen.

Jamie Bonnema is a former youth treatment counselor for residential care, education, and wilderness programs. She is a married mother of four children, works from home with a biotech company, and loves spending time outdoors.