Seeing the Blessing in the Struggle

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?

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Let Me Sum Up

by Jamie Bonnema

“Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

If you know this line, then you are probably a fan of the movie The Princess Bride. As I write this article, I am thinking to myself that there is too much going on in my mind for a blog, but perhaps writing a book may be more appropriate. But I will trudge on anyway, doing my best to sum up. Spoiler alert: If you have never watched The Princess Bride, but intend to, you may want to watch it first before proceeding.

Let’s begin by relating to the storyline of this movie. A poor man named Westley, who is employed as farm help, falls in love with his employer named Buttercup, who is a beautiful woman (the most beautiful woman on earth) with no apparent wealthy status. When Buttercup realizes that she loves Westley, Westley goes away to make money so that they may marry. This is the start of a beautiful love story. It would be “inconceivable” that anything would keep them apart.

Enter pain. Buttercup gets word that Westley has been killed, and she has been forcibly taken as a bride for Prince Humperdink. Buttercup is kidnapped as part of a plan for the instigation of war, then rescued by a masked stranger. She soon discovers that her rescuer is Westley, who had never died. At this moment all seems hopeful again, until they enter the Fire swamp, to avoid Humperdink’s army, where the challenges force them to face possible death again.

This is the part in the story where I feel like I visit too often. I see the headlines. I watch the legislative processes. I read the proposed bills. I rub my eyes, wondering if it is all really happening while we are watching. And like Buttercup, the thought creeps in, “We will never survive.” The issues seem too big. They threaten the very lives of our families and children. I wonder what a person like me possibly can do to stop this huge giant in front of me should I try.  I think of getting sucked into quicksand, burned by the bursts of fire, or attacked by a rodent of unusual size. While these are elements of the movie, we see the parallels of the threats and dangers in real life. And this is where I tend to pause, facing my own thoughts like Buttercup.

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Where Did You Go?

by Jamie Bonnema

It seems that the ink in the pen has been dry for quite a while. The fluid thoughts and heartfelt responses to everyday life came to a screeching halt when suddenly more was on the plate than anyone expected. The moments in which ideas did began to form were stolen by the harsh reality of the aggressive type of reactions that were happening so frequently—by people we love, by colleagues, by neighbors, by friends, by family members, and by people we have never even met, too.

And so, many, many blogs ended with only a first paragraph, and abandoned with more disheartening thoughts, adding to the already heavy burden: What if this is taken the wrong way? Will this be taken out of context? Will people understand the heart behind the thoughts or will they read it in their own tone and apply their own pre-conceived perspective to the meaning? For someone just trying to do good, provoke thought, and challenge our own thinking, this has been a writer’s dream (with so much to write about) and nightmare (I am opening myself up to attack) all in one.

There are times when God gives us a message and we just go. Other times we second guess that message, maybe deciding if it is safe to proceed or not. Subconsciously we are weighing the cost. But all too often, we forget to weigh the cost of not acting—and those consequences we may not even be able to imagine. But God knows the cost from all angles. He also knows the blessing should we follow Him.

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