by Cassie Downs,
“Cass you need to pray! It’s not looking good for your Papa.”
The next call I received was letting me know he had passed. It was very unexpected and my heart wasn’t ready…is anyone’s ever though? That was January 2020. My pa and I were close and unlike my other grandparents, his death was very sudden and I didn’t get to say my I love you’s and goodbyes. I’ve lost many people in my life, but the suddenly’s are always harder. And then there’s God’s grace…soon after my Papa passed, I dreamt I was out to lunch when he walked up and hugged my while I wept saying my I love you’s and last goodbyes on this side of eternity. It was so real and helped my heart in ways no one will ever know. Yet, even today as I write to you, I’m weeping. I’m mourning.
“There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven:..” “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 CSB
It may sound excessive, but my season of mourning seems to have lasted since January, 2020. The crazy thing about it isn’t the fact it’s been three years, but that I am just recognizing it. For months I’ve prayed for God to show me what’s going on inside me. And for years, I’ve tried to push through my “season” and continue to perform for Jesus. It’s taken me three years and many transitions to see performing wasn’t working. And if you had asked me a year or even two years ago, I would tell you how much God wants us to be with Him above performing for Him. I would dare say I’ve prided myself on the fact that I’ve finally figured out the secret to a full lie in Christ is dependence on Him not production for Him. Pride should have been my first clue I was performing (insert head in hands).
You are probably thinking it’s not healthy to be in a place of mourning for so long. You’d be correct. But this is what I’ve realized. I’m not still mourning the loss of my Papa. I never really mourned to begin with. Confused yet? Welcome to my life.
Let me give you a rundown of life since January 2020.
January 2020, Papa passed; COVID Pandemic hit March 2020; we resigned leadership at our home church in June 2020; Grandma Jessie passed in June 2020; Chasing Jesus got lost in production in July 2020; I eventually canceled EJM’s Maui women’s retreat; Granny Great passed in November 2020 (I was very close with all my grandparents); speaking opportunities withered…and that’s just in 2020. For the last year I’ve experienced debilitating (at time) health issues, life as a mom of three teens has been a learning experience filled with weeping and dancing, and my oldest baby graduated High School.
Has there been dancing? Of course! But there have been many transitions I’ve yet to mourn. Rather than running to Jesus with my brokenness, I tried to perform through it and it’s gotten me stuck in a place. I hoped to be long past. Sometimes mourning is necessary so you can dance later. I want to dance, but I want it to be genuine. I’ve been dancing when I should have been weeping. The Lord spoke to me recently, and it has encouraged my heart. His words are allowing me to weep for a season. He said to me, “I need your dependence not your performance.”
I’ve been letting the poison of performance take the place of my dependence of Christ. I’ve let ministry be my help when it should’ve been Jesus. I’ve let three years of hard transitions keep me stuck in a place I was never meant to be this long. I’ve tried forcing my way out. Unrivaled, my last devotional was not God’s idea (just being real), it was a way to force myself into the place I wanted to go. And guess, what, it didn’t work. I barely sold copies compared to Chasing Jesus.
Obviously there are places the last few years that are absolutely where God wants me. Washed Away, our mobile laundry ministry, serving as group leaders for SE Online and serving how we can in our local church. These have been moments of dancing, but I can not become dependent on them and hoe I’m performing above my dependence on Jesus.
As I have been praying through this season, I’ve cried so many tears. I’ve allowed myself to mourn and I’ve said goodbye to places I’ve been that I may never go again. I’ve come to accept and mourn the idea that my writing isn’t meant to be forced, and it won’t be anymore. I don’t know God’s plan for my writing and that’s ok. If I never write another word, I trust God has something better for me. I trust He will use the words I’ve shared before to point others to Him. If I never stand on another stage and preach His word, that to is ok. I don’t need a stage to show people the love of Jesus. For now, I’m going to lean in to Jesus. I’m going to take a moment to mourn my loved ones, the faded parts of ministry, my son’s childhood and them I’m going to get up and dance with Jesus because He is SO good.
David said it best, and it’s been the verse I’ve clung to through this process… Italic “The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. He renews my life;..”
Psalms 23:1,3a CSB
We have a Good Shepherd who wants our total dependence. It’s in our dependence on Him we learn to dance.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”—Psalms 23:6 NKJV