Has there ever been a time when you’ve had to push through in a situation? How did that test your faith?
Just when I was starting college, I had a talk with my parents about what major I was going to study, where I was going to move afterwards and why all of this was on my heart. After sharing my dreams and visions with them, I did everything it took to get through school and find a job in the fashion industry. After a few years I was able to live in New York but moved away because of another job opportunity. However, the whole time I was away from New York, I was not at peace and, in little ways, kept getting reminded of the visions and dreams Jesus put in my heart for cities like New York. So I packed up and moved back. Dealing with some leftover stress, confusion and bitterness, I assumed it would be a brilliant idea to work out until all those feelings were transferred out. Not a good idea: I ended up pushing myself past all limits and into kidney failure—as well as severe muscle damage in both of my thighs called compartment syndrome. After several days of being in intensive care, my kidneys were still in a bad place, and I was scheduled to start kidney dialysis. About five minutes after hearing that news, the physical therapist for my legs came in to discuss options to move to a rehabilitation center back home—not in New York City—to begin rebuilding the muscle they were able to save so I could learn to walk, climb stairs, sit, squat, etc.
I thought I had gotten all of the dreams and visions wrong; there was no way I was going to be released from that hospital or able to walk the streets of this city. How would I do everyday New York life normally with the stairs and the commute? But I couldn't shake what I had seen and heard from God, so I went to Jesus and just starting praying over the situation, my city and claiming in His name that I was going to be able to stay here. Immediately I felt the presence of angels in the room and an overwhelming amount of peace. I had one more surgery to go, but Jesus had already healed my heart, removing the anger and bitterness that I’d been carrying around and trying myself to get rid of through exercise. Right before my dialysis, the nurse came in checked my levels once more. My numbers were down by more than half, and no dialysis was needed. I also ended up learning and being able to walk before my second leg surgery; I was out of the hospital in two weeks!
I only got to this point by first allowing God to heal my heart. With a whole and healed heart, I can now be a light as I walk around in my day-to-day life. In that He recharged my love for the people in this city, and I wanted to get better for them. This 100% tested my faith because this was a journey to get to the position where I could actually believe that God’s promise for each of us is still concrete and real no matter what storms we are in, no matter what giants we face. In Numbers 13, the people of Israel are scouting the Promised Land and witness giants in their land. Verse 30 says, “But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’” I just constantly go back to that passage and ask Jesus to keep showing me how to see the promise past the giants.
Endurance doesn’t always sound like the most pleasant experience, have you ever persevered through a situation and come out the other side to something greater?
Endurance sounds like work, right? And exhausting work at that! I picture endurance as stocking up energy and figuring out how to strategically release it at the right times to keep going. You cannot release energy if you have not stocked up, but the key is to stock up with the right source of energy. In my own story, I came to New York with good intentions but was getting my endurance from the wrong place. I knew that my personality was joyful, happy, excited about life, so when I was not feeling that way I thought could just release the bitterness, the anger, the hurt by refocusing that into exercise. Now I see that I was trying to pour out without receiving anything to replenish. I was dry in the heart—not jumping in the Word. Now I know when I am at work, Dinner Party, church—or just walking down the street—and that bitterness starts to creep in, I can look into my prayer life, my quality time with Jesus and see if I am getting my endurance from Him.
Why do you think we are sometimes allowed to be pushed to our limits?
The more I thought about this question the more I started to ask myself: who actually sets my limits? I am the one of setting and capping my limits from what I have heard the world tell me. However, if I fully believe I’m a daughter to Jesus and that He has not limited me, then I am an inheritor of that freedom and authority. If I truly believe the dreams and visions that Jesus has put on my heart then I also believe I have unlimited access to ask Him to lead me down those paths to fulfill His will. We have been granted full access to be filled with His joy on the journey—full access to His boldness, courage and wisdom. We are really just asked to trust Him and the gift He has given us to bust through the limitations we have set.
How do you think your persevering heart has helped you fight through and become stronger?
I’m still on the way to becoming stronger. I always knew, whenever I moved to New York, that I had purpose, but I only had like fifty percent. Now, instead of seeing just my purpose, I’ve started getting glimpses of other people’s purposes. In the beginning of my story, I did it alone, but now I’ve learned to persevere with others. A lot of people think being vulnerable means showing the front and back cover of your book. But being vulnerable means showing the nasty chapters so that, as a group, you can keep flipping the pages together. As I pushed through my own journey with my legs—getting out of the hospital, doing what I needed to do in therapy—that gave me the motivation to show up to Dinner Party and church. That meant I showed up to hear people’s stories, which meant I could figure out how to be a light whatever room I walk into.
What advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is going through a valley and struggling with perseverance?
As I’ve been at the C3 USA Conference this week, I’ve been asking myself just that question. One of the pastors was talking about how you have to give hope but you also have to reveal the truth of situations. Like, Moses wasn’t courageous enough to say what God asked him to say about circumcision and setting the people apart for the Promised Land. He didn’t say the scary stuff. Instead, Joshua had to be courageous and pick up the slack [Joshua 5:2-9]. So instead of saying, “Oh it’s fine, Jesus will come through; keep praying,” I want to reveal the wound that someone keeps going back to and see it healed. It means I too need to be more courageous. If the writing is on the wall, I want to say so in a loving way. What if someone had said to me, “Hey Cassy, instead of being so bitter and running and working out, why don't you find the root of your problem instead?” You can get mad at God about your situations, or you can ask Him questions. Instead of settling for cookie-cutter hope, how can you actually quick picking at the sore and ask for healing? It’s scary. Ask yourself the hard questions because it’s easy to avoid them. When you’re in your situation, you have to ask “Why did I get here?” I didn’t get in the hospital because I worked out too much; I purposely got there because I chose to keep lacing up my workout shoes instead of resolving the real problem. Ask yourself why you’re in the middle of doing what you’re doing. If it’s good, keep doing it! If it’s not…well, stop! Pray the tough prayers!