I’m writing this vision statement after a long period of silence on my (Cassie, the Founder of Essence) end. First, I want to share with you what led me here.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve faced many trials and wrestled with my faith in deep and, at times, profoundly terrifying ways. I have lived nearly all my life in fear and shame, and despite a true and saving faith in Jesus, I found that no matter what, those “demons” were winning. Or so I believed at least.
I lacked trust in God. Sin seemed bigger, shame felt stronger, fear and anxiety played harder. My foundation was crumbling and for the first time, I was afraid that I was literally falling from faith. I thought one day, “I could really walk away.” Not that I wanted to walk away, but that my heart was becoming — had become — so cold and bitter, so angry and confused, that it might actually have led me to the point of walking away from God.
For years, I had been on a quest for personal freedom and deliverance from bondage. I had seen much progress, but I knew that deep inside something was still missing. Progress wasn’t enough. I wanted real freedom, I needed more truth and understanding, I was desperate for hope and faith: to believe what I hadn’t believed. With gratitude, I write now, understanding that as so much fell apart and crumbled in my life, that as my last futile attempts to control and hang on to human hope (that is no hope at all), God was shaking loose the false foundations I had been teetering on. He had uprooted me like a tree whose roots were being choked by weeds, by lies, and slammed me against the pillar of truth until the deceptions and false beliefs had fallen to the ground. He was shaking the dust off my heart and cutting away the sin that entangled me.
And, although He’ll continue to break off anything that is not from Him, the past few months have been a settling, planting, and fruit-producing time. I’ve grown closer to God in knowledge, relationship, trust, and love. I’ve noticed changes in myself and transformation that only God can bring about — and others have too. Finally, after much repentance and many tears, I am learning now to fix my gaze on Jesus…not on myself, my sin, or the sins of others. I had been so fixated on myself and my flaws, weaknesses, issues, etc., that I never knew how little I was really able to see of Christ: how little I believed in His promises, His words, and His perfect love open to be received by all who are willing.
So, getting on to the point of all this: the vision I now have, and I’m sure it is one that will still change as the years go by, is to create a platform for God’s children to tell of His words, His works and His very essence. I will always aim to be honest and obedient to portray the truth to the best of my knowledge. I will never post something rushed or sloppy, but will always be thoughtful and intentional about my words, but I do admit that I am human nonetheless. I will make mistakes, I will change and grow as time passes, and I will be challenged in my beliefs and understanding. As a very deep thinker, I’ve always struggled to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on my own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5), but I have finally come to recognize the vast limitations of my mind. God is God, I am not. A lesson I am often reminded of.
With that said, I still want people — myself included — to be able to share openly and honestly about where they are right now, what they understand or don’t understand, and the knowingly or unknowingly imperfect beliefs they have today. The goal is to discover the truth, because there is no relativism when it comes to Christ, while being free to recognize our humanity and mistakes, together. Instead of acceptance of all beliefs and ideas no matter the cost, Essence Ministry is about God’s call to accept all people, where they are, no matter the cost…but not accepting sin.
Through this platform, I hope to challenge not only myself, but my friends, family, and fellow believers all over the world to learn how to:
1) Compassionately seek someone’s heart in a matter, ask them why, and not be afraid to ask to hear more, even if we disagree or feel uncomfortable.
2) Listen well. In a world where everyone is talking and very few are listening, we want to be people who not just listen, but listen well and wholeheartedly.
3) Challenge in love, with the intent to discover truth. Meaning, we won’t let our fears stop us from speaking up when we feel God prompting us to or we know we need to, yet we won’t attack or argue for the sake of arguing, winning, being right, or even out of well-intended but misdirected (or mishandled) passion. Instead, we want to speak to others in a way that says, “I am for you. For your growth, your freedom, your health. I want what’s best for you: I want what God wants for you.”
4) Live and love as we are called to love in the Bible. We do not serve the god of love, but we do serve a loving God whose very being is love, among many other things. We must allow our needs to be met in God first and foremost, so that we do not love out of codependency, neediness, insecurity, etc. Loving people like Jesus loved means many things, but one of the key elements I’ve come to discover is that we must love from a place of wholeness in Christ. We don’t desperately try to change or fix, but we live and love in a way that says, “I will make sacrifices for you, I am here for you, I will not neglect to share the truth with you because of my own discomfort, but I won’t allow your well-being to determine my own.”
5) Celebrate one another in diversity and learn to live interdependently, as the Body of Christ is meant to operate. Jesus’ prayers for unity and oneness in Him and as His Church were abundant and let us in on a crucial secret. We must not stand alone. His will for us is to be ONE.
6) Rejoice!!! Praise God for the eternal salvation He has brought to us. Trust, believe, hope, endure! Fix our gaze on the things that matter, on the prize of life forevermore with Christ, on the beauty of His splendor and revel in the Essence of His Being!