Right here…: “Waiting here” Song Story

In 2013, I was spread thin, rushing around, and beyond tired. I was leading worship at FRC, mentoring fellow individuals with disabilities through the local Center for Independent Living, coaching a young musician, serving on staff for a teen center, and directing a camp for high school students three-and-a-half hours from home. I was busy and felt extremely fulfilled, but there were days I nearly crumbled.
My work at FRC was fairly routine and relatively easy. I was grateful for the fact that I could live out my faith without apology. My co-workers were believers and so were my team members. At every turn, I felt love and support.
But my other job roles were more challenging. I had spent a great deal of my life in the sheltered Christian bubble. I became a member of my church at 15, went to a Christian school from 6th-8th grade, attended church youth group and led in-school Bible studies, attended two Christian colleges… It wasn’t often that I encountered people outside of my typical frame of life.
But the more I began to serve outside of the walls of the church, the more people I encountered from different lifestyles and backgrounds. It brought about some significant conversations about life, faith, and perspective, and sometimes, it didn’t go well. Right away, I’m thinking of a night at Camp. I had just finished leading a staff meeting, and I took my Bible over to the CCTV so I could spend some time reading God’s Word. That’s when the first verbal attack came from one of my staff:
“What’s that— a Bible? You’re going to read that?” He said “that” like it was something offensive.
“Yes,” I answered.
“But why?” he pressed. “You know it’s just a bunch of made-up stories, right?”
And that was just the beginning of a discussion that spanned more than an hour. I answered the best I could, but at every turn, I felt like my faith was under attack. He had a response for everything! I would hardly get a word in before he debated yet another aspect of my faith. I held it together until it was well after midnight, silently pleading with God, begging Him to give me the words in response to this man’s incessant rebuttal.
“It sounds like you’re living for the moment you die! How ridiculous! What if you’re wrong, and there really is no God? All of this is a waste of your time,” he taunted.
“I don’t look at it that way,” I said. “Wouldn’t you rather live your life with the hope of spending eternity in heaven than have no hope at all?”
And on and on it went… until finally, mercifully, he excused himself for the night and went to his room. On shaking legs, I walked to my suite and let myself in. I couldn’t hold back the pent-up tears much longer, and my roommate heard me. She came out of her room to greet me, and the whole thing spilled out.
“Why am I crying over him?” I remember choking out between my tears. “I don’t even like him.”
“But deep down, you love him,” my roommate said, breaking through my tear-filled haze. “I know it doesn’t make sense, but God has given you this love.”
Deep down, I knew she was right. I cared deeply about each one of my staff. Many of them are still close friends today. It didn’t take them long to learn of my convictions. I wasn’t as if I stood up in the front of the auditorium and declared my testimony during large group session, but moment by moment I was able to share my faith story. Some received it well; others respectfully shared their thoughts:
“Cassie, it’s good that you have this faith, but it’s not for me. I’ve spent my whole life trying to be independent and self-sufficient. I don’t need anyone or anything to save me or make me whole. Believing in God is for weak people, and I’m certainly not weak.”
“God would never want anything to do with me. I’ve made too many mistakes, screwed up too many times. He couldn’t possibly love me.”
“I don’t understand why God would create me like this… broken, with a deformity, a disability. How could he possibly use me if I can’t do the things others can do so easily? Does he even love me?
It was these last words that struck me most profoundly. I have lived my entire life with a disability, and I have never once questioned God’s love. Of course, I have felt the sting of rejection— the feeling like I can’t measure up to my able-bodied peers. I know what it’s like to ask for help when all I want to do is complete something on my own. I don’t like to need people, and it’s in times of need and rejection that I question God’s plan. I know God has created me this way, and he has a purpose for me, even in the presence of my disability. But the questions come when life just doesn’t seem fair. I can’t change the fact that I have a disability, but somehow, I wish I could will away the challenges that come with it. If only I could drive, then I could help more around the community. I get frustrated because I hire someone to clean my house, all because I’m insecure about the messes that I can’t see with limited vision. Heaven forbid there would be something on the floor that my guests would see and they would be so appalled that they would never come to my house again! I sometimes dread going shopping for clothes because I know I won’t be able to get a good sense of whether or not something looks good on me unless I rely on someone else’s opinion.
I have written about this concept before, referring to it as the “Compensation Game.” It relates to this idea of finding ways to compensate for the fact that I have a disability. If I just try harder, excel at everything, and exceed expectations, maybe then everyone will forget that I am limited.
I imagine it’s similar to what my peers with disabilities felt like when they were introduced to a God who offers unconditional love. If a person has spent all of their life trying to fit into society, wouldn’t it be much the same in relationship with God?
All of the above and so much more inspired my song “Waiting here.” I actually started writing it on the way to the grocery store one day. I was feeling a bit lighter since it was early Spring and the deadlines for Camp weren’t looming on the horizon yet. I was contemplative too, and before long, my thoughts drifted to the many people I had encountered over the course of the past year… so many people broken, without hope, striving for something they couldn’t find on their own. If only they would reach out to their Creator, embrace a relationship with Him, bask in the incredible reality of His unconditional love. But I knew it wasn’t that easy. I couldn’t just snap my fingers and all of my co-workers and friends would suddenly embrace faith. I could pray, however, and my prayers became focused on restoration, a release of doubt and fear, and that these friends would know that His love was waiting for them at any turn; they only needed to reach out and take hold of it.
I wish I could say that all of my prayers have been answered. I still long for the salvation of many of these friends and co-workers. More than anything, my tears still flow for the antagonistic staff member who saw my Bible and launched into an all-out debate. I haven’t seen him for many years now, but the pain from that night is still so sharp, it’s as if it happened yesterday. “Waiting here” is a song of hope for those who are on the fringes, who are so close but yet so far away from embracing the Gospel.
“His love is waiting here… right here.”

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