Episode #323 — It’s been a memorable two years for Mike Donehey. The longtime lead singer of the beloved CCM staples, Tenth Avenue North, said farewell to the band that’s shaped so much of his story early last year when the gentlemen of Tenth Avenue decided it was time to amicably part ways.

The plan was for a national farewell tour. A chance to thank their fans and say a proper goodbye. Then – of course – life changed for all of us. The shows were cancelled. The music stopped. And Mike found a chapter of his life closed with what seemed like the slam of a door instead of the gradual transition he’d imagined. He says it was a real struggle to accept how things had played out, but now he looks back with a quite different perspective.

As the music of Mike’s debut solo project Flourish began to take shape, so did a realization. He needed to let himself feel the pain of the loss of that chapter of his life before he could experience the joy on the other side.

“Psalm 126. That’s where I got that thought. It says, ‘Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.’ Now, I remember I read that when I was in college, and I saw – so those who pray really hard will reap shouts of joy. They’ll get what they want. That’s what I thought that verse was saying.”

“But now, as I’ve talked to a lot of therapist friends and counselors, they all agree, No, no. What that’s saying is you actually have to stop numbing your sadness, and actually feel the weight of it and grieve  properly. And actually, the lower you go – the more you open yourself up – the flip side is true. The more it opens up at the top, and the more you’re capable of joy. The two are interrelated.”

There’s a courage that’s needed to live that way, and Mike says it’s the same courage we display when we dare to hope. He digs deeper.

“We talk a lot about hope, right? Christians talk a lot about hope. Tenth Avenue North had a song called I Have This Hope. And we think that hope is the alternative to sadness. But here’s the problem with hope. Hope deals the hardest blow. It’s actually in Proverbs – hope deferred makes the heart sick. In other words, the problem with hope is that you’re opening yourself up to be disappointed.”

“But here’s the deal. The reason Christians talk so much about hope is that, as Ephesians would say, the sting has been taken out of death. And I would expand that. I’d say the sting has been taken out of disappointment. Every failure i have, every disappointment I experience, it’s not the end. It’s not the period on my story, because I have a future and my hope is in Heaven. And so that allows me to move from disappointment to disappointment and keep hoping. As Winston Churchill said, ‘Success is moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.'”

Mike Donehey is the effervescent & earnest recording artist with the brand new, just-released solo debut project called Flourish.

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On the Road with Mike Donehey