It wasn’t until I moved north that Fall took on a whole new meaning. The charming season now warms a special place in my heart. The very word conjures up memories of apple picking, pumpkin carving, hot cider, and the delicious aroma of Grandma’s pie baking in the oven!
Every year I look forward to pulling out my weathered box from its nestled place in the basement, rediscovering the rustic decor that will soon adorn my home. This year, as I sat down to admire my handiwork, my eye caught a glimpse of the trees out back. Tall and proud, they line the yard with their fiery blaze of reds, oranges, and yellows announcing that summer is officially gone and winter is sure to come.
Soaking in the moment, I was suddenly struck by the irony of it all. The very leaves I admire are actually dying before my very eyes. The thought was slightly disturbing and fascinating all at the same time.
How could death be so beautiful?
I was compelled to rustle through my memory from the old school days when we learned about the abscission of deciduous trees (science words make my head hurt). If the trees were going to survive the season, they must toughen up and dispose of their leaves. Not only is the loss of the leaves important but the nutrients that are received from that loss, and the chance for regrowth, is what guarantees longevity and new life in the spring.
I’ll be honest. Science makes me yawn. But as I gazed at the foliage, God whispered in my heart. There was something I needed to learn from the leaves.
If I want to survive the winters of life, I must change.
Change, like winter, is coming whether I like it or not. But I don’t like winter. Or change, for that matter. For some reason we see change as a threat to our well-being. It’s unpredictable and usually requires us to adjust. While I prefer to operate within the well defined lines of my comfort zone, staying comfortable will always keep me stagnant.
God allows change in my life because it’s necessary for growth. And He knows my growth is vital to surviving the winters ahead. If I don’t learn how to embrace change in my life, I won’t be prepared for the coming future. When I run into problems and trials, God is using them to produce perseverance, strength, and the character needed to survive the next season (Romans 5:3-5).
If I want to survive the winters of life, my leaves must die.
If I want to grow, I must lose my leaves. I must learn to let go of the things in my life that are entangling me and tripping me up. Fear. Insecurity. Doubt. Disappointment. Defensiveness. Control. Envy. These are my leaves. If I continue to hold onto these unhealthy attitudes and behaviors, I’m no different than a tree that stubbornly chooses to stay green. How ridiculous would it be if a tree decided not to change? If it held onto its leaves? Not only would it become more vulnerable to harsh circumstances but it would also miss out on new life in the spring.
It’s the same with us. Growth requires us to let go of one thing in order to gain another. I must let go of my need for control if I want to experience freedom. I need to stop striving for perfection if I want to experience grace. I must let go of my hurt in order to forgive. I need to let go of my rights and desire to control my life if I want to receive the new and abundant life Jesus has promised.
So I have chosen to lose my leaves this season. I am letting go of my need to protect myself, to control my life, and my desire to be perfect. At the same time, I am opening myself up to God’s amazing love, acceptance, and grace. As I change and grow, I am feeling more alive and free than I ever have before. I can’t help but smile as I watch my leaves slowly fall to the ground. Death really is beautiful because it produces new life.
And like Fall, this season of change is beautiful. It’s a season of letting go and embracing the change while we look forward to the promise of spring.