This autumn has been one of reflection for me. It is my favorite time of the year. The beautiful colors, the cool crisp breeze… I feel like I can finally breathe again when fall hits. So I spent a lot of time pondering the lessons that fall can teach me this year, and I realized that I could learn a lot about letting go from the trees.
Just think about it. Why do trees shed their leaves before each winter? What would happen if they didn’t?
At first thought I honestly didn’t know. Maybe the cold made them fall off, like frostbite. Maybe it had to do with some growth cycle… But as I researched and learned more about this I realized that my initial thoughts weren’t too far off!
Trees lose their leaves in the fall because if they didn’t they would die.
If they held onto the leaves that no longer served a purpose to help the tree survive the next season coming up the tree would die. The tree would become starved and parched for water and food that was no longer coming in like it did during the spring and summer. Additionally, if the tree held onto the dead weight of the leaves through the winter it would bend and break under the weight of all the snow that would pile up on the leaves. So, right there we learn two valuable lessons.
Holding onto dead and dying parts of us starves the living parts of us of the valuable resources (food, water, and energy) that we need to survive.
And two, holding onto dead or dying parts of us only provides more opportunity for us to hold onto more things that will weigh us down, and ultimately break us down.
What I Gain From Letting Go
So, how does letting go of the leaves help the trees do more than just survive? Well, when the tree releases those dead parts of itself and allows those open spaces where the leaves were attached to close up it holds onto the valuable nutrients and resources that it desperately needs to survive the winter months. Avoiding the dehydration and starvation that would occur if they kept trying to keep dead pieces alive.
It also makes it harder for snow and ice to cause unnecessary stress and pressure on the tree. Instead of having all this surface area to catch the snow and ice in winter, the tree that release its leaves can let the snow and ice more easily fall away leaving it feeling lighter and less weighed down.
I don’t know if it’s painful for a tree to let go of all its leaves. But I do know that it is BEAUTIFUL to watch. The process of releasing the old dead parts to make room for the growth and beauty that comes afterwards is breathtaking. I believe the same can be said of us and our process of letting go.
Beauty from the Pain
Now, if I asked you if you had something you were holding onto that you should let go of, I’m guessing your answer would be yes. I know that that is my answer. There are things that we cling to that do nothing but hold us back. It hurts to think of letting a piece of us go, something that used to be so alive in us. But the Bible tells us to let things go.
Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “[…] I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Emphasis added.)
And in Ephesians 4:31 he says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”
In other words… Let. It. Go!
Letting go frees you.
Letting go makes room for being kind, tenderhearted, joyful, and forgiving.
View letting go not as a loss of something but as gaining something. Something absolutely beautiful.
You gain the lightness needed to grow to new heights. Freedom to walk into a better, brighter future. New joy and new life where death used to be the only thing that lingered.
So, learn a lesson from the trees today. Release the dead parts of you that no longer help you as you move forward towards your goals. Letting go of that extra weight will help you to grow to new heights that will not be possible if you keep hanging on to what you should be letting go of. We are not created to live in bondage. We are created for freedom.