On Falling and Letting Go

Years ago, there was a tree in our front yard whose leaves turned a deep, gorgeous red every Autumn. We lived in a split-level home and the branches of the tree were eye level with our living room window.

One year, long after all of the other leaves had fallen, there was one leaf left. Positioned in the midst of the branches where the strong winds couldn’t reach it, it clung there. As the chill in the air grew colder, the deep red color faded into a grayish brown, yet the leaf just kept on hanging on. Week after week, month after winter month, it stayed in its safe place, never letting go.

Have you ever been there? I have.

Maybe it’s fear that holds us back.

Afraid to jump.

Afraid to fall.

Afraid to let go.

Afraid to face a new season.

Maybe it’s just plain stubbornness.

Refusing to give in.

Refusing to admit its time.

Refusing to relinquish this dream, this method, or this place we call home.

Falling hurts.

I like it here.

I’ve made a place for myself.

I mattered once.

Change is frightening.

I can’t control it.

What if I land in the wrong place?

I don’t want to die.

What if all I’ve lived for fades away?

We hang on for dear life, in our safe little space, hiding from the wind and the storms of change that threaten to knock us down. With our eyes, hands, and hearts squeezed tightly shut, we refuse to give in to the dying.

And yet—in our refusal to die willingly, we die anyway.

The leaf never fell. But it still died.

Every day of that long Ohio winter, it hung there—a brown spot of death in an otherwise beautiful tree. As thick layers of sparkling white snow coated the branches, the leaf stood out in ugly contrast. As the snow melted and bright blooms began to appear once more, the leaf remained a blemish of what once was in a season of new.

What if it had fallen when it was called to fall? Yes, it would have died. Yes, it would have blown away, never to be thought of again.

But its death would have resulted in life.

When leaves fall to the ground, they die—but it’s a glorious death. The vivid quilt of fallen leaves brings joy to every eye that beholds it, to every child who runs leaping into its beauty.

As the colors fade and the leaves decay into the ground, death begins its life-giving work. The decomposing leaves feed the soil, transforming into the nutrients needed to grow deep forests, flowering meadows, and a world overflowing with lush Spring green.

Letting go is a dying–a dying to self–but without the dying, the living stops.

Is God calling you to let go of something? I know it’s overwhelming. I know it hurts. Believe me, I know, and I’m so sorry that it hurts.

But it’s going to be okay.

Because you see, the thing about letting go is—it isn’t a falling at all. God carries you the whole way down.

Go ahead and trust him.

Let go.

It’s going to be beautiful.