I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with fall. I love how visually stunning fall is–showing off its gold and red colors–and I adore the neon green hue of the leaves right before they turn yellow. The crisp mornings that turn into warm afternoons seem to awaken all of my senses. Yet all of this goodness can at times for me be overshadowed by the fact that winter is coming and summer has passed. No more flip-flops and sunshine for hours. The paddle boards are hanging up in my garage, taunting me with memories of sunscreen and toes in the water… leaving me with dread of cold dark days and a restless spirit. A good way to describe fall for me is that it can seem a bit like a holding place between the vibrancy and action of summer and the slow down cold of winter.
In the last few weeks, I have felt God patiently telling me to make time for deep appreciation of a season that I actually do find beautiful, even if I see it as a holding place. He has asked me to be diligent in resting in fall and being present in the beauty taking place. No mourning of summer gone or dread of winter on its way. Which brings me to where I find myself the most in the last few weeks... in my backyard on my swing, taking in the changing of the colors that are right before my eyes. My yard still has trees with green leaves as well as yellow leaves, and in yards beyond I can see the tops of vibrant red foliage.
Yesterday was a day that I could have gotten a lot done that needed done in my house, but my time on the swing lasted from morning, with coffee in hand and a blanket on my lap, to the afternoon, with blanket tossed aside and warm rays being soaked up by my skin. It seemed that every time I tried to get up, Holy Spirit would whisper to my spirit, Stay. So I stayed. In those moments of staying in the present, God allowed for both the past and the future to pay me a visit.
As I sat there, God reminded me of where I had been exactly two years prior. To most, it would seem that I was living the dream. I had an amazing, happy and healthy family, a great set of friends, and was on staff at a church as executive pastor. I mentored, prayed for, and loved on our church community; had opportunity to teach messages on occasional Sunday; and felt like I was living out what I had been created to do. But what most people around me didn’t see was the 8-10 panic attacks I would experienced each day. I was smack dab in the middle of a nervous breakdown while I was smack dab in the middle of my dream life. There are many stories to be told of my journey from there to now, and they will come. But for now, I’ll go back to yesterday in my backyard, sitting in my swing. As I was reminiscing of that time in my life, God suddenly showed me a picture of a quote I had saved to my phone a few months back.
“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.” –Author unknown
At that exact moment, the wind came up and a beautiful whirlwind of leaves left their tree and took sail across the sky. Everything in me felt as if the breath of God gave those leaves permission to dance their way out! I was struck by the beauty of watching the leaves taking flight in the sky–so much more enchanting than seeing them hang on until all life was gone and the only option was to drop to the ground. I felt like there was permission in that moment to explore some questions I had in my heart about letting go. If I completely let go of these last two years, will my story fall flat, and be completely forgotten? Who will I be, and where will I go if I let go and move on? Will I be forgotten? What if I let go, and it’s my only story?
In my mind, the story of my last two years (although profoundly precious) has been so deeply painful, that I thought if I completely let go, it would mean that part of my life would be null and void. Dead. Over. Nothing left of me, with no forward momentum for a new chapter. While wrestling with those thoughts and questions it seemed as if God was giving me a choice: I could keep hanging on until I am dried up, with no life and no vibrancy left, OR I could allow Him to breathe new life on my story and watch it dance into the wind.
So because I’m inquisitive, and always want further information, I quickly wanted to know, What it would look like for me to let my story dance on the wind? And He graciously gave me some answers. It meant that I could come out of hiding! That I am not meant to just hang dormant, but that I’m created to soar and dance with the very Creator who breathes life in me! He gently reminded me of what I already knew, yet had so greatly denied… that the last two years of my life doesn’t define who I am, even though it has most certainly added rich color and vibrancy for me to take flight to higher places. My story isn’t over, the best hasn’t already happened, and THERE IS MORE!
One of my favorite conversations in the Bible takes place after Jesus’ good friend, Lazurus, dies after being quite ill. Jesus knew that Lazurus was ill and yet still took His sweet time getting to Lazarus’ house and by the the time He does arrive, Lazarus has been buried (John 11: 1-44). Now enter the conversation with Martha (my take). Martha isn’t very pleased with Jesus and meets Him with disappointment, questions, and accusations of not being there. Jesus in turn tells her that Lazurus will be raised up, and Martha hastily replies that she understands someday he will live again. Jesus is quick to remind her that you don’t have to wait for the end to live, but that HE IS RIGHT NOW both resurrection and life. From there they all take the journey to the burial site of Lazurus. After weeping (yes Jesus weeps with you in your sorrow), and showing His anger (He also is angry over injustice that comes your way), Jesus then shouts “Lazurus, come out!”
Beautiful, isn’t it? Seemingly, Lazurus (and his story) were in a holding place until the next life. Yet Jesus came in with a promise of Life, not just life beyond this one, but life here and now! Yes, He took time to acknowledge and feel the pain of that moment, and with the very breath of His spoken words, He brought the dead to life by calling Lazurus forward and cutting loose the grave clothes that were holding Lazurus back from freedom.
So my questions to you would be the same questions I’ve been asking myself in this current season change. Are there places and pieces in you that God is calling to life? Places you thought were just going to hang dormant, with nowhere to go except to fall? Will you courageously allow that piece of you to lift off and soar into the next season? This I know is true: The One who gave you life is ready to breathe on you today, ALL OF YOU. Even the part of you that is scared to let go, the part of you that mourns the past yet dreads the future. I for one, am ready! Maybe we will catch glimpse of each other soaring and dancing as we allow the breath of Heaven to show us the way!? I’ll be that color that a leaf turns right before the yellow–you know the one–a vibrant, glowing hue that looks like it’s excited for what’s coming, yet okay with where it’s been.
Kim has spent 13 years pastoring people in the Church and her community. She has a passion to not only see marriages thrive, but to see all people freed from trauma and living fully in their true identities. Married for 22 amazing years, she and her husband, Justin, have two incredible teenagers, Jordan and Kloe. Kim loves the way God speaks to her through the beauty of nature. She also finds joy in the sunshine, paddle boarding, and a good belly laugh.