Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Walking With Leaves: A Lesson in Trust

I pick up leaves and name them. Then I drop them onto the pavement.

I try to walk once a day for a few miles. Walking, I have found, is good therapy. Since my "job" keeps me at the computer for most of the day, I need to exercise away from it.

Walking not only improves my physical health, but it allows me time to view cardinals, flowering crepe myrtle trees, and an occasional deer or turtle.

Even though the benefits are vast, there are some days I don't feel like walking.

I have been in a season of wilderness for over two years now. I've slacked on my daily walks. I fret. I worry.

There's the problem of finances. Or lack of. There's the trouble with my children. There's their step-dad, my husband, and their relationship with him. There's a feeling of uncertainty about my future, whether or not I will get to continue to write and speak for a living. In all of this, I try to cling to the one thing that is certain in this changing fragile world---The Creator of the cardinals, the crepe myrtle, the deer, and turtle and me.

"God," I often say aloud as I walk through neighborhoods and on trails, "You are all I really have. Teach me how to trust you."

One day I'm on a walk in our neighborhood when the verse about God's burden being light comes to me. Another verse about God caring for the birds of the air rests in my cluttered mind.

Like I said, I worry about my loved ones. I am tired of being without enough money to make ends meet. I don't know if we can continue to pay our mortgage. I hate being in debt.

On this autumn afternoon, an idea comes to me. Bending, I pick up three leaves. Symbolically, I name them. Today I name a large magnolia leaf, "Children and their current struggles" and the second one, "Finances and our new carving business". The third one is, "My writing career".

As I walk, I gently toss the first leaf to my side. Then after a few more steps, I drop the next one.

With each leaf's release, I pray, "God, this is yours. I am dropping it now. It's a burden I am releasing to you. You take it. I know you love me. This I know."

Empty-handed after releasing these three leaves, why is it that it's easy to want to continue my worry?

Reluctance at the act of letting go fills me, spreading through my veins. Like I've lost something and I must go back for it. Is it because I don't know how to cope without giving into worry? Over the years, have I bought into the lie that fussing over things in my mind produces some sort of satisfaction or good?

I know that letting each leaf go means I can't carry it any longer. If I keep bothering with the concerns each of these leaves stands for, what is the point in letting them go?

As much as I want to be free from worry, how human-like it is for me to continue with my fretting. It's almost as though I want to find those leaves I deposited a half a mile ago and pick them up. But the reality is there: I would never be able to do that. They are strewn into the yards with other brown, red, and gold leaves like them. They are left there for a reason and unable to be identified as the ones I once held.

"God, take my burdens and help me to trust you with each one. I'm weary of carrying them all." With that, I don't look back, but forward. God has my troubled heart. That, I have to believe. I have to trust The One Who Knows and Loves Me or I might as well just take off my jacket, lay on the road, and give up.

Gradually, I increase my pace, smile at the setting sun. And I hope for tomorrow.

This is how I've learned to walk with leaves.

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