The other morning, I took a visit to Mount Sequoyah. Perching myself on one of the pews, I let my gaze drift from the altar – the very place where Eric and I said our forever vows to each other – to the world around that altar. This outdoor sanctuary will always hold a special place in my heart, and one day I cannot wait to bring our kids here and reminisce. I will tell them of how their dad had tears coming down his face before I even got to the aisle. Probably before the bridesmaids were even walking down. I will tell them of how their grandfather, after giving me away, tripped over my dress on his way to his seat. And I will tell them of how perfect a day it was. No matter how many times I have told it before.
Arkansas weather is in that stage where, one moment it will be sunny and warm, but the next cloud cover comes and completely changes the necessary clothing for being outside. I was trying to grab the last few moments of sunshine before the clouds came in, and as I tucked my legs under me on that wooden pew, I asked the Lord what He wanted to show me.
My “word” for the year is listening – learning to listen to God, specifically. This is the discipline I have always struggled with in my walk. I am able to grasp the concept of doing the talking in prayer, but the listening part is always interrupted by things to do or stories replaying in my mind or songs that I can’t stop humming. It is not often that I make the time to leave the house and just “be” with God. The concept of solitude seems best played out in nature, as it is one of the only places besides my house where I can be alone. It is the place where, in the past, I have heard Him speak, so part of my goal this year is to take more time for solitude outdoors.
And, in the midst of trying to clear my mind and listen, I didn’t necessarily hear anything specific. I warmed my hands on my travel mug of chai and allowed myself to simply sit for awhile. The rustling of leaves came alive, and as I watched the branches sway to the wind’s beckoning, I noticed the way some trees were still holding leaves. Brown, crinkly, dead leaves – the kind that should fall in November and crunch under your feet. For some reason, some trees had not let go of them, despite the nearness of spring and the anticipation of new greens.
Driving home, I started to wonder why it was that most trees had lost all of their leaves in the preparation for the next season, but a select few were still holding on. Not that trees can think, obviously, but – if they could – did they forget that a new season brings new life, even though they had experienced it before? Were they worried that they would lose these last few leaves they held dear, not realizing the capability for new life which lies in their branches?
What do I cling to from past seasons of life? Where do I need to let go of a hurt, or a burden, or an identity, which might be standing in the way of God producing something new in me? Or even, am I looking at things currently in the lens of the past?
The last question is probably what strikes me the most. I can very easily measure myself now against my college self, and criticize what I am doing now compared to what I was doing then. Am I less intentional now? Or am I learning to live in a new season of life?
I don’t want to cling to the past in an effort to hold together what was once important.
I want to recognize where God has me now and what He is doing now.
I want to believe that He is constantly doing something new in me.
I want to live expectantly, walking in faith that He will provide for this season ahead.
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” -Isaiah 43:18-19