I was running last week and I saw this tree, it had the most amazingly orange leaves. I live in Texas, so this is rare. And I started thinking about leaves.

We celebrate the leaves changing, because it’s beautiful, it means winter is coming, it means spring will bring new growth, it means scarves and boots and pumpkin spiced everything under the sun. We celebrate it. But what is actually happening is not as lovely as we think. Those leaves are dying. They have served their purpose in the life of the tree. And as the days shorten and the temperature drops, the tree sheds the leaves it no longer needs and prepares for new life.

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And I was thinking about when the leaves fall and we rake them into piles and jump into them, screaming with delight and abandon. I thought to myself “In my life, when parts of me are dying off to make room for new life, it is so painful, but I know it’s best. Why do I not find more joy in that?” I’m not talking happiness here, because it’s hard to be happy when your sin is exposed and called out, or a relationship ends, or a job is lost. Those parts are dying off because God is creating something new, but there can be joy. Joy that knows the morning will come, joy that knows this is for our good, joy that knows no matter how dark or hopeless our circumstances seem, God is for us, and He is working all things together for the good of those who love him.

Because I think we can find abandon and freedom in the “autumns” of life. We can take those leaves that have been pruned from us, and we can rake them into a pile and we can scream and laugh and cry because we know the spring is coming. We know that new growth will come and replace the old, dead things. Sometimes the leaves falling in our lives are good things, like feeling led to go to a new church or seeing a friendship change because of distance. These things have served their purpose, and now they are falling from the tree. Sometimes the things that fall are harsher, losing a loved one, divorce, arguments, lost jobs, secret sin exposed, someone calling you to repent of a sin you struggle with, you get the point. Those things have come to serve a purpose, and they are done and they must drop from the tree to form a space for new growth.

So I have decided that when those things are pointed out to me (those sins I think no one sees but they do) or when a part of my life is ending and has served it’s purpose, I’ll remember the leaves of Autumn, the piles of “leaves” raked, and I will jump into those with abandon and joy, not anger, fear, and regret, because I will know that my God is making space for new growth, and that new growth will be lovely. I will trust the process, just as the trees do, and know that each time the leaves fall, new ones grow, and that will continue until God calls me home.

Kacy Davis lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, Collin. She is a special education teacher and advocate of those with special needs and loves her job. She spends her time riding bikes with her husband, running, reading, and enjoying those she loves. Kacy believes in reinventing what it means to be a woman and wife who loves the Lord and longs to help others learn to love the Lord with abandon, freedom, and a greater understanding of grace. She writes here.