Autumn is a season with several negative connotations and a handful of positives. It’s the end of summer, the harvest fairs are everywhere, and in no time there will be snow. The first time I remember hearing about Seasonal Affect Disorder was in conversation with a high school friend, about the onset of depression she would experience in the months of October and November, sometimes reaching into the winter months. The cold weather comes, rain first, then snow and we shut ourselves in from the world but there are many things to celebrate in the Autumn season as well.
The colours, for example, are celebrated by many, even people coming from around the world to see the majestic maple ridge lines of the Algonquin Park. Throngs of tour buses and motor trains pack the gates of the park to be enthralled with the burst of colour that peaked just a few weeks ago. But when the leaves fall, I am reminded that what is just around the corner is a monochromatic and dreary transition into wet cold – neither of which are on my list of favourites when it comes to weather. I was reminded, however, by a post on Facebook that “trees teach us the beauty of letting go.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.1 Pet. 5:6-7
Depression, what my high school friend experienced, generally looks backward with a sense of unwellness over what has happened or over how you felt. My looking forward to the winter season can produce a sense of excitement, or it can produce anxiety – a general sense of unwellness and risk over what may be or what may come in the future. The reality is that most people experience periods of time where they struggle with one or the other; depression or anxiety.
By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness
Anxiety and Depression are the most common forms of mental illness, and are extremely common, if not as a persistent condition, as a temporary reality brought on by how we feel about events around us. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness. So how can we face trying circumstances and persevere through troubled waters? We have an example in the trees.
In preparation for winter, trees shed their leaves as a means to protect themselves. Not only does the thick collection of leaves provide benefits to the soil and root system, but if not shed, the tree would be left with thousands of dead and unproductive leaves stuck to them as dead weight. The leaves themselves lack the protective resins and waxes to survive the winter without cracking, caused by the moisture they contain freezing and expanding. Burdens from our past, and anxiety over the future can be just that – dead weight and if not shed, they can cause us to crack. Just as trees shed the unproductive memories of yesteryear, God gives his children 3 compelling reasons to let go of bitterness over the past, and fear of the future in 1 Peter 5:6-7:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Humble yourself. Thinking less of ourselves and more often of others makes it difficult to have a sense of wounded pride. And God, being the awesome creator of everything that ever was stands as a measure by which we can accurately admit “We’re not all that”
God has a plan. Exaltation is a verb and one that God has planned for a proper time for everything, including you. He’s in control, he’s mighty and he has a plan.
He Cares For You. Can you even comprehend that the majestic ruler of all things, who can speak the heavens into being is mindful of the tiniest hairs on your head?
Anxiety and fear over what can come will melt away in the light of God’s power working on your behalf. Like the trees, we can see that something beautiful comes when it’s time to let go.