Fall is here!
Before you know it, all those colored leaves will be on the ground turning brown and nurturing new growth. You’ll look up and see just one or two leaves hanging on for dear life to an otherwise empty branch.
As I watch the leaves changing colors and temperatures dropping (yay for digging out boots and scarves!), I have noticed that we can learn a lot from nature this time of year.
One important lesson that comes to mind is that change is inevitable.
It’s funny how we look forward to the seasons changing, but we don't always embrace change in our own lives.
In fact most often we resist it and hold on for dear life like those last clinging leaves.
We want to avoid the unknown and the mystery that accompanies change.
But oh how exciting it is when we finally let go, let the wind rise beneath our chest and exhale as we flow into something new, embracing the mystery.
I struggle with welcoming change just like you, but I am grateful that God allows us to experience the different seasons of life literally. So as autumn settles in, notice the changes in the air around you, and consider setting aside some time for what I call a “Life Check In.”
Grab yourself something pumpkin flavored, some paper and a pen. Let nature be your guide as you take a little extra time for yourself and walk through one or more of the following exercises.
#1: Check in with your schedule
The main feature of autumn is the shedding of leaves from deciduous trees. Deciduous means the dropping of a part that is no longer needed. The leaves are falling away because their purpose for this season of a tree’s life has been completed. Are there areas of your life that are no longer needed? Perhaps there is something that has served a purpose in your life at one time but now is draining unnecessary energy and should be let go.
Write out a list of things in your life that take up your time and energy. Your list could include relationships (romantic, friendships, and even family), dreams and/or visions, tasks that go on your to-do lists, hobbies or anything that keeps you busy. List anything you can think of.
Now look at that list and put a little “X” by the things that leave you drained rather than motivated, by the tasks or dreams that no longer excite you. Put an “X” by the things that overwhelm you or take away from the time you have to do what really matters to you. Now put a checkmark by anything that you love or that gives you energy. If you’re excited to get out of bed for it, put a checkmark by it.
Make two columns and label column one "Shedding" and column two "Keeping." Go through each entry on your list and take inventory of the fruit it bears in your life (good and bad). Start dividing your list items into the two columns. Decide what you will allow to fall by the wayside and what you will keep and maybe make changes to. Of course there will be things that drain you that you might not be able to eliminate right now, but are there changes you could make towards the ultimate purpose of keeping only those things in your life that are bearing fruit and producing more of what you want? Can you put that exhausting task in the “shedding column” and work towards removing it? Can you give more time to the things in the “keeping column?”
#2: Check in with your identity
We get to sit back and watch the seasons change with no effort on our part (besides raking up all those pesky leaves!, but in our own personal lives, change occurs with intention.
We have to make choices every day to create positive change in our lives, daily dying to our flesh and emotions.
Take a little personal inventory about who you are today. Are you the same person you were 5 years ago? 3 years ago? or even 1 year ago? Do you still struggle with the same sins? The same problems? Are you striving to achieve the same goals year after year, with little to no progress? Or can you write down the ways you have changed and the positive growth you have seen in your life?
We were designed to grow and change, so if you are not seeing much growth in your life, it's time to make a change. Do something different.
Start a fast to pray intensely for guidance and clarity about what is hindering you from making progress. You could fast from food or choose something else (TV or internet) and set aside that time to pray.
Find a mentor or an accountability partner. Tell them your story and your heart for the changes you would like to see in your life. Be open to the truth and honest feedback. Remember the truth will set you free and who doesn't want to be free!
You could also hire a life coach! Someone who can listen and provide some clear strategy for the future, as well as hold you accountable for moving forward.
The purpose of this check in to make sure you are growing more into the person you were designed to be in Christ, who is your true identity. Your barometer to measure your identity is the word of God, so dive deep into Scripture as you seek change.
#3: Check in with your heart
Another characteristic of fall is the slight change in climate that leads up to winter, the coldest season of the year. The cold of winter is caused by the axis of the earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the sun.
But (can you see where I’m going?) we don’t want our hearts to grow cold or move further away from “the Son.” So the purpose of this exercise is to examine your heart.
Is your heart beginning to grow cold? Are you nursing a grudge or a bitter spirit even in some small way that is allowing you to spin away from God or from the community of God?
Or maybe your heart has grown very cold. Have you turned away from God and grown bitter towards Him or any other person? Have you lost your passion for life and given up on things that were once important to you? Perhaps you're tired of watching big and exciting things happen for everyone else, and find yourself unhappy with the course your own life has taken.
Proverbs 4:23 says:
Guard your heart ABOVE ALL ELSE, for it determines the course of your life.
Sister, your heart determines the course of your life. Decide today that you will guard your heart.
Take inventory of your heart. Write down what is there that should not be there. What have you let in that you should have “guarded” or kept out. Maybe you feel like you cannot let go of something because it has been in there for so long. I encourage you to empty your heart of those things. Ask the Lord to help you where you feel stuck or stone cold. He longs to melt our ice cold hearts with His great love for us.
The goal here is to have a heart full of beauty in order to receive the beautiful things that are in store for you. Write down a few ways that you can purpose to keep your heart close to the Son even as the earth turns away from the sun.
I really hope this checkup exercise proves to be a valuable tool that you can use to evaluate your life. Maybe using these check-in’s will encourage you as you see how much growth you experience by this time next year.
Happy Fall my Friends!! As you watch for change in the air and change in your life, be sure to enjoy all the delights of this season! Spicy drinks, pumpkin treats and my favorite: oh-so-trendy coats, boots and scarves!
Tell me: What is your favorite part of Fall?
Did any of these check-ins shed some light on an issue in your life? Something you need help dealing with?
Feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below. I'll be over here with my cranberry bliss bar (it's almost time) and hot tea ready to hear from you.