Last week, Nate shared his heart on his thoughts and feelings on fall. This week, I’ve chosen to share mine. As I sit here typing, I am in pain. For once I am not in emotional pain. No, I am in physical pain. I have been since yesterday after having undergone a dental procedure that is going to be a beneficial step in my orthodontics journey. For the longest time, I resisted the option of having the tooth removed. I was comfortable with it. It had always been there. Yet, the longer time went on, the more physical pain that I experienced as my teeth shifted and change was coming about. I was experiencing painful TMJ in my jaw as my teeth were trying to go somewhere in which there was no room to go. So I had to make a decision. Mental health is often like this, as in we are not aware that there are certain things in our lives, certain thoughts and feelings that have made themselves at home and we have gotten comfortable with them, refusing to allow them to leave. What often brings about the change and the decision to extract those necessary items from our lives is the increasing presence of pain, except in the case of mental health, that pain is most often emotional.
Pain is pain.
The season of fall for me brings the start of change, the promise of cooler weather, beautiful nights out enjoying the stars without the presence of mosquitoes, bonfires, the gorgeous decorations of leaves and pumpkins and scented candles, and the turning of the leaves into the most beautiful of God’s handiwork. The sound of the leaves on pavement is a lovely sound. You see I LOVE the cool weather. I love the overcast days. I love watching the leaves change colors and fall to the ground. I love seeing the sight of the leaves falling because then I know that winter is coming. And I love snow! Every year, that change comes. For most, Fall is a season. For me, it’s a feeling. A feeling of joy, happiness, and contentment. For others, like Nate, it brings a feeling of dread. It’s amazing how two people can look at the same thing and perceive it so differently.
This year, I’m not so sure how I’m going to feel. Fall and Winter have always been my favorite seasons. I’ve always loved the fall decorations, and with it comes the holidays, near and dear to my heart. This year, the center around my holiday traditions will not be around. After being so used to the traditions of spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with my Mom cooking and playing games, this year, I won’t have her with me. There is going to be an empty chair at the dinner table this year, one more empty chair than I would have wanted. You see, last Thanksgiving was the last time my Mom was able to eat anything and keep it down. Last Christmas was the last Christmas I spent with my Mom as I was taking care of her while she was at home under Hospice care.
What I do know is that this year, I have looked at those changing leaves differently. When I look at a tree whose leaves are changing, I see a life. I see a life that is changing. I see the life of a loved one, of an addict, of a codependent, or a child, of someone who is struggling with mental health. When I look at that tree, I see God and His promises. Just as the leaves will turn and eventually fall off, life on this Earth does end, yet for those whose life belongs to Him, life may end for them here on Earth, but it’s just beginning for them in Heaven. That tree is my life. Some years my leaves may be yellow, some years red, or even orange. However, my life will always change. I am the tree who will lose its leaves, yet by His promise I will gain new leaves back. Life changes. What am I choosing to accept in that change? Am I trusting God through the change? Change is possible. Not only is it possible, it’s inevitable.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You
forever in the next.
April Brantley, CR Mental Health Team X-Factor