Saying Good-Bye-My “Ifs” and My “Onlys”


Autumn is in full chorus.

Leaves shaded in hues of yellow-limes, tangerine-reds, black-purple-plum are bursting in symphony against the backdrop of November gray. And I can’t get enough of their beauty, diversity and surrender—I am jealous for each leaf’s resolve.

Looking at the “burning bush” in front of me, full abandon is its message. Outstretched branches that once held tiny buds of hope, now sever the support it once gave—letting each tender leaf fall.

This seems kinda cruel to me. And a waste. How the wind and rain wreck through these vulnerable paper-thin-chandeliers is unsettling. 

Instead of “release” I want “recovery.” How many days did it still have to hold all it had co-produced with the Creator. How many more moments to share with each of us its display of hard work and sacrificial offering before it stands bare?

But what if it was OK with letting go?

What if it was ready for the season to change?  

“What if I’m not?”

What if I am the leaf, that doesn’t want to let go.

What if I am the branch, that is afraid of the wind that threatens to strip me.

What if I’m the tree, that needs to take inventory of every ring before moving forward.

You see, I hold tightly to fleeting moments, missed opportunities, and failed relationships with thick stems of “ifs” and “onlys.”

If only I had majored in English, I would be an established author.

If I don’t get my Master’s by 45, I’ll never make enough money. 

Maybe if I would’ve tried harder, we would still be best friends.

If we would have bought that house in Portland, we wouldn’t be renting now.

Only the privileged get to pursue their dreams, who am I kidding.

As another leaf surrenders—its fall is soft and delicate.

Could I do that? 

What would happen if I let go of all that I’m holding on so tightly?

The future and safety of my children . . .

The book deal that may or may never happen . . .

The hatred and violence toward my people . . .

The flashing idols and subtle seduction of this world’s race for more . . .


Lifting my hands in worship on Sunday morning the image of my tree reappears.

My eyes swell with tears, as my soul finally catches what I couldn’t see before.

I begin to allow myself to hope in the what ifs instead of fearing them.

What if it’s true? That the purpose of this life is to prepare me for the next one—not to go chasing down every lost leaf.

That I am not in control of the seasons in and outside of my life. God is.

That it’s OK to let go of the things I can’t manage or understand. I don’t have to have it all figured out or hold the responsibility for those who chose not to do their part.

That some of “my” dreams aren’t His dreams. What if He truly knows what’s best for me—even if I disagree.

Like the tree, the branch, the leaf—my job is to stay rooted to the One who created me.

Letting the wind carry away . . .

Allowing the rain to clean deep . . .

Whatever He chooses . . .

Help me, Jesus, teach me how to surrender. All.

Velynn Brown
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