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

8 thoughts on “Saying Good-Bye-My “Ifs” and My “Onlys”

  1. The importance of staying rooted — I feel this every day as I ask God if the desires of my heart are aligned with the desires of His heart.

  2. Right?!! It is so hard to stay grounded in His truth. Joy in Him and contentment in His plans for us are at the center of surrender. Thanks for sharing Michele.

  3. There is such truth here, Velynn. It’s so easy to worry about what we have no control over. How much better to trust God and surrender it all to him. Thank you so much for your words. 🙂 “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.” “Help me, Jesus, teach me how to surrender. All.”

    • Thank you Gayl. God tells us “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”(MSG Phillipians
      4:6-7) I’m not all the way there yet but for my mental health, for the presence I want to be in my home, for the quality of life I want to live-I’m learning to lean in to this place more and more Sis.

  4. Friend-Oh my goodness, this is so me! I do this all the time too -” shoulda, coulda, woulda”. . . and yet we both know that God has this and He has you and his timing is perfect – your words, your story, you have a place. You belong. We belong. In his perfect timing. I believe in YOU. – love ya, Cornelia

  5. Cornelia!!! Thank you Sis. You said it in “HIS PERFECT TIMING.” He gets to decide.

  6. Hi Velynn,..I’m searching for a community of likeminded bloggers and came upon Mudroom and found you..what gorgeous writing and you know where where the best spot on earth is, a beautiful branch on the glorious vine!! Blessings! Hope to share again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.