Have you ever noticed that oak trees are always the last to lose their leaves? It’s true. Come mid-November, when all the other trees in the neighborhood stand naked and exposed, their bare branches stripped of every last leaf, the oak trees remain fully dressed in russet, their leaves scraping together in the wind like sandpaper. The oaks, it seems, have trouble letting go.
Turns out, I’m a lot like the oak tree that clings so fiercely to its leaves. In fact, I suspect a lot of us are.
We, too, clutch our camouflage — the person we present to the world, to our own selves, and even to God.
We, too, are unwilling to shed our false selves, to let go, to live vulnerably and authentically.
We are afraid of what might happen if we drop our protective cover, afraid of how we might be seen or perceived, or how we might see or perceive our own selves.
We are leery of what we might discover under all those layers.
The thing is, though, even the stubborn oaks have to let go of their leaves eventually. New growth can’t happen until the old, desiccated parts fall away. Spring only comes after winter. There is a rhythm here – relinquishing, stilling, rebirth.
The truth is, God does not wish for us to stand stubborn like the autumn oak tree, cloaked in a façade of protection, our truest, most authentic selves obscured beneath a tangled bramble of false security. Rather, he desires us to live open and free, our true essence revealed and flourishing, our true self front and center, secure and thriving.
God yearns for us to live wholeheartedly and truthfully as the unique, beautiful, beloved individuals he created us to be. Most of all, God’s deepest desire is for us to know him, to root our whole selves in him like a tree rooted by a stream, and to know his deep, abiding love for us.
God yearns for us to live in the spacious, light-filled freedom of Christ and to know ourselves in him, through him, and with him.
As we slowly begin to let go of our false selves, branch by branch, leaf by leaf, and layer by layer, as we finally begin to relinquish, open up, and allow God to prune us from the inside out, we will grow in ways we never imagined: in our relationships with loved ones; in connection with and love for our neighbors; in our vocation; in our heart, mind, and soul; and in intimacy with God himself.
Our true, essential self, the one beautifully and uniquely created by God, is there, deep inside, hidden beneath layer upon layer of leaves clinging fast. Within each of us is a spacious place, waiting to be revealed.
Letting go is the way in.
This post is an edited sneak peek from the first chapter of my upcoming book, True You: Letting Go of Your False Self to Uncover the Person God Created, releasing January 1, 2019. I am thrilled to be able to offer you some lovely gifts for pre-ordering the book anytime between now and December 31:
The True You Companion Journal
Beautifully designed True You Scripture Memorization Cards
The Learning to Listen to Your Soul Guided Audio Meditation
You can find out more and fill out the quick pre-order form to get your free gifts over on the True You book page.
While you’re there, download the free True You sample chapter and get a head start on your New Year reading!