Deciduous trees shed their leaves as winter approaches to conserve water and energy. It’s a form of self-preservation for a number of reasons.
The leaves of deciduous trees are typically thin and do not do well in frigid temperatures. If the leaves stayed on the tree, the water in the leaf cell would freeze and cause it to rupture, rendering the leaf useless for photosynthesis. It would not be able to do the very thing it was designed to do, which is make food for the tree. This would also mean that the tree would have no suitable leaves to create food when summer eventually comes around.
The tree simple cannot afford to carry around dead weight.
Many leaves that were once vibrant and efficient have been eaten by bugs or have decayed to some degree and become unhealthy.
The tree needs to start over with fresh, healthy leaves.
Another reason why trees shed their leaves is because deciduous trees tend to have broad leaves. This can threaten the integrity of the tree as the leaves are tossed around by strong winds.
That which the tree once relied on for food will become dangerous to it if it doesn’t shed it.
As cooler temperatures approach, the tree releases hormones to begin ridding itself of its leaves in a process called abscission.
First, the tree begins to reabsorb nutrients from its leaves and then stores them in its roots for use during winter. Chlorophyll is one of the first molecules to be broken down and reabsorbed, which is why we see leaves losing their green colour. One by one, the leaves are shed.
As they fall, the tree prepares itself for a fresh start in the spring. The leaves that drop to the ground, decay and provide nourishment for a future season.
You and I have parts within us that must be shed in order for us to thrive. Maybe we formed habits and connections that once served as valuable resources. Maybe we formed a mindset that preserved our sanity in one season but is now a liability to our healing. Maybe you clung to certain beliefs because that was the only way you could survive the pain. And because these “leaves” once sustained you, you have a hard time letting them go.
But they were only meant for a time.
The longer you hold on to them, the more they will cost you. Instead of providing for you, they will drain you, stunt your growth and compromise your integrity.
It’s hard to discard something that has been a part of you for so long. You’ve grown attached to what you were once connected to. You may even feel guilty about it. ‘How can I just casually toss something I once relied on for sustenance?’ you may wonder. You have to trust the process. God gives you what you need for each season. What cannot survive in the new season must be axed.
Know that what you are shedding in this season will be nourishment for a future season. God will preserve the valuable parts of what you are relinquishing within you and use it to grow you. And the best part is that what you lost will be replaced.
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.