Fall has finally come to Oklahoma this year. “And all the church said, ‘Amen!'”

As I’ve been looking around, I’ve noticed all the things that the leaves had been hiding. From my back porch, I can see the beautiful white tree bark on our Sycamore showing through. While driving, I’ve noticed barns, pastures, and a house that I didn’t know existed because the leaves had hidden them all.

As I enjoy the Fall weather, I’m reminded that it is a time of year many look forward to. The crunch of leaves under our feet, cooler temperatures, comfort food. But all these come at a price.

In order for us to enjoy our favorite Fall activities and rituals, the earth has to fall, lose its grandeur, and rest. Normally, when we fall in our lives, we do everything we can to prevent others from seeing it. We vainly try to super glue all our leaves back in place. We put on a smile when we really just want to fall apart. We seclude ourselves from those who could help because we don’t want anyone to see the real “me.”

I did this camouflage act in college. At the time my family was falling apart. My parents were constantly fighting and eventually separated while I was in college. On top of that, I was finally free to process the abuse I had gone through growing up and many times would find a safe place to hide and just cry. But I doubt anyone but my few closest friends had a clue. I did see a campus counselor, and though she helped, none of the adults I was close to at school knew what was going on at home. Ironically, during the hardest semester I had, I made straight A’s. It was either drown myself in busyness or get drunk. I reasoned since getting drunk could get me kicked out of my private Christian school, drowning in busyness was the better alternative.

The camouflage act didn’t work. Even through the worst of my teen years, I have never felt so much internal pain. Never felt so alone. There were times I would look out the window of my dorm room and seriously consider jumping. It was only God’s almost tangible arm around me that kept me from it. Falling in that way, in relative secret with no one to help was not healthy and almost undid me in the end.

On the other hand, being real with my friends after college, when my parents did eventually divorce. And then being real again and inviting mentors and friends, and even at times you readers, in on our journey the last five years as we’ve moved all over the country has been extremely healthy. Has it always been pretty? Absolutely not. I have called my mentors, while at my wits end; talked it out with friends over coffee; prayed, while screaming at God; even shared some of my frustration and “why” questions here, but I never got to that black place I did while in college.

The difference I think was transparency. During my parent’s divorce and then during this crazy trans-ocean-state journey the last few years, I have tried to stop hot gluing all my leaves back on and pretending it’s not Fall.

Fall can appear to be dry and brown, but just as when the trees lose their leaves and we can see what they’ve been hiding, allowing others to see the real us and what we’ve been hiding isn’t bad either. Sometimes it’s cleansing and frees us up to be real and be ready to actively participate in life again when Spring comes around.