I woke up to the sound of a chainsaw.

It’s normal, living on a farm in New Zealand. Maybe not to hear one on Saturday at 7am, but you come to expect the unexpected. Living in Hobbiton—my childhood dream—has its trials.

I dragged myself out of bed and glanced down the hill.

No no no no no, I shuddered.

Trucks and hard hats surrounded the neighbour’s 100-year-old pine. That tree was my landmark. Think Bilbo’s Party Tree, but larger.

Of course, taking down a tree that size is not a two-minute endeavor. They chipped away decades of bark and wood, cut by cut. I watched from my bedroom window, camera ready—and after an hour—it fell.

But instead of capturing it, I fumbled over my phone—so all I have is a memory: the yells, the crash… and the mess.

Growing up, I thought ending life seasons would be clear-cut—definitely no mess. You know, serve five years in a global missionary training movement, say your farewells—and start your next season with no strings attached.

But lately, it hasn’t been that. What I planned to do, I changed last-minute. What job I expected to start, didn’t happen quickly. And in the waiting, I was so frustrated at how much emotional s*** I still needed to work through—that “moving on” felt like a hopeless, impossible task.

But on that Saturday morning, I looked down at the massive, shattered trunk and its branches strewn across the hillside.

That’s when I heard the familiar whisper.

You do realise it’s going to take them a lot of time to sort through all that, right?

Well, duh. I’ve heard stories about how long it took to clear the other pine of similar size (think months, not days). I knew it would take time.

Why can’t you give yourself the same grace?

In that moment, it hit me. In my rush to “move on” from one life season to the next, I’d put a timer on my transition and my grief. But you and I both know—when you chop down a freaking big tree, the result is a freaking big mess. And when you finish something like a job, a city, or even a relationship—you’re also left with a big mess.

Mess that takes time to work through.

In the wise words of Ricky Baker in Hunt for the Wilderpeople,

“I processed that for ages.”

Surely we can give ourselves the same grace.

Photo credit: Keana Dawson