Recently I decided to clean my office. One of the things that required the most attention was my filing cabinets.
In the early days of my ministry, everything was put into a file and stored for later use. If I had handwritten sermons, they went into a file. If I read a good article in a magazine, I would copy it and put it in another file. If another Church had a brochure that was well done, still another file for that. The result was two filing cabinets crammed full of papers.
Over time, I found more and better material on the internet. I also discovered my old sermons were not good enough to preach again as I learned and understood more of the Bible. Most of those cabinets’ material was no longer useful for my ministry.
Still, the pages were hard to throw away. Some represented hours of work. Others were the result of financial investments. A few represented achievements in my ministry career. So I held onto them year after year. That is until August this year when I decided to clean house.
Each week I have gone through another drawer and filled boxes with old paperwork that went into the trash. As of today, I have emptied one filing cabinet and a few random boxes of the pages they contained.
With each stop at the dumpster outside of our Church building, I feel a burden lifted as I throw away all these old papers. One less pile of stuff to maintain. One less pile to move. All the good and bad pages of the past 29 years of ministry are being purged from my life.
This process has me thinking about my mental filing cabinets. There are thousands of pages stored there too. They are not that easy to remove. A quick stop at the dumpster does not eliminate the mental pages given to me over a lifetime. Still, most of us need to purge the mental files we have accumulated over a lifetime.
Occasionally we need to say, “I am never going back there again.” When that old memory pops up, we will dismiss it rather than dwell on it. When we are reminded of those past failures, we will not spend a minute of mental energy replaying them.
I am so happy that I started this project. It has been purifying to my soul and liberating to my mind. Whenever we clean the house physically or mentally, we are given a chance to start over with a clean slate.