I have filled three huge lawn bags with shredded paper today. Hidden among the shreds are the details of my life.
I could tell you how much my electric bill was in 1980 if I had spared those receipts from the shredder. I could have assured you that my cat was vaccinated for rabies back in 1983. Or maybe you would be more interested in a document stating my car had passed the emission test in 1990.
As I fed these things into the ravenous shredder (which overheated three times), I wondered why I had avoided this task for so long.
I have asked our financial advisor, on several occasions, if there was any reason to keep old records. Each time I was gently told, “no” but it wasn’t until today that I took action.
Why is it hard to let go of that which is clearly useless? Is it a matter of trust? Am I trying to keep a paper trail so that I can go back to days that were more fun? Does shredding the evidence make it undeniable that I have more history than future?
I did find a few treasures. I found my original birth certificate, a copy of my ordination certificate, a copy of a document signed by Grover Cleveland in 1886 granting a homestead easement for accessing the timber on our farm and a hand written letter to each of my parents that I never sent.
I am glad that I glanced at the papers and grasped ownership of what I was releasing. I feel as though I have traveled back down a road that is both crowded with trivia and marked with significance.
All of it is past. None of it can be relived. But I can filter the memories. I can choose forgiveness, gratitude and grace. I can release the pain and embrace the joy.
I can follow the footsteps of Jesus where I am reminded that my sin has been shredded and my faith has been framed.