It's that time of year when people do their spring cleaning. Many of us are spending some time doing a deeper cleaning than usual of our homes, garages, yards, offices, and cars. If you are like me, it's not something you look forward to doing, but the work is completed there is always the appreciation of a fresh beginning.
My wife and I decided to do a deep cleaning of our bedroom this past week. Once we started, we decided to do something we hadn't done in fifteen years. We made the decision to move every piece of furniture, including the rug, out into the hallway so that we could scrub down and repaint the entire room from top to bottom. We also did this to be free to consider new ways of arranging the furniture, while at the same time considering things we no longer want to keep. I am happy to report that our bedroom is reassembled and that we are enjoying not just a cleaner room, but a totally rearranged room, and one with fewer items than were in the room previously. It feels good.
Last year, our Living Compass team took two days to do some long range strategic planning. As a still relatively young, but quickly growing, organization we do this fairly often to help us be clear about our goals for our organization, as well as who will be responsible for each step necessary to reach our goals. In this particular strategic planning session, Robbin Whittington, our Director of Publications and Resource Development, shared the perfect metaphor for what we were doing. She said that healthy organizations, from time to time, need to be willing to "move all the furniture out of the room" in order to get a totally free and fresh perspective. This helps them determine what needs to change and what needs to stay the same. I, of course, thought of that metaphor as we were doing our deep cleaning this past week.
One sign of stagnation or decline in any organization (be it a business, a congregation, or a family) is the phrase, "We've always done it this way," or it's equivalent, "But we've never done it that way before!" I know this for a fact, because when my wife suggested completely rearranging our bedroom, the first words out of my mouth, without even thinking, were, "But we've always had it arranged this way!" It wasn't until all the furniture was out of the room that I could actually see the new and creative possibilities my wife was describing to me.
So what furniture might benefit from being moved or perhaps rearranged in your life, either literally, or metaphorically? Might a new idea at work, a new way of rearranging a room in your home, or going back to school be a good way to make a fresh beginning? How about a new exercise routine or a new way of eating? Or a new way of thinking about a family member or friend?
May I suggest, based on my own recent experience, that the first step in making a change is to simply move all the furniture out of the room. The beauty of this first step is that at this point you are not committing to changing or getting rid of anything. You are simply committing to reconsider the way you are currently arranging things and opening yourself up to the possibility of something new. Like spring cleaning, the process may be something you don't especially look forward to, but when you are done and new possibilities have been entertained and then acted upon, I'm pretty sure there will be the satisfaction of a fresh beginning.