October 11, 2010
Are You a Hoarder?
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ… Philippians 3:7-11
Have you ever visited the house of a hoarder?
Maybe not. But if you've ever flipped by the TV shows "Hoarders" or "Hoarders: Buried Alive," you probably feel a sense of revulsion at the term. Hoarders are those people who, to put it mildly, get carried away with keepsakes and other "stuff." Spoiled food, broken tools, old shopping bags, baby clothes for grown children, you name it. These people can't psychologically let go of almost anything, so the stuff piles up around them and anyone unfortunate enough to live with them. Soon, a hoarder is literally wading through piles of accumulated junk, so anything of real value gets lost.
I've watched a couple episodes, but I think I'm swearing off the depressing show. The junk horrifies me, sure. The truly frightening aspect of hoarding, however, is psychological. Even though their houses become more unsafe by the day, hoarders never fail to justify the crammed quarters.
Many of them cling to an unrealistic future - perhaps their stuff is worth thousands of dollars, or they'll use the tools and materials to do some home improvement, or maybe even give those still-in-bags purchases away as gifts. They rarely execute these plans. Instead, their loved ones run from the hoarder's house, chased away claustrophobia and the smell even as they tell the hoarder they want to help. Watching an old woman pick her stuff over her daughter "because my stuff if always here, and you're not," really messes with your heartstrings.
Once in a great while, however, a hoarder's blindness falls away. He recognizes that - surprise - he needs serious help. That's when the professional organizers, cleanup crews, and even psychologists all descend on the house at the direction of this wannabe-reformed hoarder.
Tears, sweat, and tortuous hours of decision-making follow, as the hoarder tries to reverse a thought process that poisoned the mind for years. Getting rid of their precious stuff is literally torture. But for the few who succeed at clearing out the rat's nest - it's all smiles. Those who realize they're drowning in temporal treasures find that coming up for air is worth it. They walk through their like-new houses saying, "Wow! This is amazing! The kids will love this!" Surrendering their stuff opens up a new world for them - a world of freedom.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
In Philippians, Paul says he counts "counts as rubbish" all earthly things. That's as dramatic a change as a hoarder releasing a lifetime of stuff. In a sense, we all "hoard" -- not only possessions, but compliments, skills, accomplishments, even others' love (have you ever felt jealous when a close friend begins spending time with someone else at your expense?). We have to surrender all these things to experience true freedom. Let's fill up on the spirit instead of stuff, shall we?