Monday, March 12, 2012

The Habit of Hoarding

So during my sick days a week or so back, I watched my first episode of the A&E show called Hoarders.

Hoarders is this completely terrifying show about people who have a mental illness that causes them to hoard all sorts of things in their homes and yards until the spaces become unlivable and almost condemned.

Yes, this is for real. And I'm talking about all sorts things from rotted food, to animal feces, colonies of bugs, and just mounds and mounds of laundry, papers, and junk.

It's so horrific to me that I can't even bring myself to post photos of some of the hoarding episodes here on the blog. Ha! (And you know how hard it is for me to blog without pics!) Seriously though, I think I've made it through only two episodes and each time it's over I'm totally stressed and cleaning my own house like a maniac.

Personally, I've always been more a purger than a hoarder. I've always been organized, even as a child, and sometimes I become quite OCD about it and keeping things just so. Seeing my closet in perfect order - shoes lined up, hangers all the same color, facing the same way, belts and bags in their proper place brings me joy. Yes. JOY. Ha! Container Store lovers.... can I get an amen? Ha! I love love LOVE when my house is spotless and work towards this end constantly. It brings me peace of mind and just some sense of structure in times when work or my daily schedule is crazy.

Watching this tv show though has seriously had an impact on me. After both episodes I watched, I caught myself in a complete trance wondering how these people did it, how they tolerated all the filth and stench and feces and bugs and thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with it? What goes through their mind? How on earth could they possibly rationalize this? How could they ignore these issues and just continue to do something that caused harm and eventually destroyed everything and everyone around them?

And then, this internal thought-process analyzing the hoarders and all their ghastly behavior took an unexpected turn and caused me almost to lose my breath as I realized I was in fact, just like them.

I was a hoarder.  Not of rotten food and junk, but of things even more rank and destructive- negative thoughts and feelings I have buried in the corners of my heart, left unattended where they've piled up and rotted. This realization stunned me and horrified me. Why is it I found their physical hoarding so repulsive, but didn't think twice about that putrid thought I had about so-and-so or the stench left behind from rampant anger or the sticky residue of a broken relationship? As hard as it was to swallow, this thought was sobering and such a healthy reminder.

I'm not sure if I'll ever watch another episode of Hoarders, but this incredibly valuable lesson will stay with me a long time. We must not forget to keep our hearts and minds tidy while remembering to keep our homes dusted and cleaned. In fact, we should put more effort towards it and guard our hearts because they affect everything we do. (Proverbs 4:23)

So are you a hoarder? I challenge all my friends, family, and readers to take an inventory of your heart and start spring cleaning! It's never too late or too early to throw out the "junk" and destructive behaviors and allow Jesus to do something beautiful through you.

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