Most of us have probably either seen an episode, or at least have heard something about the A&E show “Hoarders.” In cause you know nothing about the show, each episode follows two compulsive hoarders as they try to “clean up” their homes. Sometimes these people have lost their children, or they are an inspection away from it. Some people are forced out of their homes, and many lose their spouses over their disease. During the episode, each individual works with a professional who attempts to organize, and help the hoarder learn new behaviors. Large trucks and dumpsters are brought in, along with several workers to help the individuals sort and clean their homes. The show ends with significant progress or failure of the person to change.
I’ve watched horrific scenes of clutter and trash being shoveled out and sorted by men in rubber suits and masks, and I have always wondered how the home owners could let their problem get so out of control. This question is almost always answered by the person saying they just can’t let go. They can’t let go of shopping habits, stray animals, trash, or home improvement items. Whatever it is, they can’t let go, and eventually they are trapped in a very destructive behavior.
Every time I see an episode of this show, I am encouraged to do some type of house cleaning. I sort through clothes to give away one more time, or I clean out my “scrap booking” items that will probably never actually go into a scrapbook. I am always terrified of becoming a hoarder. This morning, as I was washing dishes, I thought about the show a little differently. I wondered if I’m a secret hoarder. I thought about when we moved and how much “junk” we were able to get rid of. I decided I don’t have a problem with hoarding physical things, but I began to wonder if I hoard anything else.
I thought back to the days in college when I was going through a really tough time. I felt trapped in sin that I couldn’t escape. Just like all of the hoarders on the show, I was trapped in a destructive behavior that was slowly killing me. No, I wasn’t physically dying, but I certainly was spiritually. Then one day, I realized I couldn’t clean up my life on my own. I knew I needed help, so I turned back to God. This was not easy for me. I’m a very prideful and stubborn person. Having to accept the fact that I failed and couldn’t fix the problem myself hurt really bad.
Once I humbled myself to ask God for help, the first thing I needed to do was purge my life of everything I had trouble letting go of. God knew I would need help, so He provided a clean up crew, my brothers and sisters in Christ. This was very humiliating because all of my garbage, the skeletons in my closet, the very things I tried to keep hidden from everyone, including myself, was just laid out and being slowly sorted through and thrown out. When I say slowly, I mean R-E-A-L-L-Y S-L-O-W. I remember for weeks on end, night after night, of not going back to my dorm room until it was so late, there really wasn’t anything to get me into trouble. Instead, I would hang out at the UC with several people singing, talking, reading the Bible, and just being around each other. I avoided all the things that triggered my destructive behavior, and eventually these things weren’t a temptation for me anymore.
I truly believe we all need a cleaning crew to help us sort through the stuff and throw it out, but without God being there to show us how to change the behavior, we are just going to get trapped again. I also think it takes us being completely broken and our souls laid bare before God can teach us to let go.
Psalm 34:18 (ESV)