I’m not a big TV-watcher; my normal repertoire consists of political news and a couple prime-time shows my husband and I watch together. One show I do enjoy is TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” Anyone seen it? Each episode follows an individual who over-collects stuff and ends up with an insanely full, cluttered house. My husband, who finds the show depressing (and justifiably so), teases me for liking it. Which made me wonder: “Why do I like this show?”
Here’s what I came up with: I like “Hoarders” because it takes a common human problem and illustrates it in a visible, material way. What problem? Accumulating baggage, piling it up, ignoring it, and carrying on with life as if it weren’t there. As if we can simultaneously hold onto all our junk and continue living a productive, focused, healthy life.
Isn’t this what we do, so often? We feel over-taxed by the demands on our life but we press on through. We feel resentful toward our husband, but we lay the feelings aside. Our thoughts are consumed with envy of a friend but we ignore them. We tolerate a draining relationship with a family member, one we know is unhealthy, thinking, “What can I do about it anyway? Best to leave well enough alone.” God seems far from us and disconnected from our life but we simply think, “it’s just a dry spell; it’s normal.” Just tossing things on the pile, one after the other. Holding onto the feelings, never looking them in the eye to assess if they’re good or true or deserve a rightful space in our soul. Piles of baggage accumulating in our hearts and minds, and we just look away and keep keeping on as if it weren’t there – as if it weren’t impacting us.
Why do we do that? Because living intentionally and well is hard work – draining, sometimes back-breaking. Figuring out what we’re dealing with, why we’re taking it on, what’s driving us. Sorting out the idols that so often exist behind the baggage we accumulate. Finding our way through the junk to the sin behind it – and then repenting of it. We don’t want to take it on. It’s so much easier to brush it aside and go on with our lives – close the door on the baggage when it gets in the way.
I like “Hoarding” because the show portrays so clearly the absurdity of this type of behavior – behavior we all engage it – because the hoarding in these people’s lives doesn’t just take place on the inside (where we keep ours, invisible but insidious) but also on the outside. Their houses literally turn into piles of waste and mold where ours is internal. Eventually they hit the same wall anyone who collects junk without dealing with it hits… Their space becomes so cluttered with baggage and waste that they can’t function.
The house that Jesus speaks of is a structure that’s well and carefully built – built on the solid foundation of Christ. It’s a house that can tolerate a lot of stress and serves its inhabitants well. The Bible speaks, too, of God as the architect and builder of heaven… and I love that image of God. The maker of the universe, setting the stars in the sky and painting the landscape – also nailing down the details, the floorplans of heaven. Caring about the houses we live in, and the state they’re in.
So what does all this have to do with us – mothers of preschoolers? Simply this: we’re at the center of our households – literally and figuratively. We’re the hub around which our family members of spin – our husbands, our children, our extended families, our households. And the changes keep coming; life gets fuller and more complicated. The enemy keeps us distracted and suddenly a host of unhealthy thoughts and feelings have planted themselves in the center of our hearts – affecting not just us but everyone around us. We have to go on the offense to stay in the light and clear out the sins, lies, and idols that would pile up if we let it. I’m re-reading a favorite book that helps me sort through my own “junk,” Boundaries in Marriage, because this book and the others in the Boundaries series help me sort through the junk before it piles up.
Because the question is always – to all of us – “What are we going to do with our junk?” Will we look it in the eye with the help of our strong and all-knowing God, trusting in Him to walk us through the sorting and tossing – believing that He’ll bring something beautiful out the other side? Or will ignore it, toss it aside, let it pile up? Will we even become so used to the junk and its false messages that we befriend it, seek comfort from it, and allow us to distort and crush us under its weight? Will we let it, in the end, bring confusion and destruction and death (in one form or another) to our soul and the souls of our loved ones?
I say: It’s spring cleaning season, girls. Let’s have at it.