My husband called me a hoarder.
I tried to brush it off, but it kept nagging at me.
Maybe because it rang true?
He later amended that statement (under duress of course) to, “Ok, maybe you are a semi-hoarder or a low-level hoarder. Or whatever you want to call it. Either way, I feel like I’m living with a hoarder.”
Not much better…
But it forced me to actually consider this accusation:
AM I A HOARDER???
Has anyone ever called you a hoarder? Or have you had to ask yourself, “Am I A Hoarder?”
Is there a small part of you that flinches when you hear that term because you know that you too struggle with this to some extent?
By definition, hoarding is the practice of collecting or accumulating something accompanied by an inability to discard the items without great distress.
I don’t think my husband meant that I suffered from the clinical hoarding disorder. This is a mental health condition that many suffer from and I want to be sensitive to that.
(If you think this may be an issue for you there is actually a hoarding scale. There are five stages of hoarding, that basically give guidelines for recognizing the problem and help one to answer the question of “Am I a hoarder?”)
I think he simply meant that I have a weird relationship with stuff.
And I don’t believe I’m alone in this.
Instead of having stuff for stuff’s sake, deep down we actually find comfort and security in our stuff instead of in our relationship with God.
- In fact, we feel fairly certain that there is comfort in closets full of designer children’s clothes so our kids can look like little walking magazine ads all of the time. (Meanwhile, reality is that they reach for their grubby t-shirts and Walmart running shorts on the daily…which is really better since they insist on wiping snot and greasy pizza hands on their clothes anyway. Just in case kids in general ever stop being so gross, it would be nice if those designer closets were still there waiting for them.)
- We also think we would find lots of comfort in a pretty house full of pretty things, preferably one that Joanna Gaines has worked her magic on. (This would certainly make us feel totally secure and fulfilled, right? Even if it only lasted five minutes before our kids and dogs destroyed it, we’d love to at least attempt to have that Pinterest-worthy home.)
- We just know there would be great comfort in our closets mirroring those of The Real Housewives. (Even though we certainly don’t operate on the same budgets nor do we have all of those fancy events to attend. Heck, we’d just about have to be scheduled to meet with an American president to be willing to negotiate our feet into an uncomfortable pair of heels these days. Ain’t nobody got time for that! But still…we would, in fact, feel better if those heels were waiting patiently in our closets in case that day ever comes.)
- We could even find security in fully-stocked refrigerators and pantries so we know we will have whatever specialty ingredients we might need on hand, at the ready, in case we get a wild hair and decide to actually cook. (At least something other than spaghetti, frozen chicken nuggets or breakfast for dinner. Which happens occasionally, right? We never know when we might act on a whim- it’s definitely better to be prepared.)
- We even find security in being prepared in the event that we just might need that thing one day in the future that we bought for such an incredible deal off the clearance rack five years ago. (It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just useful. Again, better to have it, just in case.)
We want to know we have all. the. stuff in case we ever need it.
Pretty is definitely preferred. But it’s actually way more about simply knowing we have what we need when we need it.
Somehow, we think we will feel more secure if it is all just there.
Logical? Not at all.
Painful to admit? Terribly.
Still true? Completely.
Everyone has a default stress response. Unfortunately, one of mine happens to be indulging in excess. Sometimes that means stress eating, but other times it looks like stress shopping.
Never heard of stress shopping, you say?
I bet you’ve done it too.
Let me give you an example:
You might have this problem if your husband has ever come home to a porch full of packages and angrily asked you what in the world you ordered this time. If you could only stare blankly back at him not just because you were desperately wanting to come up with a clever cover story about your friend who happened to be out of town suddenly needing you to receive ALL of her millions of packages while she is gone so could she please just have them shipped straight to your house for efficiency’s sake but because you honestly couldn’t remember, then you might be a stress shopper.
I have been a party to this conversation several times with different friends- don’t tell me this has never happened to you!
This begs the next question:
What is causing all of this stress?
My theory: We live in a constant state of at least low to mid-level stress simply because of the pace and noise of our busy, distracted lives. Throw in some unforeseen circumstances and our stress level immediately soars off the charts because we’re never actually starting from zero.
Life will never be perfect nor stress-free, but I know I’m making mine harder than it has to be. And one of the things that is adding more stress, unnecessary stress, is the management of all of the stuff I’ve become accustomed to hoarding. The way I have been living, managing all of this excess stuff, is a choice. And I think I am finally ready to choose something different.
To finally open my eyes to this blind spot in my life, this specific root of stress, for exactly what it is- a lack of trust in God.
What about you? Read this passage and see if it doesn’t strike a similar chord in you…
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:19-21, 25-34
Having to take such a hard look at my personal relationship with stuff in asking the “Am I a hoarder” question was certainly not fun; however, I believe that discovering the fact that the root of the problem was more spiritual than anything else was profoundly helpful. Have you ever asked yourself this same question- leave a comment below if you want to share how you’ve processed this same spiritual struggle.
*Click over to Part Two of this post (How to Stop Hoarding in 3 Easy Steps), as we continue wrestling with practical solutions to this ugly hoarding habit, plus three easy steps to decluttering and “unstuffing” our lives…