I've been pondering on something the past couple of days. Asking myself, and God, questions. What is it about our "stuff"... material stuff... that makes us want vast amounts of it which we hoard? We live in a world of overworked and worn out yet we want to collect more and more stuff, which we are then responsible for. What is this? See, I have someone that I know... and she has a lot of 'stuff'. I look and wonder, "Why are you keeping all of this? There would be so much less clutter if you would get rid of these piles. Would you feel like you could breathe if you weren't being suffocated by so much stuff?" But of course, I haven't said this to her. And she not only hoards "stuff" that makes me feel like I'm suffocating in her home, she hoards food. I'm not joking. She's a single, senior citizen and has food, food, food. Pantries are stuffed to the point that things fall out on you if you open the cabinet. If you go to put something back in the refrigerator, you waste 5 minutes of you life standing there wondering where it came from in the first place cuz you sure as heck can't figure out where to put it. And she's in to "preparedness for emergencies" so she has a storage room stocked full of food.. like 25 lb. bags of dry goods and such. Where is the line crossed in being prepared and this being a sickness? I've been trying to analyze the situation. What I'm pondering are the following questions:
1.) Is this fear? Maybe from experience of a time of not having enough, one stockpiles out of fear of ever being in that place again?
2.) Where does faith and trust come in? Does one, in this place, not trust God's provision for them?
3.) Is the hoarding of things partially about desire? In the gathering and collecting (or hoarding) of things, is it out of desire for an identity... one ties their identity and who they are to what they own?
4.) Is there a line that is crossed between identity being wrapped up in our possessions and having our home reflect who we are? I mean, when you die and someone that didn't know you, walks into your home, you want them to feel that they know you in some small way, by what you have in your home. It's an expression of you. But is there a line that is crossed over into something entirely different when staking your identity while you are living, on those things in your home? Do they define you?
I ponder these things because (1) I am concerned for this person. I care for her and with her increasing health issues, she has an inability to care for her things. So it would make sense to me to purge and get rid of things you don't need, don't use, and simplify so you don't feel overwhelmed with things that need attention. I mean, it's a health hazard to open a kitchen cupboard! You know, the commercial of a kid cleaning their room where they just stuff everything and then when the door is opened, it all falls out? Uh, yeah... that's every cabinet in the kitchen, every closet... everything. The disorganization feels like my brain short circuits every time I look behind a door or in a drawer. I so badly want to help this person but also realize that not everyone thinks like me. That maybe, for some people, being able to own and see all their things is a reminder to them, of life... that these things represent their life. However, I am concerned for her safety and well being with all her "stuff".
Another reason I ponder this that I don't ever want to be one of these people on any level. When I was younger, I saved everything. And I mean, everything. I think I wanted to have reminders that my life meant something. That it was important. That I was important. The more I understand God's view of me and experience His grace, the less important those "things" are. It's easier and easier to let things go. For the most part, my home is furnished very minimally. I no longer have collections of things everywhere. Yes, sometimes I miss those things because they were tied to a memory. But, for the most part, I am relieved not to have tons of stuff collecting dust in my house always needing attention. I am in a perpetual state of mind of "clean out and simplify"... because it frees me.
Let me ask you this... if you had a friend you were concerned about, living in such a way, would you offer to help her? Would you say anything at all? I mean, what if she doesn't even see it as an issue... yet, deep down, I know this isn't true because of things she says. I see her exhausted and depressed. And I know from experience, how my house looks, is how I feel... and vice versa. My house is often messy and cluttered to me... and I HATE it.. because I feel messy and cluttered inside too. It's a reflection. I am constantly trying to clean out and organize so my energy can be spent being creative and loving my kids.. not weighed down with piles. It is a process. But if I was never moving forward in this process, I'd be so severely depressed, I couldn't function. But maybe that's just me.
Any words of wisdom? Thoughts? Anyone?