Monday, January 3, 2011


On New Year's Day, we started watching Hoarders on Netflix and soon found we couldn't stop. We watched the whole first season. It was fascinating to see houses packed to the gills with stuff, stacks and piles strewn everywhere, filling all the places where people should be.

I could relate to the visuals a little bit. My parents are landlords, and more than once I was part of the cleanup when someone moved out of one of their properties. The amount of stuff that people crammed into these little homes was incredible. One of the very first properties they renovated was filled with empty Heineken bottles and sardine cans. There we're walls made of nothing but the refuse of these two products. In fact, that may explain my ongoing distaste for either of those two items... Or they're just gross.

The most intriguing thing about the show wasn't the piles of junk. It wasn't the success or failure of the cleanup efforts. It was the correlation between stuff and relationships. In every case, the hoarder had to choose between people and stuff.

"Get rid of the clutter or lose your kids."
"Clean this up or get out."
"I could never invite anyone here, it's my dirty little secret."
"Imagine being able to invite your friends over to play."
"Change or I won't bring my kids, your grandchildren, here anymore."

Unsurprisingly, people struggled mightily with the decision. In their mind the choice was obvious - every one knew relationship was what mattered. But, it was the stuff that had given them comfort, the stuff that was there for them, the stuff that gave them a moment of happiness.

"You won't be here tomorrow, but my stuff will be."

People fail. They go home. They betray and deceive and let you down and change their mind and have their own ideas and their own desires and their own lives. People are much harder to control than stuff.

God is too. He does his thing. The same yesterday, today and forever. You can't control God.

(Maybe that's why the internet generation is so eager to discredit Him. When you're used to reading, hearing and watching what you want whenever you want, som[one]thing you have no control over is unnerving.)

That's why we continue to choose other stuff over God. Stuff stays where we put it. It does what we tell it. It makes us feel good when we need it. We're in control, we call the shots, we're never disappointed.

Except that we are.

Every one of those people were miserable. Their stuff didn't bring them lasting joy. It brought them a moment of happiness followed by regret and guilt and bills. It brought them temporary comfort in the midst of their mess, but anxiety when they were in the real world.

Hoarders doesn't tell the long-term story of what happens after the clean-up. Do these people find peace in their relationships, or do they hoard and hoard until someone once again shovels the filth from their lives?

The Israelite kings followed a cyclical pattern of this. A king would follow God and things would go well, then his son would want something faster or want to prove his power, so he would reach out for help from somewhere other than God. Neglect of the Lord would follow, with more and more junk being piled up, until a king recognized the error of their ways and led them back to God.

" (Hezekiah) said to them, Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place." 2 Chronicles 29:5

It can be harder to see in our own lives, because most of us are better at hiding it. We don't all have houses with junk pouring out of them. We might be better at getting rid of the old stuff after we get new stuff or we mint be better organized with it. It might not be stuff at all. Our fix might be food or money or fantasy or escape in alcohol or drugs or control over others.

Whatever it is, whatever we're hoarding will let us down. When we look around and see a house or a heart that is filled with trash, we have to recognize that giving up our desire for control and truly trusting God is the only way to really clean things up.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States


  1. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
    - Matthew 6: 19-21
    One of the ironies of hoarding is that a person can't take anything that he or she hoarded with them when they die. But a relationship with God will last them forever.

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