Recently I watched a TV show about hoarding. It was horrible. I couldn’t begin to imagine how people could live that way. Homes were stacked to the ceiling with things people had purchased and not even opened the box. Trash and containers lined the walls. There wasn’t even room to move around or function in their homes. Items were rotting and the house smelled bad. Rats and bugs were running around all over the house. My heart was broken as they talked about the mental issues that lead up to this kind of condition. I wondered how hurtful this illness was to the hoarder’s family. I thought about how much it must have impacted their social life. I can only imagine how unhappy they must be to seek comfort in compulsively adding to their things and keeping stuff the rest of us throw away.
Then all of the sudden my heart was stricken by the Holy Spirit. It almost took my breath away. We hoard every day! We try to make ourselves feel better by spending money and having things that show status. We meet our need for approval by adding activities to our schedule that make us feel wanted. We eat way more food than we need because we are feeling stressed. We make financial and work related decision to hoard a feeling of security.
I think God is looking down at us with the same horror I felt while looking at the hoarder’s home on the TV show. He sees lives overflowing with meaningless items that clutter our ability to function and grow closer to Him. I think He is heartbroken watching us try to fill voids with stuff, activities and food that only HE can fill. He longs for us to loosen our grip on the need for security and step out in faith and trust Him.
More is truly less when we are trying to fill our lives with temporary things and don’t leave any room for God. Here are a few areas where more is really less:
- More security produces less faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So many times we choose the path of security over stepping out on faith. God wants us to depend on him to meet our daily needs. I have found that playing it safe and faith rarely hang out. Most of the time, God wants us to step out in a big way so that he can get glory from our lives. He wants to do things in our lives that can’t be credited to anyone else but Him!
- More activities produce less margin. Just like the hoarder’s house on TV, when we fill our lives with so many activities that we can’t really move around and function, we are limiting what we can accomplish. Even when the activities we plan are good things they can crowd out the best Our society tells us that our kids need to be in all the extra activities after school and that we need to be on every committee. Our church expectations can even add to this chronic over-scheduling. Imagine if I attend all the Bible studies but don’t have time for personal devotions? What if I teach several classes but don’t have time to invest in my own kids? Do my kids have margin so that God can work in their lives?
- More food produces less space in my pants! LOL! I hear the tiny voice that shouts to me from my pantry as soon as I feel stressed. If things are not going my way, I head to the junk food. I reward myself for health goals by going out for ice cream! LOL! I am right there with you friend. In this area we KNOW that more is less. We are trying to fill an emotional or carnal need with over indulging in food. I appreciate food. It is wonderful in its right place, but when we try to heal hurts and meet needs that only God can address with food, “more” robs us of a quality of life. We can’t be all that God wants us to be when we are not treating our bodies right.
- More spending creates less peace. There were no self-storage units until the later part of the 1960’s. Today we have 2.63 BILLION square feet of storage space available just in the United States! What happened between the 1960’s and now? I know for our family, there has been a gradual shift. We watch TV and look at the ads and feel compelled to get the latest and greatest. I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was married with one baby and now I feel like I need the newest version as soon as it comes out. With that accumulation, we try to ease the guilt by keeping and storing our old items. I admit that shopping can give us a quick “happy high” but it is so fleeting and then we are left with guilt. Strife over finances is one of the top reasons marriages end. We overspend and are robbed of the peace God wants to provide by meeting our needs.
When we were given the news that Cliff, my first husband, was terminally ill, things became crystal clear. Identifying what was important was so simple: Faith and Family. It is a lesson I thought I would NEVER forget. However, life goes on and things call out to me and I am shocked to find myself in the same position I was in before we were given the bad news. This year I am purposing to DO less and BE more. I am going to simplify my stuff and my schedule to give God space to work. God moves in the margins of our life. What a tragic loss if we fill our lives with good and miss the great!