The other day I needed some time to veg out. It had been a long day and my brain needed some time away from the reality of kids, housecleaning, pregnancy and to-do lists.
I checked out Netflix and decided to watch an episode of Hoarders. I admit it, I wanted something that was going to make me feel good. I've been working to declutter and organize my home lately and although I wouldn't have admitted it at the time, deep down I was hoping to gather some "Ha! My house doesn't look like that!" kind of good feelings from the show.
All began well. Until I heard people say over and over again that they were called "pack rats" as children and that many hoarders grow up in homes with organized parents. I started to freak out a little bit as I thought back to the day before when I had spent two hours cleaning out my boys' room. And then I freaked out a little more as I realized just how often we call a couple of our children "pack rats". What if my children grow up to become hoarders??!!! What can I possibly do to prevent such a difficult road for them?
I ended the show second guessing my parenting skills. Certainly not the feel good fuzzies I'd been hoping for.
And now I've spent two days contemplating the show, my life and the lives of my children.
But I'm more encouraged now. Because I have realized several very important things. First, I am not a hoarder. Although my house is often a mess and we certainly have more than we need, in reflection I can see that I've made a deliberate decision to spend time with my children rather than focus on a perfect house.
Second, although hoarding is definitely often tied to psychological issues, there was something that stood out in each hoarder's comments. Their joy is in their stuff.
Several times I heard the hoarders or their spouses confess that they derived great joy from shopping for these items. Others found joy in the actual stuff - sometimes because of the memories attached to the items and sometimes because it gave them a sense of worth or self-confidence.
Why do I find these things to be so encouraging? Because it means that there is hope for my pack rat children. It means that I have the opportunity to teach them to find their joy in a source that will not destroy them. What source is that? The one true Source of joy: Jesus Christ!
As I was looking up verses in the Bible about joy, I found this one:
"For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting." Ecclesiastes 2:26
There are many verses that talk about joy. There are a few that I really like.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
Speaking of the righteous: Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. Isaiah 61:7 (I found this one particularly appropriate given that with hoarding also comes a deep sense of shame because of the messy and sometimes unsanitary conditions. And so many hoarders have 2, 3, or 10 of the same item simply so that they can have whatever they need on hand at any given time. They collect to provide for themselves, but God will provide a double portion for the righteous - a portion we don't have to buy!)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4
That last one is the kicker. I want my children to walk in God's ways - which the Bible says again and again is the source of our joy.
If I'm to understand Scripture correctly, I can protect my children from hoarding and so many other destructive behaviors by teaching them the truth found in God's Word. If I consistently model trust in God's provision - and draw their attention to the many ways He provides - they will be much more likely to place their trust in Jehovah Jireh once they leave the nest.
I have no desire to come down hard on those who are hoarding. I'm not trying to point my finger and say, "Shame on you!" But for the grace of God, that would be me! Instead, I'm thankful for the opportunity to reevaluate what I'm teaching my children. Stuff is simply that ... stuff. You can't take it with you when you die. But joy in the Lord? That can last eternity!
Where do you place your joy?