I can't watch the show Hoarders, it's too sad. I've seen several episodes and what interests me most is why people live that way. How in the world? For the most part, each story is the same. Something happens to them, usually a loss, and in their efforts to try to comfort themselves they begin to accumulate things. They shop, they buy, they stuff...trying to fill the hole that their loss has left. Nothing works, and in their efforts and their grief they lose touch with reality. They stop smelling the stench, they stop seeing the mess. It starts out slowly, and seemingly harmlessly until over time they discover they have buried themselves and it is so enormous that it becomes unmanageable. Or worse yet, it becomes normal.
I watch it and it seems unreal to me...how can they do that to themselves? It's easy to judge. Until I realize that we are all capable of doing the same thing. Maybe not physically, but we can become hoarders emotionally. Holding on to hurts, bitterness, and loss. Refusing to let go of the injustices, the what-ifs, the if-onlys. We all have them, and if they are not dealt with and placed at the foot of the cross, they will accumulate slowly over time until one day we find ourselves buried. Buried in the stench of an unforgiving heart. Buried in the filth of bitterness that literally suffocates. And it blinds us until we are unable to see through it all enough to see the light from Heaven that offers forgiveness, and purpose, and hope.
I see this in some of the elderly. Those who have lived their lives hoarding emotional wounds and now find themselves at the end of their lives, reaping what they have sown. There are no amount of activities, no amount of decorating to make the place feel "homey", no amount of visitors and volunteers and special dinners that will clear all this junk out of their hearts. It holds them prisoner more than their failing health ever could, and keeps them from experiencing the peace and security and joy that should accompany each of us in our golden years. It should be a time of remembrance and rest. And for some it is. Those are the people that everyone enjoys talking to. They have a joyful heart, a story to tell, and a smile to share. But the crabby ones, the complainers, the ones that strike out or lash out verbally, or worst of all...just sit there and refuse to talk to anyone. It's a little harder with them. Whether we see them at work or at church or in a restaurant or on the street corner begging for money. They make us uncomfortable, fearful even and sometimes we avoid them altogether. But they are the ones that Jesus reached out to, and He wants us to as well. Anger masks hurt. Complaining hides disappointment and emptiness of heart. Loneliness manifests itself in silence.
So, in this new mission field God has placed me in, I am eager to do something about it. I want so badly to save everyone! If I didn't have so much paperwork to do, I think I would go around and spend my days talking to people. Holding their hands, praying with them, singing to them, talking and encouraging and loving them. That's where my heart is, but time and my other responsibilities don't allow it nearly as often as I'd like. But I do as much as I can, and one thing I've discovered is how easy it is to brighten someone's day. Even on my way to a meeting, I can take a few minutes or even a few seconds to smile, talk, touch someone and lift their spirits. They matter, those moments we are given to touch the life of another, and we are presented with them daily. Do they change eternity? Do they save the unsaved? Maybe not in that moment, but they are opportunities to give them a glimpse of the Savior that they are desperate to know.