Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, June 24, 2013

At Your Home Do You Enjoy or Protect?

I've only seen a partial episode of the reality show Hoarders but that was probably enough for a while. Each week the program focuses on a person or family who literally hoards everything from old boxes to tools to clothes to you name it. In most cases their homes are a mess and every room is piled with stuff. I can't imagine living that way for even a day.

However, there seems to be a common reason behind most of the hoarding, one that is closer to where many of us live than we care to admit. They can't imagine losing it for fear that they might need it someday.

They can have a hundred empty shirt boxes but won't throw any away because they might need one and one is never enough. That pile of magazines probably has an article, ad or coupon that could come in handy. That shed full of tools, broken and worn, might meet a need for them or a neighbor.

And while saving things, making do with what we have and not being wasteful have their merits, hoarding like this is really just selfishness and many of us are at least tainted by it. In fact there are probably some deep-seated insecurities and self image issues that have never been resolved in hoarders and us.

Nonetheless, in most cases we too have WAY more than what we need and we can become protectors and hoarders in our own right. We spend thousands of dollars on what we deem necessities that people in most of the world would call luxuries and in some cases would like to have just one.

So we live a lot of our lives trying to protect our stash rather than wisely using just enough.  We accumulate and accumulate just a little bit more.  And we model the same for our children who pass along similar habits to their kids. People alive who lived through the depression still think this way but that mentality has made it to today as well in some forms.

In fact today there are two extremes:  use things up and then buy a new one or never throw anything away and try to get more. Both are misguided.  I'll talk about the consumer mentality in another post.

For now let's talk about how can we live a life of contentment with what we have versus being those in the protective camp who fear losing anything.

1.  Regularly take inventory and throw away (or give away) things you aren't using or don't need.   I have a lot of books that I've had to buy or read for my counseling and pastoral ministry over the years.  However, whenever I get a new book now I throw or give one away.  I'm just not going to add to my collection anymore.  We need to do something similar in our homes.

Some say if it's been there a year or more and you haven't use it get rid of it. You decide.

2.  Get rid of some of your storage by downsizing or selling some places you have that just pile up more stuff.  Some people have sheds, multiple homes or other places where they are keeping things that they just don't use. But they are paying to store it or asking someone else to manage it. Say goodbye and pass it on to someone else who could benefit or just throw it out.

3.  Enjoy what you have, don't hide it away somewhere.  Sure, we should take care of and maintain those things we've been blessed with. We should help things last as long as possible. But also take time to enjoy special items - pictures, collections, hobby items, special souvenirs, etc. They were made to be used.

4. Get involved in the lives of people needier than you.  They will remind you of how much you have that you don't really need. The more we spend time here or in other countries with people who have so little we'll realize how little we could live on.  And the less we have the less we have to take care of.  Aren't there better things we could do with our resources?

You bet!

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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