gospel living spiritual

The Clutter of Emotional Hoarding

9:51 AMHeather

I am a hoarder. Now, if you know me well, you know that my house is pretty organized, so my confession would come as a surprise. I don't have huge piles of trash or belongings or clutter lying around my home. So you may not understand when I confess that I have a big problem with hoarding.

Here's the gut wrenching truth. If you could see inside my heart and mind, you would see the piles. You would see the distracting clutter that I coddle like a comfort item and refuse to release. I feel no pride in this fact, but in fact, I feel shame. 

 Photo courtesy of Kasman from www.Pixabay.com

While it's not easy to admit, I think I must because I think I'm not the only one. I think someone else needs to be transparent. I think someone reading this needs me to be brutally honest. I think I'm in good company when I say that we need to come clean with ourselves and each other so that we can move forward in our walk toward having a proper affection for Jesus.

If we are to be affected by the person of Jesus and the gospel story... if we are to reach the point of having our hearts stirred to obedience prompted by great affections, then we have to deal with the hoarding. 

We have to deal with the planks in our own eye. 

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way
you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure
you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Matthew 7:1-3

I am coming to believe that emotional hoarding is the source of one of the largest and hardest "planks" we tend to face. Mourning and grieving and reliving the wounds from others can fester until it becomes a mountain of an issue that blinds us to the reality of who Christ wants to be in our lives. 
 
The truth is that if we could actually know and experience God's character more fully, we would be enraptured by his goodness. We would be unwound by his glory. We would be changed by his majesty. We would order all of our affections and our loves and our lives around him. 

Consider the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6 when he catches a glimpse of God's glory during his vision of God's throne. Or, Paul on the road to Damascus seeing the wonder of Christ in the blinding light. Moses at the burning bush, told to take off his shoes on that holy ground. Or the disciples on the mount of transfiguration.

The truth of Scripture tells us that when ordinary men run headlong into the holiness of God and truly get a glimpse of him, it is beyond what their human minds can comprehend. They are bought to their knees. They are changed. 

This is God's will for every one of us -- to know him and see him rightly as Sovereign and Holy and Majestic. To be still and know him. To experience him. To dare to allow the veils of our hearts to be lifted so that we can actually enter the Holy of Holies and be in his presence. It is why the veil in the temple of Jerusalem was torn as Jesus died. Through the sacrifice on the cross, we are meant to have direct access to the Lord God Almighty.

Yet we don't wholly embrace it. We don't experience him fully. We live our lives and sit in our pews and read our Bibles and we even pray. Yet we miss it. We miss these glimpses of glory that would unravel and impact and move us. We miss them because we are stumbling over ourselves.

We miss it because we don't hunger for his glory and the revelation of it nearly enough. And, I'm coming to believe that emotional hoarding is one of the largest hindrances and obstacles to our ability to hunger for God's glory. 

We turn our attention to the objects of our emotional hoarding instead of having a great affection for him stirred within is. 

Allow me to explain exactly what emotional hoarding is. It is the idea that we stuff our feelings and emotions from our places of trials and woundings. We shove it all in the attic of our hearts and slam the door shut. And all the clutter of emotional hoarding is taking up space within our souls that God is wanting to inhabit. 

We can so easily think that we are over things in our past. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we are following God with all our hearts because we are in denial about the piles of emotional hoarding within us. We pretend the hoarding isn't happening, but we store up our feelings toward people and the offenses they've brought to us. And we hoard our feelings toward God regarding these scenarios. 

A telltale sign of emotional hoarding is the habit of repeatedly rehearsing the trials, conversations, and offenses we've suffered, as well as reliving the feelings of pain that these things brought. 

If you find yourself rehearsing some past wounding in your mind and memory, then you might struggle with emotional hoarding. 

If gatherings with close friends often cycle toward conversations where you relive and retell some former event where you were wronged or offended, then you might wrestle with emotional hoarding.

When we allow these old pains and former trials to take up residence in our hearts, we are allowing their rotting stench to take up sacred space meant to be reserved for God alone. He intends to inhabit our inner being. He wants to fill up our minds with his truth, and have his Spirit take residence within us. 

A soul crowded with old junk is not a life surrendered and welcoming to Christ. 

It's a problem. This emotional hoarding is a problem. It's a problem in my own life and my own faith walk. I confess it. It's something I've been wrestling with as of late because I'm finally owning it. To be honest, I'm finally feeling over it. 

And so, as I wrestle forward, I want to begin a series of posts regarding this issue. I'm going to share with you the insights I've been gleaning toward clearing out the soul clutter. It's been a season of unraveling and revelation and I intend to keep sharing my journey by way of helping you on yours.

That we might run our race well. That we might take a good hard look within ourselves and examine our souls to identify any piles that need to be removed. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1 

For today, here's my challenge to you. Take time to prayerfully consider the things you are rehearsing and retelling to yourself and others. If these things involve past wounding and trials, then you might be allowing some emotional hoarding to take up residence within you. And that clutter can grieve and quench the Spirit from filling you up. 

We can do this. We can take out the trash from emotional hoarding. 

First, we have to pause long enough to take inventory of the spaces deep within us and admit where we are hoarders. 

It's going to be worth it. I promise. 

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