CONFESSIONS OF A HOARDER

Sometimes there are things in life that I just can’t seem to let go.  I don’t consider myself a hoarder but I do have things that I “put away” just because I love them.

For instance, I know that somewhere in the back of my dresser drawer, I have not one, but two pairs of shorts that I love dearly and I would never give them over to the needy or to a trash can.  First of all, nobody would want them because they are so ugly and secondly, they are “granny” shorts and very practical, with big wide legs and and elastic waistbands that when stretched, almost go up right to my neck (which is a euphemism for boobs).  FullSizeRender (1)The best thing about them is that they have the roomiest pockets of any shorts I’ve ever owned and they are fantastic for wearing on the beach when I’m looking for sea glass and shells.  I can store several pounds of treasures in each pocket and have my hands free to sift through troves of sand and goodies!  I don’t care how ugly they are, come Summertime, I pull them out and put them to good use.

I have other things I store away.  Boxes of my children’s childhood memories, handmade cards, drawings and Vacation Bible School crafts sit neatly stacked in my garage.  I rarely look into the boxes but they are there, waiting for me like old friends if I would like to visit with them for a while.

There is a collection of books I wouldn’t want to give away either.  I’ve read them before but I enjoyed them so much I thought that one day I might want to read them again.  They too, are outside in the garage and I haven’t looked at them since I put them there but I don’t want to let them go.  One day I may pick one of them up and read a wonderful familiar story.  FullSizeRender

Most of us have the good sense to know what to keep and what to throw away. If we didn’t, we could have all been candidates for the now cancelled A&E TV show, “Hoarders.”  I always felt so sorry for the people on that show that I couldn’t watch a complete episode.  Ten minutes into their reality and I was ready to change the channel.  I was embarrassed for these victims of deep rooted, psychological problems and couldn’t bear their transparency before millions of viewers.  It seemed that they were being exploited for my entertainment.

People that watched the program encouraged me to, “Watch it until the end!  They get counseling!  Their families get behind them and support them!  It’s great!  They let go of all their clutter and clean their houses!” Even knowing that, I felt too overwhelmed at the beginning of the show to wait for the redemption. It was too sad for me. For every one of “Hoarders” victories, I knew that there were still thousands of other hoarders “out there” who would still be living in their hellish messes.FullSizeRender (2)

Maybe some of the things you despise most about other people are the things you are guilty of yourself. For example, have you ever heard of ministers repeatedly getting on “their soapbox” about a certain sin only to hear later (usually through the media) that they were caught carrying out the very sin they were desperately preaching against? I couldn’t stand the show, “Hoarders,” but I began to realized that in spite of my relatively clean house and garage, I had a hoarding problem too.  I collected words, phrases, sentences, the remembrance of a look, a snub and the feeling of rejection.

Some people that I had loved with all my heart had hurt my feelings.  I had respected them and cherished that part of my life I had spent with them.  My heart was broken.  Not knowing how to deal with it all, I took the whole experience and boxed it up and stored it in my attic.  My brain.

To have all of this hurt stored up and boxed away at first did not bother me.  In fact it empowered me in a weird kind of way.  It justified my reason for being angry with the people who had caused my pain. I built a wall up with my boxes of rejection to keep from meeting new people and letting others into my life.  What if they hurt me like the ones I had loved so much? It felt good to know all those words and visuals were stored close by so that I could get them out and look at them whenever I wanted to.  I needed to remind myself of the pain they had caused me.

I was a word hoarder of the worst kind.  No amount of back porch therapy and talking with spiritual friends I had seemed to help.  My hoarding issues were as bad as any of the poor souls on the pitiful TV show.  I had talked myself into becoming a victim of hurt and I started feeling shameful about it.  I couldn’t let go of the junk.

I knew I needed to forgive them if I wanted to go on and prosper mentally, emotionally and spiritually.   I would say over and over to myself:  “I forgive them.  I forgive them.”  I even asked God many times to help me forgive them but as soon as I would get the word “forgive” out of my mouth, a replay of the whole experience would start again in my mind.  I would console myself and justify my hurt once again.  This self justification made itself at home in my mind and soon I had filled it with thought patterns that were detrimental and of no use to me.  I was a prisoner to my trashy brain.

It’s a good thing God knows when we’ve had enough of our own thoughts and thankfully, He always offers a door, a window or a pathway to escape the mess we have gotten ourselves into.  I remember an episode on “Hoarders.”  The person had literally boxed himself into the corner and couldn’t get out without crawling over the junk and that was up over halfway to the ceiling.  It was his living room!  God can even “beam you up” if He has to.

My “help” or rescue presented itself to me on October 31, a couple of months ago.  We had been told, since it was the first Halloween in our new neighborhood to prepare for a lot of children trick-or-treating.  Our neighborhood has many military families and they all seemed to participate in the fun.  Plus, other families from nearby neighborhoods came.  Some adults were sitting out in their driveways waiting for the kids to call and a truck pulling a trailer with hay (a hay ride) was making its way through the streets letting kids get off, trick-or-treat at a few houses and then they’d all get back on it and go through each block.  Bill and I had decided to join the fun and brought tons of candy.

We sat on our front porch and while we played scary orchestral music we dropped lots of candy into the bags of the waiting children.  I couldn’t believe how many of the little girls were Elsa, the Frozen Queen from the movie “Frozen.”  I hadn’t seen the movie (although I was aware of the movie’s famous song, “Let It Go,”)  but the parents all informed me that their little girls were Elsa, “You know.  From the movie?”  By the end of the night I did know. I supposed that at least seventy-five percent of them were Elsa’s.  As I held the fistfuls of candy over their bags I imagined the little girls with shining eyes saying, “Let it go!  Open that hand! Let us have that candy!”

If I had my spiritual “ears on” and my “eyes open,” I would have heard clearly. “LET IT GO!” When a song gets as much attention from the world as this Disney one has, you have to wonder if God is using it to give hurting people in His world a message.  “Let the hurtful thoughts and words go!”  But my mind was too cluttered to recognize that God was trying to tell me something.  I did think the little girls were cute and made many comments later about how many Elsa’s we had on Halloween.

The next attempt at God’s rescue was much more blatant.  Definitely louder.  I was at  Barnes and Nobles in Jacksonville, standing in the children’s toy department looking for Christmas presents for my granddaughters.  It was a few Saturdays before Christmas and the store was packed with people.  There was music playing over the speakers and because they were selling the new DVD,  “Frozen,” they played the song, “Let It Go.”

Now, this is where it got a bit weird.  Every person in the store starting singing the song and if they weren’t singing, they were humming it! Loudly!  The employees were singing with smiles on their faces as they walked up and down the aisles and between the shelves of books as they were helping the customers, who were singing it too!

“Let it go, let it golet-it-go-balloon

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn my back and slam the door

And here I stand

And here I’ll stay

Let it go, let it go

The cold never bothered me anyway.”

Grandmothers pushing their grandchildren in strollers with their husbands trailing behind them were singing “Let it go!  Let it go,” shamelessly.   Were they giving me sideways glances as they passed me by?  I started to feel a bit self conscious.  Children were sitting at a play table belting it out and teenagers were singing it under their breaths, a bit embarrassed.  But they couldn’t help themselves.  I thought for a moment that I was in a flash mob.  I waited for a dance to go along with it but the movement in the aisles almost seemed choreographed or staged.  I felt as if I was the only one not participating, like they were performing  for me.

It felt so odd that I actually posted about my experience on a Facebook status, getting several comments. Some people loved the song, some were sick of it and never wanted to hear it again as long as they lived! The most interesting comment I got, though,  came in the form of a personal message.  It was my friend, Heather.  She had started a Bible study and her first “lesson” was based on a devotion she had found, called “Let It Go.”  You can find it at, http://www.juliabettencourt.com/dev/letitgodev.html.  It was about how that Disney song had spoken to the writer about letting some things go in her life that were holding her back from living free.

I thanked Heather for sharing that with me and realized that ever since October, God had been trying to rescue me from my own brain.  He’d been trying to offer me a rope to lift me out of the clutter of hurtful words and bitter thoughts that I had held onto and stored in my memory.  All of a sudden, I had a thought.  What if the God of the universe, staged the “semi” flash mob scene in Barnes and Nobles, just for me?  Just for poor, little ole Donna Byrd who couldn’t for the life of her get out of her own head?

Now I know that the mere words, “Let It Go,” are only words and in themselves, aren’t magic.  But when I see that God was trying to tell me, since Halloween,  that He wanted to help me sweep out the junk in my mind that was holding me hostage,  it somehow gave me the faith I needed to say “I let it go” and mean it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Those hurtful thoughts pop into my thoughts daily. They were there for so long, they miss the places they were stored in my mind.  They want back in!  I’m constantly saying to them, “No!  I let you go!  I let all of you horrible words and thoughts go!  I can’t waste my time thinking about you anymore.  Sometimes I have to say that ten or more times a day.  As the days go on,  I’ll say it less and less.  The thoughts will ease and disappear and as they do, forgiveness will take their place and my attic will be swept clean.  It’s a process and it’s working!

UPDATE:  I noticed yesterday as I was walking through my attic (brain,) there were just a couple of boxes stacked in the corner.  I looked closer at them, wondering what in the world they were.  I thought I had gotten rid of those bad thoughts.  But you know what?  They were just some pleasant memories I had found from the same folks that had hurt me earlier.  It’s amazing that I found when I’m not concentrating on the bad, I had time to remember the good. Those thoughts just boxed themselves up and now they’re there, waiting like old friends, in case I want to take a peek at them sometime.  I think I’ll keep them!  After all, we did have some wonderful times.

No mystery what your song will be this time.  Enjoy, and if you need to let something go, why not start now?

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Isaacabyrd Groenwald
    Feb 04, 2015 @ 04:59:49

    The update is my favorite part 🙂

    Thanks for sharing mama!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

  2. Julie S
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 19:27:43

    Thanks for sharing this. I have had similar experiences with the song/movie. So much so that strangers have stopped me to tell me I look like Elsa. You’re not alone. We all get stuck in moments. My friend heather sent me that same devotional. As always you are an inspiration, Donna. Share your words. They change things.

    Reply

    • themuseinme
      Feb 05, 2015 @ 19:39:41

      Julie, I do believe you are my spirit sister, if there is such a thing! That’s so funny about people stopping you and commenting about how you look like Elsa! I guess you could say, “Here’s my sign!” Heather is a true-blue Godsend. We’re blessed to have her in our lives. I love you. I enjoy your family pictures and comments on FB. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Julie S
    Feb 06, 2015 @ 04:22:32

    If there is such a thing, I am GLAD and honored to be yours. 🙂 Haha, yes, it’s a sign. That and my 2 year old, who only has a select few things that can be deciphered, can sing it loud and clear. Agreed on H. Love you too.

    Reply

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