Hoarding! Why do people do it?

by Joe on December 15, 2009

Hoarding  is such a creepy condition, that you have to be self aware of your situation or you might wake up one day and realize that you have turned yourself into a hoarder. Defined in the dictionary as acquisition/accumulation of and failure to use  supplies,  hoarding may make one materially wealthy by giving a false ideology of self preservation, but it leads spiritual impoverishment at the end.

There is a psychological condition associated with hoarding often referred to as compulsive hoarding.  I will briefly strip scientific view of this subject on this article, and highlight a Christian perspective to the condition. However, please understand that I do not in any way want undermine scientific research, or intend to imply that these scientific facts are somehow irrelevant. What I wish to accomplish is take a look at this condition and create brief correlation with Christian living. My main prayer is that if you are struggling with this condition, you will find healing and restoration in your heart and mind.

The big Question! Why people result to hoarding

# 1 Fear of tomorrow

I believe that this is the root cause of this condition. A victim engages in combat anxiety-provoking thoughts such as: “What if I run out?” “What if I need to know something and don’t have the information available?” “What if I put it away and can’t find it?” “What if the way I organize it isn’t the right way?” “What if I throw it away but the day comes when I really need it?”

This is due to lack of faith…we put our security in our finances, our jobs, and other tangible material things other than finding security in God. As a result, when these elements are shifted, we put a defensive front and it can manifest itself in form of hoarding… we start piling up stuff, we quit sharing and giving and helping others because we are anxious about tomorrow.

But Jesus asked “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? (Luke 12:25)

# 2. Selfishness

This is a character issue, and no one is immune to it. English dictionary defines it as “being concerned with your own interests, needs, and wishes while ignoring those of others” This character can exemplify itself in form of hoarding. Why? because may be i want to be better than him, or i really don’t care about anybody else.

Philippians 2:3 talks about this condition “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves”.

Dealing with hoarder’s condition

Steward Mentality
We all need the means to put bread on the table, roof over our heads and some stuff to enjoy as we journey through life, but we have to constantly remember that these are just avenues that God has opened for us and we are just stewards of God’s resources, and he expect from us to use these resources for His Glory.

Get an accountability partner/ team
If struggling with ‘hoarding condition’ I highly recommend getting accountability partner(s) who is not afraid to question your motives and point out your flaws; someone you respect and can listen to.  Proverbs 15:22 “Where there are no wise suggestions, purposes come to nothing; but by a number of wise guides they are made certain.”

Ask God for Wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  James 1:5 NIV

Do not keep more than you need
Constantly keep this in mind, whenever you shop, or store stuff, resist the temptation to worry about the inadequacies of tomorrow because it does not belong to you. That means you plan, you budget, you prepare, but stand above anxiety.

Be proactive
Start now and remove the clutters out of your life, as noted earlier, give some of what you do not need to the thrift store, throw a yard sale and use that to pay off some debt, whatever it is! start now.

Reach out
One of the best ways of learning is to teach, if you are in this condition, do not resign to the fact that you are a hoarder. Use it as a platform to reach out to other people struggling with the same condition and let them see how you have done it. You never know how much impact you can create.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Em January 7, 2010 at 9:40 pm

makes sense no wonder Paul writes in philipians 4 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

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beverly June 11, 2011 at 12:28 am

The one thing that this article is wrong about is saying the horder is selfish. I personally have been a horder for years without even realizing it. You would think that someone would recognize they are a horder but if you have a problem like that and you realize it, then you would also relaize to get help. I currently am sifting through my things to get rid of and have started doing this on my own. I thank God for the horder show on A & E because that has really helped me to understand my own self a little better. I have no one to help me except for God on the emotional as well as the clutter part of it. I have been isolated for years and I have tried making friends but it seems that has been unsuccessful and my husband left me and cheated on me and I have no relationships with my family. I think that is really what started all this. I just felt no need to clean or do much of anything because no one ever came by anyway. I have had no one but God. I can truely say that He is helping me. I have a psychology degree and that has not even helped me to understand myself. Sometimes it takes someone looking from the outside of the situation to realize how to fix the problem. I still have no one in my life but I feel much better since I am getting rid of the clutter. I have thrown out over 20 trash bags of junk and got 24 boxes for yard sale or donate. I am still going through my things. It may seem to be a selfish condition but it really is not. It is an emotional problem that God and counselors need to help the person through. The things are only the symptoms of deeper issues.

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Joe June 23, 2011 at 5:25 pm

beverly,
I can only Imagine what you’ve been through and i pray that God will give you strength to overcome this setback.

As you have stated, hoarding is just a symptom of deeper issues that need to be dealt with- and usually people who have this problem do not realize that they do. That is why an accountability partner becomes very crucial to overcome this problem because they can see what you don’t.

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Sherry August 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

I would appreciate your prayers and advice

Im a 49 yr old married woman and homeschooler with 3 kids. We have a basement filled with junk, and it is overwhelming. My husband wont throw things away, my kids have the same problem and so I feel like I am fighting a losing battle. Whenever the junk pick up calls, I always try to have some things for them, but it never seems to make a dent. I have cried, begged, pleaded with my family for help but they wont budge to help me clean everything out. My husband says it all needs to go, but when I suggest something of his, he immediately changes his mind to protect what is his. Please dont suggest everyone agree to throw out things little by little, the only way it will work is for an ‘Extreme dumping out of things’, though I dont know how to do it without my family’s consent. Also I did not mention I have serious back problems and one reason I cannot deal with this myself. My husband has no sympathy for my health and always asking why I cannot clean it up myself since he goes to work all day. My marriage is suffering, my house is a disaster pit, and I feel like I am a prisoner in my own home.
Thanks for your help and prayers
Elizabeth
Kentucky

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Joe August 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm

We pray that God will strengthen you and bless you with good health, that your marriage will hold strong, and that your current situation about junk in your basement will be resolved.
Something i may suggest though, is – seeking professional help if nothing gets resolved in the near future. If that is not an option, have some of your family friends who are not afraid of telling you as it is (I call them accountability partners) talk to your family about the tear that this ‘junk in the basement’ is creating in your family unit.
We wish well and will follow up sometime to see how this is progressing.
Joe

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Getting Delivered April 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Right now the Lord is purifying me and getting to the heart of many issues of my life. He’s going to the deep places. The show “Hoarders” has snapped me into reality, I also do ask myself those questions above, the Lord has shown me also that I do have a problem with selfishness. I cleaned up alot of stuff and some smaller stacks of stuff are still around, but my bathrooms are dirty, honestly, they are gross. I cleaned my kitchen but my dishes are all outside, waiting for the exterminator to come and take care of my infestation problem. I’m so ashamed of what I have become, but the Lord is bringing me out of it. I do know that I snapped one day as a child and became a perfectionist, because nothing was good enough for my dad. I was beaten to a pulp many times and molested for years by my father, I even cleaned up blood from the floor when he beat my mom. He used to wake us every morning to clean the house at 3 am so that when we went to school the house would already be clean. I think my problem may have started from there, I have my own life and home and maybe I think in a weird way that I’m rebelling. I don’t know, but I am getting help. I have never told a living soul about my current living situation, but God has a plan for me and now I must reveal to my pastors and ask them for help. I’m so ashamed and embarrased, but here goes…there but before the grace of God go I. Pray for me and God bless you for this article.

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Sue June 22, 2012 at 9:03 am

Selfish? That is ignorant. Hoarding is a compulsive, emotional issue. Until emotional issues are resolved it will continue. As far as asking God for wisdom, that’s nice, but most likely ineffective unless there is an address of the psychological and emotional components that drive the behavior. Cleaning out a hoarders stash can induce anxiety and it is a short term fix. Look at it like alcoholism, or addiction. It will be more effective.

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Joe June 25, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Sue- I know hoarding can be chronic and even worse than alcoholism, and that is why reaching out for help is very important. Asking God for wisdom is not ineffective i personally believe it’s one most effective thing that a human being can do.

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Anne August 8, 2012 at 7:45 am

Thank you Joseph for writing an article on hoarding from a Christian perspective. May God bless you and yours. I also want to thank “Getting Delivered” for sharing their comment; may God also bless her/him.

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