My 4-year-old has a hoarding problem. Every day as she meanders around the house playing, she gathers, stores and carries. Gathers, stores and carries. Gathers, stores and carries. Like a cute little chipmunk, that Elliana. She usually has some sort of bag or basket. Sometimes she’ll grab a bowl or a box. Sometimes she’ll grab a bag, a basket, a bowl AND a box. Dragging her treasures from place to place, accumulating more as the day goes on.
Note, in the above picture, the amount of stuff she is carrying. And she is still in her pajamas, indicating that it’s still morning. Or maybe early afternoon on a lazy day.
When I say she hoards everything, I’m not exaggerating. Sure, she’ll collect toys. But she’ll also add to her collection of toys loose change, barrettes, DVD’s, chap stick, writing utensils, candy wrappers, string, rocks, dry cereal…she’s an equal opportunity hoarder.
The other night as we were about to head out to Elijah’s baseball game, she dragged herself to the door, along with a purse, a large bag and two Easter baskets full of stuff. She intended to take all of it to the baseball fields to play. She could barely walk.
Long story short…I had to quickly wrestle three bags/baskets out of my sweet girl’s hands before we boarded the car. And even then, with only one purse left in her possession, she still clutched an armful of useless junk. And she was NOT happy with her Momma.
Every time this happens, I try to reason with her. I explain that where we are going, we don’t need toys. I wish she could understand the freedom that comes with running unencumbered with her little friends outside. But when forced to put something down, she’s powerless to decide what must stay and what must go. All of it is relevant, in its own little junky way. She’s convinced she needs every single stray barrette and piece of dry cereal. She simply cannot part with her treasures.
During our pre-baseball game junk negotiations that night, God whispered in my ear,
“Daughter, you are just like her. You start out each day fresh. Nothing in your hands. But then the gathering process begins. You start picking things up, one at a time.
A nagging thought.
Sometimes you manage to accomplish this before your feet even hit the floor. And you carry these things from place to place, feeling more and more burdened as the day goes on.”
Interesting thing: I know I cannot carry it all. I’ll be the first one to admit that. But sometimes I feel paralyzed to decide what should stay and what should go. I gaze upon all my treasures until my vision blurs.
I know when I picked this up, it was relevant, useful, necessary. I had a very good reason for choosing to carry this.
Or did I?
What did I pick up on my own and what did God hand me? What do I need today? How do I decide what I must keep? If anything?
So I stand here today, as helpless and vulnerable as my 4-year-old, desperately clinging to all my stuff—physical, mental, spiritual and relational stuff. I just feel like plopping it all down on the floor, and me with it. I need to trust God to sort through it all, and hand me only what He wants me to take today. Because there is always enough room, enough strength, enough time and enough grace for His will.
I need to trust that the place God’s leading me requires nothing more than empty hands and humble obedience.