Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Confessions of a "Hoarder"

Aw, the fun process of packing and deciding what goes and what stays.

One of my mom's frequent requests of me while growing up was to please tackle my "clutter." I seemed to have perpetual stacks of papers, books, and miscellaneous items - on my desk, on the floor, on the dresser.

You could always differentiate between my half of the room and my sister's - I had more "stuff" and it was scattered.

I tried to comply, but finally concluded I was conducting "pile-it (pilot) programs." However, my mom didn't find my "programs" humorous or necessary and still insisted I clear my stacks.

Over the years, I have learned how to manage my clutter - kind of. One thing about only being allowed to take 50 pound bags back and forth across the world is you soon learn what is really important. Sadly, though I love books, they have often been pulled out of my overweight bags, to leave room for lighter items like tea, clothes, or gummy bears. :) Inevitably, there is always stuff that gets left behind, with the hope I can bring it back next time.

But even in this type of "minimalist" lifestyle, I still tend to accumulate more than what I really "need."

God has shown me this is also true in regard to more than my physical possessions.

I confess - I am a hoarder; a hoarder of "securities." Basically I like to fill my life with what I believe will make me feel "secure." Keeping people close and relationships simple, enjoying an organized, trouble-free schedule, having my "comforts" close by. When life is going well, I feel secure and safe, and I am happy and content. And, the more I "hoard" of these securities, the greater my false sense that everything is "a-okay."

But, when doubtless things get out of whack, even a smidgen, I kind of freak at the loss of my "security."

Perhaps one of the biggest purposes for God moving me to Uganda was to strip me of what I had been holding much too closely - family, friends, a church family, people who know and understand me, a good job, stability, predictability, language I understand, skills I have mastered, places I know like the back of my hand.

I frequently feel like a fish out of water here in Uganda. After five years I still find myself stumped by the language, by the culture, by the customs, by things that don't go as quickly, as smoothly or as "normally" as I think they really should. And, I don't always like this feeling - of insecurity, of not invariably knowing what is happening around me or what is occurring next.

But this stripping away has made me all the more aware of how much I need Him and Him first and foremost. I had been trusting in all of those people and things, gripping them tightly, and unable to put my full trust in Jesus because my hands and heart were just too full. The above are not bad in themselves, but when they displace Jesus, they compete with my affections for Him.

In my mind there is a difference between security and safety. One can be secure, but not necessarily safe.

When I seek security in people or things, but am not abiding in Christ, I am not really safe from what may harm me. But when I make Him my chief hope and trust, I am safe. And even when I encounter danger or hardship or trials or difficulties, I am safe in Him. Nothing will happen to me without first receiving His approval.

As I loosen my grip (and it is a process!) on what I have "hoarded," there is a succeeding and abiding peace and comfort that only the steadfast presence of Jesus brings. We can sing "It Is Well With My Soul" not because there is no storm, but because He is with us in it.

By His grace, Jesus is helping me to conquer my "hoarding" habit - both physically and spiritually.

The world is becoming an increasingly scary and unsafe place. Our only hope for abiding and eternal safety and security is under the shadow of His wings.

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, 'The Lord is my refuge,' and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
'Because he loves me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.'" - Psalm 91


  1. Wow! I was relating to your pile-it philosophy, and then found myself relating to your attempts to hoard security. Thanks for talking about this! And it makes me wonder--how fluent are you in the language now? Do you have much need for it, or are you conversing in English the majority of the time?

    1. Mikaela, thanks for the comment! It's amazing to me as to how God pinpoint things in my life that actually keep me from drawing close to Him, and sadly, how often I shy away from the very things that would draw me closer - challenges and such. Unfortunately, I am not fluent in the language at all, but in my work with the students I use English almost entirely. It is one of my goals is to really focus on learning Luganda. :)

  2. Ruthie

    I really appreciated your story. Good humour.

    What do you like the best of being in Uganda for five years? What do you like the least?
    How many souls have you lead to Christ? Are you serving with other American believers?