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Fixer Upper



Comedian Michael Jr. has a stand-up act where he talks about the "good room." He gives an analogy comparing our lives to houses. He talks about the "good room" in the house--the one where the furniture is just a little nicer, the carpet is newer, and everything is perfectly in place. For anyone on the outside, it seems like this person has their whole house (life) in order, because look how great this room is! The rest of the house, however, is not nearly as clean and put together. He explains that Jesus is standing outside with a mop and a bucket waiting for you to ask him in to help you clean the rest of your house. He continues to say that Jesus won’t force His way in—that we have to ask Him to come in. We don’t have to clean the house on our own—that’s what Jesus wants to do for us.

Speaking of a dirty house, there is no show that inspires me to clean the house more than Hoarders. Hoarders is a TV show that features people who hoard a massive amount of trash and needless knickknacks collected over the years. Many times, the house is in complete disrepair, with mold and insect infestations. Plumbing and electrical systems have broken down, and most of the house is usually inaccessible. As the show progresses, we see how these people struggle to let go of any of their belongings—even broken, useless, worthless junk. Some even struggle to throw away trash.

The TV show offers psychological help to these people, as well as a clean-up crew to empty the house. You can see the psychological struggle so many of these people are going through. It’s much deeper than just collecting things or not being able to throw anything away. For these people, they are holding on to memories. They are holding on to emotions. They are holding on to all the pain and hurts in their past--or joy and happiness they once felt. This holding on to the junk is simply a manifestation of all the emotional turmoil they are experiencing.

While the people featured on Hoarders have an outward manifestation of their inner pain, so many people have the emotional pain, just not the material things to show for it. They have the pain, it's just not tangible like a hoarder's is. If we haven’t been able to give our emotional pain to God and truly heal, then we are hoarding those emotions.

Just like Michael Jr. talks about the “good room,” so many of us indeed have the good room. The rest of the house could be dirty, and we need Jesus to clean it for us. But for an emotional hoarder, their house isn’t just messy, it’s full of all the emotions they have packed away for years. The endless teases and taunts from middle school, break-up they experienced in high school, a job loss, a loved one who died, a divorce, an abandonment, all the rejection, all the pain, all the hurt, all the unanswered prayers, all the unanswered questions we have for God—sitting there collecting dust and filling up our house.

Many times, we think we heal from a pain, but in reality, we just packed them away in a box and set that box of pain on top of the other box of hurts. In many ways, it seems like it’s safe there. It's not out in the open--it’s in a safe place. I can even pretend it's not really there--because it's hidden in the box. But if I want to revisit it, then it’s right there. I can’t deal with the pain of actually getting rid of it, because it would just hurt so badly to revisit it and actually throw it out. And honestly, it’s comfortable to keep my pain close. It also takes very little work to keep it in the box--it's a lot of work to take that box to the dumpster. Then there are so many other questions, too. Where exactly do I take the box? Can I really even let the pain go? What would I fill that space with if I threw out that box of pain? Who would I be without that pain?

And forget about having visitors to my house. They can come into the good room, but that’s it. No one is allowed out of the good room, because the shame of them seeing my emotional hoard is too great to bear. And if I did let anyone close enough to see my hoard, what if they tried to help me clean it? Just like the junk hoarders on the TV show, I would resist. I don’t want anyone else touching my junk—it’s my junk. It’s my pain, and only I get to decide when and where it goes. So anyone who attempts to help me clean the junk from my emotional hoard gets cut off, and they get relegated to the good room forever. The only people I want in my life are people who tell me that my emotional hoard is ok, or people who compliment my good room. Those kind of people make me feel good. The ones who tell me I need to deal with my junk—I don’t want to deal with the junk, so I don’t want to deal with those people, either.

But deep down, I know I need to address the emotional hoard. I know that living in a junk-filled house isn’t healthy. I know I have hurts and pain that need to be taken to the junk yard. But it seems so overwhelming. It seems like I would never be able to even make a dent in that emotional hoard—there’s just too much hurt and pain there. And cleaning it all out it going to hurt so badly. It means I have to unpack it all and look at it. It means I have to figure out what will go in that spot—and maybe it needs to be an empty spot. That means I have to get used to having that empty spot where that pain used to be. That’s a scary thought.

But the answer to cleaning the emotional hoard is standing outside my front door—with boxes and a dumpster. Jesus wants to come in and take out all of the emotional hoard in my life. He wants to come clean it out—not just clean the house, but to take out every pain, every hurt, every rejection.

Not only does Jesus want to clean out my house, He wants to fix it up better than it was before. He wants to gut it of all the old—He wants to completely renovate my house. He is a master carpenter, after all. Just like Chip and Joanna take old, crusty houses and turn them into beautiful homes that are worth twice as much as before, Jesus wants to take all of the junk—not just my emotional hoard, but He wants to take out the old rusty sink and rotting floorboards. He wants to give me that new farmhouse sink and lots of shiplap. I just have to be willing to let Him in the front door, give Him the keys and let Him work in my life.

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