Hoarding or Healing

I’m a life long reader. I was a school library monitor and part of a Baby Sitter Book Club on my bus in Year 6. I’m one of my local Christian bookshop’s most regular customers (it doesn’t help my book addiction that they are a mere 4 kilometres from my home and on the way home from work). I don’t have a room for the dreamed of library in this home but I do have a bookcase in every room of the house except the

laundry and bathroom.

Hello, my name is Gail and I hoard books. Sort of, maybe, well not as many as I used to.

I read good books multiple times. For great novels we’re talking dozens of times. So I can justify the buying of books. Then there’s the inspirational non-fiction I have to help me grow. And the biographies that reveal other’s journeys and remind me that my life is grand. And books to help me be a better leader, gardener and cook (I need lots of those at the moment, cook books that is).

Yet my library space has been dramatically reduced recently as my spare room has new residents so I am sitting here surrounded by boxes of books and the massive decision about how many books and book cases to keep and which treasures will stay and which books can go.

As I look at the piles of books there are some I’ve bought and hung on to because I thought I’d read them and now it’s been five years or so and they haven’t been touched… Others are favourites from my childhood that I carted from house to house to house (24 moves in all). Still others are shiny and recently acquired and have that lovely new book smell… but I’m a bit over Amish romance novels, they are all a bit too much the same… Then there are my whole collections of novels by favourite authors like Dee Henderson, Erynn Mangum, Lori Wick, Janette Oak and Georgette Heyer. Is there an expiry date on keep these? Should I have grown out of them or something… are they taking up space that a better author’s books could have? And then there are the books fueling the dreams of my heart, books on marriage, kids, ministry… will these dreams come true and the gold inside these books be used by me?

Did I mention I already culled about 300 books from my shelves in one hit about 2 years ago when my church did a Christian book drive for a church in Fiji? And a few score more set up the Book Exchange at my church… and still I have at least 500 books when I only read 50 odd a year…. I know some of these books will never be read by me but… it’s hard to let go. Decisions, decisions… what to keep and what to let go?

As I sit here procrastinating the decisions I ponder the other kind of hoard I, we, do in our lives.

Hoarding of the intangible kind. Things like unforgiveness, embarrassing moments, heartbreaks, jealousies, bitterness, grief and lost dreams. So many negatives cluttering our heart, thoughts and life. Even when we are busy with work, church and other things we know these thing linger. Like the excessive books in my home…

I constantly have this uneasy invisible thing gnawing inside me, like an aphid on a rose, knowing that boxes of books clutter my living space and my To Do List and mind. I have unread books leering at me, accusing me of wasting money on buying and storing too many things I will never use that others will love… But why don’t I let go of these books? I know I will feel better after I clear them out and let go of them. During my illness of recent years, my one project was to declutter my home. I literally touched every item in my home over the course of a year and decided to keep or discard it (and in no time flat I have to do it again – where does all this stuff come from?) It’s a fantastic feeling of freedom that comes after a good declutter and letting go but…

But we hold on. Be it books or bad behaviours, thoughts and feelings. We hold on for many reasons and we give ourselves many excuses but bottom line we don’t change because we’re scared. Scared of freedom; afraid of letting go of a dream library / relationship / goal; fear of what life, we, would be like without this burden of unread books, bitterness or grief; dread of not having that resource book when I need it or having that jealousy to gossip about; terror of saying no to myself and driving past the bookshop or saying no depression when it wants to lurk and linger.

It’s the fear of insufficiency. Like I’d be any less of a person without my piles of books. Like I’d really being miss out if I didn’t have all these books (read or not). Like I couldn’t get these books again if I really wanted to.

It’s the fear of inadequacy. Like I’d be less of a person because I didn’t reach my dreams and failed a time or two. Like letting go of grief would make the person I lost disappear from my heart. Like I’d be condoning the sin if I forgive them.

But if I let go… if I let go, to the tangible books and intangible hurts, I would get space and freedom and healing. No more guilt and shame from books unread. No more stuffing of books in every available space. No more guilt and shame from holding onto thoughts, feelings and sin that hold me back. No more wasted energy on negative emotions.

The money is already spent, the embarrassment or hurtful moment is long gone, holding onto the guilt, shame and unforgiveness will not undo the past or put money back into my pocket.

If I let go, and let go of a whole lot, there would be space. Empty space. Space to fill with new treasures. Maybe new books. Maybe photos and mementos of happy days. Maybe new adventures, joy and peace in my heart. Maybe just empty space to breath in, enjoy and dust occasionally.

Yes I think some empty space on my shelves and in my soul would be a good thing. A very good thing.

So here goes, a heart declutter and a library declutter. Anyone want some unwanted books?

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