Merlene

I tripped over a few more episodes of “Hoarders.” Yes, dramatized, but nonetheless mesmerizing. In the story of “Merlene,” a lonely, elderly woman who at one time was a supermodel, we see her squeezing through her hoard—much of which was obtained while dumpster diving.

… … … This didn’t happen overnight.

She spoke of something I’d heard before—the biblical concept of a cistern: our preoccupations filling us up, but leaving us feeling empty, needing to fill up again. Although I’m not a hoarder, Merlene was talking to me. While (by God’s grace) I don’t allow an accumulation of trash in my home, my personal “hoard” takes other forms. I can still hear Merlene’s haunting words—as I consider my own fears, resentments, and overindulgence.

But then I recall a beloved tune: I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small; Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.”

… … … This, on the other hand, DID happen overnight.

Merlene and I have a variety of commonality; but at each turn, I see dichotomy. (At least it appeared as such as of the show’s airing.)

  • Merlene and I both desperately needed an intervention—mine was by God.
  • We both had a sudden and prolific “house cleaning”—mine made me white as snow.
  • We both have unresolved issues requiring counsel—mine comes from God’s Word.
  • We both sometimes find “trash” has wormed its way back in—mine stops at the periphery.

If you, Reader, find yourself pitying Merlene (or me), please check your back porch. Not everyone hoards six-foot piles of garbage; and I suppose not everyone has a short list of fears—but each of us is a pitiable perpetrator that must periodically purge the pig sty. To quote Firesign Theater, “We’re all Bozos on this bus.”

The desperation, debilitation, and doubt in Merlene’s voice impacted me. I did feel sorry for her, but somehow I came away strengthened in God and encouraged—with the wherewithal to carry on. The Extreme Cleaner controls the hoard, by handing me the broom; but not of self-accomplishment. His broom is called Trust:

“Child of weakness, watch and pray.”

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