At least it’s worse than mine

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Ever seen the show Hoarding: Buried Alive?

If you want to feel much better about the socks you have on your floor and your unmade bed, go ahead and watch this show.  As my wife and I watched it, I honestly was blown away at the trash that has piled up in these people’s homes.  It’s so visible to everybody else that there’s a problem here.  But check out this quote from one of the people highlighted on the show:

I just found out I’m a hoarder.

My response to the TV (come on…I’m not the only one that talks to the TV, am I?) at that point:


The camera pans out to her living room, almost filled to the ceiling with stuff, with a pathway just barely wide enough to walk through to get from the front door to the kitchen.  The kitchen table is so full that it can’t be eaten on (and hasn’t been for 6 years).  In order to get into the bedroom, she has to move bags of more stuff and a cabinet.  When the bedroom door opens, more stuff is piled nearly to the ceiling.  Her husband hasn’t lived at home (because of the hoarding) for years, and her children are suffering as well, with one son saying lamenting the fact that he can’t ever have any friends over to hang out.

She’s just now realizing she’s got a problem?!?

Can I get a collective, “Wow.  That’s sad.  That’s so messed up.”  Go ahead…everybody say it together…

Isn’t it so easy to notice someone else’s sin?  It sticks out like a sore thumb (their thumb, not ours…if it were our sore thumb, we’d probably notice it).  And it’s almost comical that they don’t see it themselves, right?

The flip side of that coin must be true as well…you have faults that are obvious to those around you, yet you go on not noticing them.  Others look on and wonder, “How does he not notice?” … “Does she not even care?”

Why do we like to find people that have sins that are “worse” than ours?  Because it helps us feel better about ourselves, easing our consciences.  And it keeps our own struggles at bay.  If there’s somebody out there worse than me, I don’t have to worry, because me and God…we must be good.  Because God grades on the curve, right?

Which explains why in our churches, small groups, family gatherings, and circles of friends, it’s easier to say, “You’re not allowed” than to say, “I’ll walk this journey with you.”

We need others to help us see ourselves for who we really are…and are willing to say, “You’ve got mustard on your face.”  Because our hearts are deceitful…even to ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9).  We can walk through life thinking we’re pretty awesome…and other people are pretty rotten.  And shows like Hoarding:Buried Alive only amplify that tendency.  But if we have people in our lives that love us, encourage us, and are willing to walk through the junk with us…life’s much easier.

My sin’s not worse than yours.  Yours isn’t worse than mine.  We’re on this journey of the Christian life together.

And we’re better together than on our own.


Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Larry Hehn

    Amen! I spoke this past weekend to a group of young adults about “many parts, one body.” We do need each other, especially to speak with love into areas that need correction. I’m glad that others have cared enough to do that for me!

    • Ben Reed

      I agree with you completely, Larry…it’s tough, but it’s such a loving act…and in my life, much needed.

  • Noel Bagwell

    If I walk through a room and this show is on, I come very close to having a panic attack. I can’t deal with hoarders… so many problems on so many levels. Just burn the house down, clear the lot with a bulldozer and start from scratch.

    • Ben Reed

      I can only take so much of that show…it stresses me out