Living life with unresolved pain, growing bitterness, or constant shame is like living in a cluttered house. Pain from our past is like a box of junk shoved under the bed. Quickly, one box can turn into a pile of them and our mess takes over.

After reading every book written on how to organize your home (out of desperation), it was not hard to figure out that I am married to a “piler” as opposed to a “filer”. Pilers create piles and filers keep things filed. Maybe not in literal file folders but in a designated spot or container.

Pilers are usually keepers as well,  hanging onto things “in case”.  It’s not time to call in the crew from “Hoarders” yet, but let me share with you how easily piles can create problems.

We moved the contents of our garage into a building outside to create more living space in our home about four years ago. Everything from bikes, camping gear, tools, and beach chairs went into our huge new building. At the time, my husband did not unpack many of the boxes.

Over the last four years he also added some wood working tools and a supply of free wood that he “might need one day”. Slowly, the huge building seemed to shrink as the piles took over, barely leaving a walkway. As you can imagine, it became almost impossible to find needed items. Not only that, but a spilled bag of shelled corn turned our building into a home for a family of rats!

Clutter can become a big issue when we don’t deal with it, and I see such a parallel to our emotional health.

Our unpacked boxes of emotional issues, the pain that we never deal with stays with us until we do the hard work of opening them up. Our efforts of trying to push past pain, keep busy, or forget are in vain. Our soul can become so cluttered that we lose our true identity underneath the piles. The enemy and his cohorts crawl in like uninvited vermin, gnawing on our confidence and peace until they’re in shreds.

I watched my sweet husband stand in the middle of that building looking completely overwhelmed by the accumulated stuff, the piles that needed unpacking and sorting. He even said to me, “I think I find comfort in stuff.” I understood exactly what he meant. Letting go of things can be difficult, even scary. I immediately revisited a time a few years back when I unpacked some emotional boxes.

I was living with piles, trying to navigate life on a narrow path running through them. My path was getting smaller, and I felt trapped. I finally gave up and asked for help. Boxes of pain and rejection, shame and judgement were emptied and thrown out one by one. Each time my counselor asked me to open a box, I was overwhelmed. The work was hard, but we dealt with every pile of junk we could find together. Then came freedom and joy.


When the piles are gone and our building is opened up for a desired work space for my husband, I can’t wait to hear him  breathe a sigh of relief. I imagine peace washing over him and an excitement in his eyes as he sees new possibilities. He won’t miss the piles.

Cleaning out clutter, throwing out junk, and finding the right spot for the things we truly value takes work. We can hide our junk for a while, but eventually we run out of space. We begin tripping over our piles, losing things that are important, forgetting what we have under all the mess. I love decluttering. Just the word puts a little sparkle in my eye.

My husband is uncovering space, finding what he had lost, and letting go of junk. It’s time.

We all walk through this life experiencing pain. It’s inevitable. We can try to push it aside, hide it, ignore it, or blame someone for it, but until we actually deal with it, our soul stays cluttered.

Yet, freedom awaits us. A new space of possibilities awaits us. It’s on the other side of hard work, but we are not alone as we sort it all out.

If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. A great counselor can make all the difference. It’s time.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be encumbered once more by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36



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