There’s a difference between being a collector and a pack rat. Whether it’s baseball cards or classic cars, collectors are interested in specific items of interest, value, or vintage. And while they collect things, they’re quick to sell or trade or toss items as needed.
Pack rats, on the other hand, are a different breed. They’re interested in saving everything—forever. Their compulsive hoarding frequently involves stuff most folks understand is worthless—like 6-foot-high stacks of old yellowed newspapers and magazines, or mountains of old clothes that no longer fit bulging from closets or displayed on rows of racks in a back room as if it were Wal-Mart. They have drawers stuffed with expired pizza coupons and junk mail, shelves sagging under the weight of electronic gadgets—even candy wrappers from childhood.
While my garage has its share of clutter, I don’t fit the profile of a serious pack rat. Without going into the psychology behind why some people hoard, I did have a new thought about become more intentional with some of the extra things I have taking up space—specifically books I’ve read and videos I’ve watched. Interestingly, a letter to Focus on the Family from a woman I’ll call Lynn is what sparked this line of thinking. Lynn writes:
It’s been a long time since my divorce (twelve years). When my husband walked out I had no idea what the coming months would bring. Because I was familiar with your ministry, when Dr. Dobson invited hurting people to call, I did. I could barely speak when your counselor came on the phone; I muttered a couple of sentences and hurried to end the call, but before I hung up the man said I’d be hearing from you again.
Within a few days a box arrived on my doorstep full of books and literature . . . for free. That box meant everything to me. I voraciously read everything. A couple of weeks later the same counselor called to make sure I’d received the materials and let me know that you were praying for me. I had other supportive people in my life—a great family, a wonderful church and a Christian counselor.
But most of all, the box of resources from Focus on the Family was the one thing that really pulled me out of my pain and back into reality. Life is much better for me these days. But any time I have extra money I send it to you, because I want you to be able to help other hurting people. Thank you for your ministry. You make such a difference.
I was struck by the life-changing difference that box of resources made in Lynn’s life which, in turn, got me thinking about the used books sitting on my bookshelf—many of which I haven’t looked at in some time. I imagine you may be in the same position. So here’s my idea. What if we were to select one of those books and pass it on to someone who might need it?
Maybe it’s a single-parent, a young couple with their first child, a family experiencing the effects of a prodigal or, like Lynn, someone who is recently divorced. It costs virtually nothing to do and yet that simple effort is another practical way you and I can be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are hurting.
I should also add that if you find yourself in Lynn’s situation, please get in touch with us at Focus on the Family. You’re not alone.