“Through time in God’s Word and the process of biblical recovery, the Lord gave me peace and freedom and turned my thought process around. Life wasn’t about me anymore, it was about Jesus…But there was one secret I was still holding onto: hoarding.”
“I hadn’t let anyone in my house for 10 years,” said Rita Barnard. “An illness that hit me in 2010 left me isolated and unable to do much for myself. Eventually, that evolved into hoarding – a secret I wanted to keep hidden. I’d hyperventilate thinking about anyone coming to my house because I felt like it was a disgrace.
“My life had been chaotic since childhood. My parents’ alcohol abuse, instability, and fighting were so bad I was running the streets as a young teen, smoking and drinking and engaging in inappropriate relationships along the way. I was date raped at 14 by an 18-year-old boy. The whole incident left me feeling manipulated, coerced, and full of shame, and from that point forward I was determined to take control of whatever I could.
“To gain some structure, I joined the Navy in 1972. I needed the rules that the Navy brought into my life. I remember one of my bosses who seemed to have a peace and joy about him. I told him that I wanted the peace the he had, and he shared the gospel with me and sent me home with a pamphlet on the four spiritual laws. When I read that the Lord loved me even when I was a sinner, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I trusted Christ, and He slowly took control of various aspects of my life. It was not an overnight process, but the Lord was there for me.
“Several years later I got married, and we had a son who was born prematurely and suffered with many health problems. I was in the Navy, working full time with a new baby and a husband at home. I was living sober, but my husband was not, and things did not go well. When that marriage ended in divorce, I was transferred to Texas with the Navy.
“After leaving the Navy, I started teaching but became ill and had to retire from teaching as well. I used a walker to get around and was at home in bed for five years. It was hard to move around, so I basically didn’t. Eventually, the environment in my home deteriorated and the hoarding began.
“A friend invited me to Watermark’s Plano Campus, and though I could barely walk, I agreed. When I went to Watermark for the first time, I knew it was the place God wanted me to be. Soon I committed to getting out of bed and going to Watermark for several hours a week for weekend services and for re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry.
“Through re:generation, I realized that I had trusted Christ with my salvation but not with my struggles and everyday life. I started trusting Christ with more of my life and decided, through God’s power, to do whatever the Lord asked of me. That’s when He really transformed my heart. I still had physical limitations, but I was able to go to Women’s Bible Study and other classes during the week and worship on Sundays. He brought accountability and community into my life, and God gave me a place to be authentic with others. God made changes gradually, but over time, the Lord changed my whole outlook.
“Through community with others, I was able to open up not only about my struggles, but also about being date raped when I was young. It was such a freeing thing to tell someone about it. Through time in God’s Word and the process of biblical recovery, the Lord gave me peace and freedom and turned my thought process around. Life wasn’t about me anymore, it was about Jesus. The Lord gave me comfort and turned darkness into light as He exposed more of my struggles and secrets. But there was one secret I was still holding onto: hoarding.
“When my friends at Women’s Bible Study heard that I had not had anyone inside my home in 10 years, they wanted to help. I was so anxious, but I read many reassuring passages from God’s Word, and decided to open the doors. These ladies helped me decide what to throw away and what to keep. In spite of the condition of my home, the women treated me with such love and respect. Today my home feels like a happy, peaceful place to be. Their service was such a gift.
“Life on this side of following Christ is indescribable – there is joy and purpose in life! Before I retired, my dream was to be a professional volunteer. Because of my disabilities, I lost all hope of doing that. Now, as I serve in re:generation, Women’s Bible Study, Equipped Disciple, and K-1 RACE, I find that, despite my limitations, my dream and God’s purpose for my life have aligned and have been realized through Christ.
“The reason that the structure of the Navy was good for me is the same reason why God’s Word is good for me and then some. God’s Word is rules for living plus love! Everything Scripture says is for my best interest because Christ loves me. After walking with Him, I can see that the Lord has moved many mountains for my good. I am in awe of His wisdom, power, and love!”