Webster’s dictionary describes neglect as: “To pay no attention or little attention to, disregard or slight, to be remiss in the care or treatment of, to omit through indifference or carelessness.”
We have all seen devastating stories on the news of children who were left in a home with no appropriate care. It’s heart wrenching to see and we find it hard to wrap our minds around anyone that could treat a child in this way. This is an extreme example of neglect.
As we think about this subject today there are many areas where neglect can cause us heartache, pain and plummet us straight into difficult circumstances. If we neglect our health, it will not be long until we will reap the consequences. If we neglect our budget, our finances will get out of control very quickly. If we neglect spending quality time with God, our hearts grow weary and many times we lose the ability to hear His voice and experience fulfilling intimacy with Him that we were created to enjoy.
I have gone through a season of neglect. It was subtle, slow and hard to recognize. I neglected connecting with me. And I never even knew I stopped connecting with me. I merely started noticing the symptoms. I was lonely, tired, becoming disillusioned and numb. The word numb continued to pop up in my vocabulary. I remember thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” After much prayer and even talking with my doctor, we recognized it was time to decrease and possibly stop an anti depressant I started ten years ago when I started working more intently on early childhood abuse. My body is a lot healthier now that I have been intentional about my nutrition. I believe my food choices are even making a difference in any possible chemical imbalance in my brain.
But something else was going on in my life. I wasn’t taking any time for me. My mind was going a hundred miles a minute in several different directions all the time. God was clearly getting my attention and asking me to get some help. I felt led to start doing some life coaching with Diane Altomare, author of the book “Clarity.” I had read her book and even walked with a friend through her book. It is not a spiritual book per se but focuses on the importance of staying connected to yourself. She also talks about your emotions are messengers to teach you something. The voice you give your emotions are not always true but deserve to be acknowledged, processed and released. Do you ever wonder why so many people are struggling with symptoms that could indicate they have ADD? I’m learning it has a lot to do with our current culture. With the uprise of social media, technology and changes in life style we have very little time to just sit quietly and reflect. Do you ever take deep breaths, pause and contemplate? Meditation is not a bad word. It seems someone is always needing us or trying to contact us. Our minds have been flooded daily with information from politics to looking at what our friends are doing every day on Facebook. Many of us are starving for alone time.
Just as a child will suffer some consequences for the rest of their life if they were neglected as a child; we will begin to suffer consequences from submitting to our culture. It’s a slow burn. If we are connecting to multiple other people and places every single day, there is absolutely no time or energy to connect to ourselves. And friends, if we aren’t connected to ourselves we cannot genuinely connect to God (experientially) and family and friends.
I’ve heard our pastor talk for years about everyone needing Sabbath rest. I heard it but I did not get it. Not until I started reaping the consequences from my daily choices. I’m learning to stop several times a day, close my eyes, take deep breaths and just connect to myself. I need to ask myself, ‘What do I need right now?” “What action step can I make to accomplish what I need right now?” Of course, God is very involved in my life and the way I connect to me. This is not a threat to him! There is no connecting to me without connecting to Him. He’s in me! We are one! He created us to be mindful and present human beings that have the ability to rule and reign in our lives through Christ. But it seems we are being rounded up like sheep headed for the slaughter. We are forgetting who we are and where we are headed. We are distracted by the least little thing and growing more tired by the day. Was I still working in my ministry through these past several months? Yes, and I find it absolutely amazing how God leads and flows through us to minister to other people even when we might be in a season of struggle. This ministry is truly about Him. We often say, “He is the counselor in this room.” We are simply a vessel. An imperfect vessel that is honored to be used in so many lives.
Self care is so very important. Do you take care of you? How can we fully be who God created us to be if we are too sick and tired and distracted to make any type of authentic difference in someone else’s life. Do you see the clever scheme of the enemy? This did not just happen by chance. Busy is the enemy of productive. We may be doing a lot of good things but are we producing fruit? I hope you can learn from my mistakes and take the time daily to connect with you. This will enhance your connection to your Heavenly Father even more.