September 5, 2016
I was driving around town catching up on some errands when I saw a sign at the SPCA (Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals) building: “Neglect is Abuse.” It struck me just how profound and foundational those words were. Of course, the focus was on how we treat animals. But what about how we treat people?
Neglect is very powerful. In fact, neglect can actually kill. A clinical syndrome called “Failure to Thrive” occurs when parents fail to provide psychological or emotional connection to their infant/toddler. Even though all the physical and nutritional needs are met, the child wastes away and can even eventually die in several years if relational attention is withheld. Thankfully, this is a now a rare phenomenon in the United States. Sadly, in third-world countries and orphanages, it is quite prevalent.
Neglect isn’t a word we use often to describe our society or ourselves in this day and age. In fact, the opposite is usually what we hear: the “ME” generation, self-indulgent, spoiled, needing immediate gratification, giving everybody a trophy for playing, living in a welfare or handout state and going out of our way to give everybody attention. Think about it, how aware are we of our true inner needs and struggles and the God-placed longings in our hearts? How about you? Are you paying attention and doing something constructive to address your own internal needs, struggles, and longings?
If we answer honestly, 98% of us will say “no.” Few attempt this honest self-assessment. And if we do reflect and assess, do we then go about addressing that need in the healthiest, most fulfilling, life-giving and God-honoring way? Failing to self-assess, and thoroughly address, what you find is my definition of self-neglect.
Most of our time and energy is fixated on our superficial needs. Satan has us sidetracked. We NEGLECT our deepest internal and foundational needs. When we focus on superficial needs, we look to superficial answers. It’s like taking cough syrup for a chronic cough instead of treating the lung cancer that is the substantial problem causing the cough.
Neglect is prevalent in our society. We neglect ourselves, those we love and those in need. But most importantly, we neglect our Lord. You see, God is the answer for the struggles that derail us: obstacles that hold us back, wounds that aren’t healed, addictions and patterns we struggle to break, emotions that rule us. God is also the vessel for hope, peace and joy. By neglecting God, we also neglect others and ourselves.
Today, stop and think about areas in your life you are neglecting, pushing under the carpet, avoiding and suppressing—hoping that nobody notices. Think about struggles you have identified but have had trouble correcting. Now trade the word abuse for neglect. In the dictionary, neglect is a synonym for abuse. Perhaps this simple word switch will help us to neglect less and start taking care of ourselves in the true sense as God calls us to do. Put on the armor of God and specifically attack those strongholds today. Whether you neglect yourself and God or you perform some honest self-assessment and take action – it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father in heaven, I come to you with a guilty heart. I have been guilty of neglecting You. Forgive me, Father. I have also been guilty of neglecting those I love and for whom I am responsible. Replacing the word abuse for neglect makes it all seem so much worse. I ask Your forgiveness for the abuse of my body. Help me to be aware every day of those who need my care and attention. Also, help those whom I have abused to forgive me. I pray, Lord, that as You work through me, I will end my neglect of others. With a sad heart, I also realize now that others have neglected me. So help me forgive them, Lord, as You forgive me. Help them be aware that neglect is abuse. I pray in the name of the One who was abused for my ultimate nurturing, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
The Truth “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message.” 1 Timothy 4:14
“Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it.” Psalm 55:10
“Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:30-31
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” John 6:35