It can be so easy. We don’t plan for it to happen. Often our heart’s desire is for the exact opposite, but still it happens. Sometimes unintentional neglect slips into our life unnoticed. It hides just out of the corner of our eye.
Unintentional neglect happens in most of our lives in a myriad of places.
It can happen in caring for our home when we lose track of how long it has been since we really looked at what is growing in our refrigerator. We mean to clean it out periodically, but invariably a soft squishy cucumber (my recent find) or an apple at the back of a drawer doesn’t grab our attention. We are doing so many things that only when we discover the evidence of our neglect do we discover it.
The same issue can crop up with handling our finances. We know the checkbook needs to be balanced and reviewed, but we really don’t want to take time to do it and it gets put off until we have a check bounce or the bank transfers something from a savings account to cover it without asking us first. We may have a budget, but we can so easily forget to keep tabs on how it is doing and where we need to adjust it each month.
We get excited about getting a new or better car and we hear from the salesman all the schedule of maintenance we need to follow to keep it running at its best for as long as possible. Unfortunately, we neglect the odometer as a clue to a need for an oil change and we fail to look at the tread on our tires to notice they needed to be replaced months ago.
And it doesn’t stop there, does it?
Unintentional neglect sneaks into our relational connections as well. Sometimes it sounds as if “out of sight, out of mind” is a truism. We move to a new neighborhood or a new state and those people we felt so close to and saw routinely slip to peripheral vision. We promised to stay in touch. We spent some many special times together, but days slip into weeks and weeks into months and if it continues the relationship fades.
Any move from a job or changing a church does the same thing. If I see you regularly, I am reminded of who you are to me and you stay in focus. It happens when a health issue prevents us from doing what we used to do with someone. Getting together becomes more complicated and we can unintentionally avoid it − dealing with the wheelchair or a walker doesn’t fit our skill set or comfort zone.
Unintentional neglect shows up in whether or not we remember birthdays or significant anniversaries in someone’s life. It’s not about a gift or an extravagant display of some sort, but whether we are remembered that seems to nourish the relationship. It can be a card, a text, a phone call, or a shared cup of coffee.
If you are someone who does pretty well with the things mentioned above, do you also notice and observe the small things, small changes in a person we care about? If so, do you comment or ask or follow-up with the person? Yes, we intend to, but in our own busyness we don’t really see “into” the person or if we do we aren’t sure what to say or ask. How long can we/will we listen and simply be with the person?
Unintentional neglect also can nibble at our relationship with the Lord. We may start a new year with a plan to be disciplined and purposeful about growing and spending time with the Lord beyond going to church, but January may go decently and we fail to notice something interrupted our plan and soon days pass and we have spent no time with Him in any meaningful ways. Our lamps are not filled and the light within us dims.
Unintentional neglect reveals whether our words mean what we convey. It also results in unintentional consequences.
This is why it is so crucial that we be all the more engaged and attentive to the truths that we have heard so that we do not drift off course.
Hebrews 2:1 (TPT)