Yesterday I had 7 root canals.
Oh, wait--no. It just felt like I had 7 root canals. Because apparently a deep tooth cleaning following a 10-year hiatus from the dentist also feels as though you're delivering a baby, sans epidural, out of each one of your tooth sockets.
On the way home I stopped by Chick-fil-A to order the one thing I could eat--a "Sawberry Mipshape" (That's the only way I could say it after the gallon of Novocaine they injected into me). As I drove home, attempting to drink my "mipshape" through my half-numb lips, I couldn't help considering this one truth:
NEGLECT ACCUMULATES. And eventually having to deal with the accumulation is really painful.
There was no reason for me to have to go through the horrendous procedure I endured yesterday. Normal people who aren't ten-steps-beyond-terrified of the dentist usually go in every six months and get their teeth polished, collect their free toothbrush and floss, and are on their way.
Oh, but not me. I have severe dental phobia and decided to let things go for a solid decade. I went with the "Have someone scrape the ever-loving heck out of your teeth" plan. I took the "You'll need nine (yes, NINE!) shots of novocaine just to be able to survive this" route.
Why??? It didn't have to be this way.
But neglect accumulates.
Neglect your marriage for a day or a week? Probably no biggie. But neglect your marriage for any sort of a stretch of time, and you'll find yourself having terrible, tearful conversations and working tirelessly to rebuild trust and put the pieces back together.
Neglect your children for weeks and months, and you'll wonder a decade from now why they have no interest in really opening up to you.
Neglecting housework. Neglecting family relationships. Neglecting work responsibilities. Neglecting our health. Over time the neglect accumulates and it all eventually catches up, and the fall-out isn't easy to deal with.
Then there's neglecting your relationship with God. Neglecting His Word. You probably won't notice any trouble with this at first, but neglecting His will over time is to practically invite the painful consequences you'll face.
The price to be paid for neglect is painfully high. I will say it again--The price to be paid for neglect is painfully high!
What area of your life needs your attention--right now? Consider that one area. Pray over the part you've been neglecting. Maybe it will be painful to recover what has fallen through the cracks, to make that phone call, to spend that time that needs to be spent, to get up for that workout, or to make that appointment.
"You can't cram for a great marriage. You can't cram for a relationship with your kids," Andy Stanley said. It's true. There are certain things that simply have to be maintained a little bit over time. If I had spent every moment of the day leading up to my appointment incessantly brushing and flossing to try to compensate for not going to the dentist for the last 10 years, it wouldn't have helped. I had let things go for far too long.
Why do we live as though we can neglect the critical areas of our lives--and then cram to make it all up?
Father, You want us to be diligent and attentive, not lazy and neglectful, with what You've entrusted to us. And it's for a reason: The fallout is too great, and the price is too high. And You want to keep us from having to deal with the consequences that come with neglect! Let Your Holy Spirit speak to us, right now, about the areas we're neglecting. Show us, day in and day out, what it looks like to deal with what we've neglected, and to begin being busy about the things that really matter. Amen.