When someone we love is in the grip of a harmful substance or behavior, we naturally want to help. In spite of our best intentions, our efforts are sometimes harmful rather than helpful. Enabling is good intentions gone wrong.
Enabling allows people to continue in their self-destructive behaviors without feeling the painful consequences that might convince them to stop before the problem spirals out of control. Today’s Scripture cautions us that if we rescue a person from the consequences of his or her choices, we’ll just have to do it again … and again.
This is where nagging is often born. With our kids, we don’t want them to miss the bus, so we are nagging them through the morning to keep moving, get to the next task from bed to out the door. We believe we are protecting them from the consequences of missing the bus, but we are actually interfering with their growth and development of autonomy and personal responsibility. That’s is what natural consequences build.
Do you find yourself covering up the behavior of a friend or loved one, or bailing them out of trouble? You might make excuses for them or even blame yourself for their problem. And it’s very easy to give them “one more chance”…over and over again. These are common examples of enabling.
A big component is our ability to tolerate those negative feelings in others or ourselves that are generated when someone is struggling and faces potential consequences.
Today, be mindful that your responsibility to your troubled loved ones is to be supportive and facilitate their growth, not to inhibit it. You need to empathize and pray for, but not fix…to encourage, but not protect(within reason). We must allow them to learn from the consequences of their actions and not rescue them. All of us need to look at whether we are helping…or harming…the struggling people in our lives. And then we can begin the process of being a supporter instead of an enabler. Let God determine the consequences, not you. Click here to share with the Stepping Stones community your perspective on “good intentions gone wrong.”
Dear God, it’s so hard not try to fix my loved one’s problems. But when I come to the rescue instead of letting him suffer the consequences of his actions, I do find that I have to come to the rescue again and again. Nothing really gets fixed. Teach me to be a supporter instead of an enabler. Help me guide them to You…help me to trust You more. Give me the peace to tolerate my uneasiness and their discomfort to allow the consequences and lesson You have for them play out. I pray this for the one who gives me strength in all circumstances, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.
And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.