February 27, 2005

Get out of God's way! Stop enabling the ones you love!

Do you have someone in your life who seems to always teeter on the edge of trouble? Someone you love very much, yet you seem to be at a loss as far as "helping them" is concerned?

Are they continuously caught in a trap of their own making? Are you finding yourself following behind them, attempting to clean up their messes and wondering how their mess became your own?

If you can relate to the above, then this article may save you future pain and heartache.

This writing applies to anyone who's loved one is trapped by an out of control lifestyle.

Enabling ends up hurting those we enable much more than it does us. We are thinking we're helping those we love when what we're really becoming to them is a crutch. A sorry stand in for a life of making responsible decisions and taking positive actions. They become addicted to our help. In the end they cannot function without us propping them up. If we attempt at any time to withdraw our enabling behaviors, they will squall like babies and then we truly find we have a mess on our hands.

As time goes by I meet more and more people who have little or no control over the most important areas of their lives. This chaos that many live under seems to know no boundaries. At one point in my life, I was a chronic enabler of many.. I was one of those people that others looked to in order to depend on. But you see, I lost "myself" due to my constant catering to and problem solving all in the name of "others" that was going on. Many times in my past, before God straightened me out, I would complain about my life and many times was heard to say "I don't have a life".

Have any of you made a statement like that?

Looking back on those times, it was true. I did not have a life. But one thing I always failed to see was whose fault it was that I didn't. It was my own, that's what I had to realize, and in time I did.

By the time I had come to this realization, I would be totally burned out from the hours spent worrying or doing for others. Precious time that I could not get back. But do not think that those I was doing for lost a night of sleep over me. They would, in the end and much to my distress, still be living the destructive and dangerous lives they had for many years. My actions and help did not change them, did not help them, if anything it had made them worse.

I would pray for people who were trapped by the nets of their own making and nothing - not even prayer seemed to help them. I struggled to look at myself and learn if there was something I was leaving out, something I'd neglected doing for or saying to them.

It was then that I heard as plainly as I can explain to you now..

"What aren't you doing for them"? The answer? NOTHING

I had been available to them in every way imaginable. If he or she needed money, I was their bank. If they needed a baby sitter while they went out to paint the town red and maybe even get into a little mischief, I was their nanny. If I had important plans, they were all gone at the drop of a hat if I was called on to "help out" those who could never manage to help themselves. There was no limit to my helping.

Gradually I got worn down and discouraged. I could not say NO to them when they called on me for my help. Like so many others who are enablers, I was blinded by my love and concern for them. I had never once stopped for a second to realize that by my helping, I was prolonging that inevitable area of their lives that they had to get fixed.

The part where they must take responsibility for their own actions and their own life.

I couldn't see that no matter what I was able to do for them, that in the end, they would have to face responsibility and make choices themselves without me near them, without me giving them advice, handouts,etc.

One very important will that God has for all of our lives is that of being a responsible and mature adult. And I had been blocking God's will for the ones I was constantly enabling. This leads me to relate a very painful fact of life-----it's your life, God gave you only one, and it's far too short for us to scramble around "enabling" those who have chosen to lead a destructive lifestyle. Life is too short on this earth for you to be concentrating every fiber of energy you have on those who haven't hit rock bottom yet.

What is rock bottom? It is the place that all of us will arrive at if we continue to buck against what is Godly and Holy.

It is being in the "gutter" without anyone to call out to and to help us except God himself. The prodigal son went there to this place I speak of and was the better for having arrived there. I have been there. If one continues in sin, they will understand what Rock Bottom is. But only if they are absent of the enabler in their life.

We often feel "sorry"" for those we are enabling. I was one of these. I know what I am talking about. I thought on this : If I was leading a destructive life - a life in which I shirked responsibilities and did nothing to help myself but relied on everyone else to take care of me, would I expect to gain the sympathies of others? NO Would I expect it ? NEVER

Get out of God's way

It was during an especially painful run in with a friend who had gotten himself in financial trouble that I finally realized the truth. The more we bail people out of their problems and tragic situations, the longer it takes for them to change.

If you had the choice between a get out of jail free card or a two year jail term, which one would you choose?

The truth is that if you want to play, *lead a destructive and dangerous lifestyle* then you have to pay. Consequences are harsh, yet how many are not willing to pay the consequences for their selfish and destructive actions?

People who are still leading destructively selfish lifestyles are only continuing in them because they are not allowed to hit rock bottom. They have not had to face the consequences of their actions. They have not had to face to consequences of the sad life they have led. They are not allowed to get down in the muck and mire and face what they and their life has become due to their own wrong and selfish choices. Others are never forced to stop due to their alternative options plan (the enabler in their life). In essence, they are still being given the option of that get out of jail free card by someone - And who offers it? Their "enabler" does every time they choose to bail them out of their latest "mess".


It is simply because we do love them that we must choose to stop enabling them, We must allow them to grow up and be responsible for their own lives and actions.

Chronic enabling only lengthens the time that the destructive person stays in his current messy situation.

If and when you decide to stop aiding in their prolonged agony by enabling them, your loved one will swear that you never loved them. They will say you are the most selfish person on earth. A little ironic isn't it? You and I, the very ones who have been unselfish and catering to their every whim and THEY now characterize US as selfish. Don't be astonished at this. All they've been used to is how you've catered to their desires and needs. They have known nothing else from you. They have known no other side of you other than this one they've been used to for so long. It is just like a little child who wants something, you hold it back from him and he throws a tantrum.

Managing their own lives

What you can't see right now is what will become of them after they've stepped up to the task of managing their own life. It's always tough to think of ourselves while a loved one is going through pain, We feel like we are not worthy to say NO to anyone except ourselves. I know this was true for me. I felt I was expendable when it came down to doing for me or for others.

It is essential that you stop enabling those who refuse to take responsibility for their own lives, God cannot do for them while you have your hands in matters that can only be fixed through him.. Along with the troubled person's quality choices.

The father in the prodigal son did not go out looking for his Son. He stayed home, and when the son came to himself he returned and he returned better than he was before he left his father. He had to go through pain and loss before he came to himself.

Our children grow up, become responsible and mature adults and leave us to begin their own lives, this is often a sad time but it is also a blessing and a fact of life. In the same way, those we love MUST grow up, become mature adults, responsible for their choices and actions and accept the circumstances of both.

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