Helping is doing something for someone who is not capable of doing for himself. Enabling is doing for someone things that he could and should be doing himself. We have to know the difference or we will find ourselves participating in someone else’s bad behavior. It is easier to enable those we love. We want to do everything in our power to help them. At what point do we realize we are doing more harm than good? I’ve seen it many times, parents and children, friends, relationships and marriages. It is hard to give up on those we love. I believe the key is to love them enough to let go. My mother would say “when push comes to shove (have no idea what that means) you will drown or swim.” It sounds harsh but some call it tough love. My mother, bless her heart, was not an enabler. She was way on the other end of the spectrum. I think it was her way of teaching us independence. And it worked; all her kids are independent to a fault (another story). I tried to have a balance with my son, helping but also teaching him responsibility at the same time. Between his father, his heavenly Father, and myself, we did a good job; he’s an exceptional young man (I am a proud mama, ok, I’m getting off track:).

Reaching out to help a loved one in need is definitely not a bad thing, but there’s a fine line between helping and enabling. I’m not just talking alcohol or drugs here; I’m talking about anything that affects your well-being, for instance, an abusive relationship, whether mentally, financially, or physically. Stop making excuses for them. You have to know when to let go! How do you know you are an enabler? Ask yourself these questions; do you consistently put your own needs and desires aside to help someone else? Do you fear that not doing something will cause a blowup, make the person leave you, or result in violence? Do you lie and make excuses for them? Do you continue to offer help when it is never appreciated or acknowledged? We have to set clear boundaries and remain firm. It’s possible to be supportive without neglecting your own needs. If it is substance abuse, insist they get help! If it’s a relationship get out or get professional help. If it’s your child, you may have to show tough love. But whatever you do, don’t help people dig their own graves and most certainly do not let them dig yours! Helping someone should never be a threat to your own well-being, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself first.

The Bible says we are to confront people we love and let them know that bad behavior is not okay. Refuse to participate. (Matthew 18: 15-20) God does not enable irresponsible behavior. We can set limits on our own exposure to people who are behaving poorly; we can’t change them or make them behave right. Our model is God. He doesn’t set limits on people to make them behave. He sets standards, but He lets people be who they are and then separates Himself from them when they misbehave. Don’t be afraid to say “You can be that way if you choose, but you cannot come into my life.” God limits His exposure to evil, unrepentant people, and so should we. The Bible says to separate ourselves from people who act in destructive ways. We are not being unloving. Separating ourselves protects love, because we are taking a stand against things that destroy love. I said earlier, it’s not easy letting go of someone you love. But guess what, when you have done all you can, there is someone else who can do more than you ever could. Yes, our Father God is in the business of restoration and miracles. Give your love one to Him and rest and know that they are in good hands. Love and Blessings…


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