Helper or Enabler?
by Danielle Markley, Co-Owner of Hays Academy of Hair Design
We are all called to be helpers in this world. It doesn’t take much to look into our own families, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries and world to find people in need. But where is the line drawn that goes from helping to enabling? I’m certainly no expert in this field, however certain circumstances in my own life have forced me to look into and try to understand the line between the two.
When we love someone (children, spouse, parents, siblings, coworkers, friends, relatives, etc) we so badly want to do everything in our power to help them in struggles they may encounter. But when does everything in our power become too much that eventually is no longer helping but hurting?
Let me first start by giving you the definition of the two:
Helping: doing something for someone that they can NOT do for themselves
Enabling: doing something for someone that they CAN or SHOULD be doing for themselves (the SHOULD is the hard one)
Society is constantly telling us to make things easier for the people we love. We so often want to give them and provide experiences for them that we as children never had. There is nothing worse than seeing someone you love hurting; therefore we sometimes tend to jump in and fix rather than allow God to work! We want to help those we love avoid pain however sometimes pain is exactly what’s needed to help them. Comfortable people have zero motivation to change their behavior! We’ve been conditioned our whole lives to believe suffering is always bad. Sometimes, more often than not, we have to allow our loved ones to feel the consequences of their own actions.
The next time you are put in a situation that may fall somewhere between helping and enabling ask yourself these questions:
1. If I help this person will it prevent him/her from taking responsibility for their actions?
2. Is this something this person can or should be doing for themselves?
3. Does my help actually harm someone in the long run?
4. Is my real motive for helping this person so I can avoid feeling pain or seeing them in pain?
But what happens when those consequences are life altering?! (death, incarceration, divorce, lost relationships, bankruptcy, loss of job, etc) I honestly do not have the answer to this but from my own experiences I have to trust in the several bible verses I lean on often:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plan I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perserverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
3 things I’ve realized and continue to work on DAILY to be a helper not an enabler:
1. I’ve realized I can’t be fearful of what may happen if I don’t enable because those choices aren’t mine.
2. LOVE them unconditionally!
3. Saying “NO” sometimes is the hardest thing yet the BEST THING.
I would like to leave you with a poem I came across the other day and I pray you find as much comfort and peace in it as I have.