Neil Schori has written a great article about enabling those that we love. We are literally loving them to death, as we make excuses for dysfunctional and very hurtful behaviors. I know that Neil would love for you to pass this on:
I’ve counseled people for over 10 years for just about every kind of problem under the sun. I’ve helped people with broken marriages, eating disorders, cutting, and just about every kind of addiction there is today. There is one problem that makes me more upset than just about any other. And it isn’t even the issue that is presented to me to “fix.” It is the issue BEHIND the issue. It is enabling.
Enabling can be done in a marriage when the unfaithful spouse has excuses made for him by the very wife that he betrayed. Usually it sounds like this: “Bob wants to be faithful to me. He just has an unusually high sex drive. And his dad was the same way. I’m pretty sure it’s genetic. Men aren’t good at being monogamous, anyway.”
Enabling can also be done in a relationship that has been broken by domestic violence. It may sound like this: “Adam is a good man. He only hits me when his boss stresses him out at work. He’s been doing much better recently. He brought me flowers yesterday. He really loves me!”
QUIT loving them to death!
Enabling is often done in the context of substance abuse, too. Many times, the addict’s loved ones are afraid that the addict will never talk with them again if they refuse to buy them alcohol at the store. They are afraid that the addict will become abusive to them if they tell them it is time to get help. They feel bad when they refuse to give the addict money when they are asked because just maybe…this time…they really will use it to buy formula and diapers for the baby.
While all of those scenarios are hypothetical, there’s a good chance that you see your own family in that mix. If you are playing the role of enabler…please pay attention now! You are digging their grave today. You must quit loving them to death.
I know it feels like you’re doing the right thing…but you’re not. What you are doing only feels right, now. Soon, you will be filled with regret and will be asking all of the “what ifs.” There is nothing loving and kind…nothing right and good…about not confronting the wrong behaviors of the ones we love.
Imagine for a moment what you would do if you saw your 3 year old walking over to the stove top that you had just turned on. Would you get in her way? But what if she cried loudly and told you that she “really wanted to play with the stove!!”? Would you allow her to walk by you and melt her skin to the burner? Of course not. Because there would be nothing loving about your choice to let her do what she wanted to do.
If you are struggling with any of these issues today, I want to encourage you to stop enabling behaviors in your loved ones that are leading them straight to their early deaths. Choose to get them help, today. Get help for yourself, while you’re at it! And don’t waiver. Prepare yourself to hear about how bad you are being to them and that if you really loved them that you never would do this to them. Calmly respond like this: “I love you enough to tell you the truth, and I’m ok with you hating me for the rest of your life because of it.”
Then take a deep breath and walk away while you have a good cry. After you’ve released your tears, you will soon begin to sense a deep satisfaction that you truly did the right thing…no matter the personal cost.
Pastor Neil Schori http://neilschori.com/2012/07/24/quit-loving-them-to-death/