Enablers are people that may appear to be extremely strong, independent and self-sufficient, but are in reality often very needy, insecure and in need of acceptance. This need for security and approval results in a strong sense of responsibility for others, dependence on people, people pleasing and performance. It also results in compromising morals, values, and beliefs as well as condoning sin. Enabling someone’s sin is the same as indirectly taking part in that sin, and 1 Timothy 5:22 says, “Do not participate in the sins of others.”
Below are some characteristics of people who are enablers.
(Think of the person that you are closely involved with, a spouse, child, parents, relative, friend, co-worker, boss, etc. and see if you identify with any of these statements).
- I feel responsible for the needs, feelings, and behaviors of this person.
- I try to fix their problems, even when it affects my emotional well-being.
- I know their needs and feelings but don’t know my own.
- I do things for this person they should and are capable of doing for themselves.
- I get angry when my help is not wanted, needed, or appreciated.
- I tend to come across rigid and judgmental.
- I am harsher on myself than others.
- I tend to deny my own feelings and needs
- I feel guilty when I stand up for myself.
- I find it hard to say “No.”
- I feel good when I give but find it hard to receive from others.
- I try hard to be perfect to avoid anger or criticism.
- I look for my value and worth in the approval of others.
- I find that I am attracted to needy people & they are attracted to me.
- I am defensive about my relationship with this person.
- I feel victimized and taken advantage of by this person.
- I feel stuck in this relationship with this person.
- I can’t live without this person.
If you can relate to many of these statements, it is most likely that you are engaged in a relationship where you are enabling the unhealthy behavior (sin) of another person. Interestingly enough, it may surprise you to know that you share many of same characteristics of the personality type of the people you tend to enable. More surprising to you may be finding out that enablers and those being enabled enter into the relationship with one thing in common – NEED! Both desperately need each other. Each is seeking to get a need met that each is incapable of meeting because there is only ONE who can meet our needs. Both have learned to function in an environment that is imbalanced where one is doing all the taking, and the other is doing all the giving. It has become their normal and breaking the dynamic can be extremely difficult.
But you can be free! Commit today to get help and get to the root of why you engage in relationships where you condone and encourage negative behavior by enabling. There is nothing that our God cannot do with a willing and surrendered heart.
Fear, betrayal, rejection, anger, unforgiveness, addictions, unhealthy relationships and relationship conflict, are just some of the real life struggles facing God’s children today.
Our churches are filled with believers who love Jesus, but are often overwhelmed and weighed down; bound up and defeated by life’s issues. So many are unable to live a truly abundant life in Christ and run the Christian race with endurance. These beloved brethren have this in common—they are painfully unaware that the untended roots from the past are creating issues in the present, and are preventing them from thriving in the fullness of God.
God’s children are in desperate need of practical, step by step, biblical solutions. Hurting Hearts Restored offers that hand of help. Written according to God’s powerful Word and inspired by the promptings of The Holy Spirit, this book is intended to lead you into God’s unending love and grace—to His perfect plan for you—life more abundantly! Filled with easily understood explanations, examples, journal questions, and real-life stories, Hurting Hearts Restored will walk you through the healing process — a journey with Jesus into the depth of your heart where change happens, page-by-page, with all the resources you need to get to the roots that bind.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
If you have been a victim of any form of abuse, neglect, abandonment that is still affecting your life and crippling your ability to walk in the fullness of Christ, then you should consider seeking out help through Christ-centered professional or pastoral counseling to be mandatory as soon as possible.
In seeking help, seek out those persons who are specifically trained to help you deal with your particular issue and fully rely on the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit through the inerrancy of God’s Word to help you replace the faulty message left behind by acts of abuse or neglect with God’s truth. It is the truth that sets us free. Only the authority of God’s living word has the power to heal, change and restore hearts and lives.
Other resources are available to you like support groups designed to help those who have been victimized in various ways. What you must remember is the sinfulness of other persons visited upon you is in no way an act of God. In no way were the acts of sinful abuse, neglect, and abandonment put upon you the will of God. Remember God loves you beyond measure. God wants you protected and sheltered from any form of abuse, neglect, hurt, or abandonment.
Beyond professional help and counseling, a substantial part of your life will need to be devoted to surrendering your pain and heartache to Christ. Christ is the son of a loving God. Christ and His Father in heaven possess a wrath to be visited upon those who take advantage of and hurt others. Your place is not to even the score or get revenge with others.
To find healing from the abuse, neglect, or abandonment you suffered, the focus of your life should be surrendering up your hurt and pain into Christ’s nail-scarred hands.
Every person has a learned pattern of behavior when dealing with conflict. Some lash out; others become critical, defensive and sarcastic, while some retreat like a turtle and avoid conflict altogether. None of these patterns work towards solution and even create more conflict adding layers of bitterness and resentments causing hearts to get hardened and broken intimacy in relationships.
What’s God’s solution when conflict in relationships arises? GRACE! You see people model what was modeled to them. If they attack, they were attacked. If they are critical, they were criticized. If they avoid, stuffing and avoidance was the name of the game growing up. These patterns are brought into relationships and affect those we love. It’s important not to personalize the wrongful reactions of other people. It has more to do with their faulty filters and less to do with you. Grace understands this. It can build a bridge to healthy relationships.
God’s word says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Instead of getting angry and replying in kind commit to sifting every conflict through a grace sifter. Nothing gets through unless it contains grace. Just like a flour sifter catches big lumps of flour that will ruin a recipe – nothing critical is allowed to sift through that will ruin our relationships. There is nothing wrong with the flour it’s just the wrong consistency. Likewise, conflict issues are legitimate and must be addressed and dealt with. But it’s our negative reaction to conflict that needs sifting through the filter of grace.
The next part of the recipe calls for seasoning with salt. Salt is a preservative. If your conversation is full of grace – allowing for faults and imperfections of others – it preserves relationships and brings peace to our lives. This is the perfect recipe for healthy God-centered relationships. Let’s get to cooking with grace.
“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
There is a direct correlation between relationship conflict and negative emotions. We were designed for love and intimacy. Sadly, many of us were not given healthy forms of love. So we enter relationships with baggage full of skewed love systems and unmet needs expecting the other person to meet our emotional needs. However, since unhealthy people tend to attract unhealthy individuals into their lives who enter the relationship with their own emotional baggage – unmet needs and skewed forms of love expecting us to love them as they think they should be loved – it’s a great recipe for emotional pain and conflict. People enter relationships with all kinds of learned negative patterns of behavior to deal with relationship conflict.
The truth is we will never be able to enjoy healthy mutually satisfying relationships until we deal with the issues of our own heart. When we can identify the cause of our emotional pain, we can then process the effects they have on our life, and we can stop blaming others, take ownership of our negative feelings and behaviors and stop allowing others to control our emotions.
People are not responsible for the way they make us feel. Understanding and accepting this enables us to let others off the hook and give them permission to take ownership of their feelings and stop blaming us for how they feel. Jesus heals and restores one heart at a time.
Repeated apologies, promises never to do it again, remorse, tears, pleading for another chance are things repeat abusers say to those they hurt. Whether they are causing harm through emotional or physical abuse, committing adultery, being deceptive, lying, cheating, or are engaged in other destructive behaviors such as addiction, they may genuinely feel bad when exposed and confronted and offer appeasement for the moment, but nothing changes.
The behavior continues causing pain and destruction at all levels in families and relationships. That’s because God’s word says there is a huge difference between feeling sorry for what we do and repentance, regretting the wrongs we have committed and committing to change behaviors that bind and hurt others.
Worldly sorrow does not lead to the brokenness and humility needed to get the human heart to a place of genuine Godly sorrow and repentance before a Holy God that produces a desire to change. Worldly sorrow causes the heart to hardened and brings forth death in all areas of our lives, while Godly softens the heart and brings forth life.
If we continue to allow others to appease us with worldly sorrow, then we must understand that things will remain the same. This is called enabling.
We can’t change another person’s heart but God can. Release them to God, guard your heart, and pray the Lord will orchestrate whatever needs to take place to produce Godly sorrow in someone who is hurting themselves and others. That’s where true change begins.