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Posts tagged ‘feeling guilty’

Enabling: Good Intentions Gone Wrong

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by  Karl Benzio/Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

Sadly, we have all seen a loved one making destructive decisions. When someone we love is in the grip of a harmful pattern, we naturally want to help so they will have less pain. But in spite of our best intentions, our efforts sometimes end up being more harmful than helpful.

The official psychobabble term for this action is “enabling,” otherwise known as “good intentions gone wrong.”

In this sense, enabling means, even though you are trying to help the person prevent or stop their dysfunctional behavior, your action provides them with the power or means to continue their dysfunctional activities. In essence, your enabling makes it a lot easier for those who are struggling to persist in their self-destructive behaviors.

A major component of our enabling behaviors is they keep our struggling loved one from feeling the natural, painful consequences of their conduct. These consequences could significantly influence them to stop their dysfunctional decisions before their problems spiral out of control. Today’s Scripture cautions us that if we start to rescue people from the consequences of their choices, we’ll just have to do it again … and again. We are then called a “nag” or a “martyr” when we try to “undo” the enabling or hound them about the behavior.

Here are some common scenarios that enable others:

  • Do you find yourself covering up or “living with” the behavior of a friend, child, or loved one, or bailing them out of trouble?
  • You might make excuses for them or even blame yourself for their problem.
  • Are you reminding them to do certain chores or tasks so that they don’t get the consequences they deserve?
  • Do you find yourself giving them “one more chance” … over and over again instead of giving them the consequences they should receive?
  • Do you care more than they do about the consequences they might get?
  • Do you feel you are being held hostage by their behaviors?

At the foundation of our enabling behavior is our inability to tolerate negative feelings, both in others and ourselves. These feelings are generated when someone struggles and faces potential consequences. We feel very uncomfortable when they feel sad, hurt, or have to endure a consequence, or when we anticipate their sadness or enduring consequences. We may feel at fault, or feel they will be mad at us for giving them a consequence. So we keep nagging, threatening, or pushing them to accomplish their task. Sometimes we even do the task for them. Perhaps it’s their homework or project, driving them to school after missing the bus, or giving them one last chance – for the third or thirteenth time.

Today, be mindful that your responsibility to your troubled loved one is to be supportive and to facilitate their growth, not to inhibit growth by facilitating their struggle. You need to empathize and pray for them, but not fix their problems. They need to learn how to fix it themselves. You aren’t going to be around all the time. You need to encourage them when they have made an error, but not protect them from the necessary consequences. You must allow them to learn from the natural consequences of their actions and not rescue them. All of us need to look at whether we are helping or harming the struggling people in our lives. And then we can begin the process of being a supporter instead of an enabler. Let God, not you, determine the consequences that will open their eyes, change their behavior, and hopefully, transform their hearts.

Dear God, stepping aside from my loved one’s problems is so hard. My urge is to come to the rescue instead of letting her suffer the consequences. I realize now, that when I rescue her, I am actually crippling her from learning skills to rescue herself. Then I have to come to the rescue again and again … and nothing really gets fixed. Teach me to be a supporter instead of an enabler. Help me guide her to You … help me to trust You more. Give me the peace to tolerate my own uneasiness and the discomfort of others. Help me to allow Your consequences and lessons to play out. I pray this in the name of the One who gives me strength in all circumstances, Jesus Christ;  – AMEN!

The Truth
A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again. Proverbs 19:19

And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. Luke 15:16-18

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Adult Children: Setting Boundaries

SOURCE:  Living Free

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV

Although it is vital for you to respect your adult child in the way you communicate and relate, he will need to adjust his behavior to keep the rules of your home. God has called sons and daughters to honor their parents.

You have every right to set boundaries and require them to be kept. Do not allow an adult child to take over your home, living any way that he pleases, and not assuming specific responsibilities and duties. Boundaries might include not smoking in the home and reasonable limitations for having visitors.

Your child is a grown adult and will make his own sexual decisions. However, it is reasonable for you to continue to enforce the moral code that you have taught him as long as he lives in your home. You should never allow persons of the opposite sex or of homosexual persuasion to spend the night in your home with your child (Deuteronomy 5:18, Hebrews 13:4, Romans 1:26-27).

Expectations should include maintaining a respectful attitude toward you, doing household chores, yard and car maintenance, keeping his area of the home clean and payment of room and board.

In most cases, an adult son or daughter living at home will want to help and will be willing to live by the house rules. However, there are also instances when he or she consistently refuses to keep the rules or to accept any responsibility. What then? It would be entirely reasonable and acceptable for you to ask him or her to move out. In this case, the child would likely try to instill guilt, but a godly parent who has tried in every way to make the living arrangement work should not feel guilty. You may feel sorrow, pain and regret, but do not feel guilty.

Father, give me wisdom in establishing boundaries and expectations while my adult child is living at home. I pray that he will honor me and my wishes and that this time together will be a good time of drawing closer to one another and to you. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Godly Parenting: Parenting Skills at Each Stage of Growth by N. Elizabeth Holland, M.D. 

God or Guilt: Which Motivates You?

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by  Karl Benzio/Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Guilt Trip To…Nowhere

Because I teach people to make decisions based on information, not emotions, I cringe when I hear parents, politicians, ministries, or pastors using guilt to “motivate” others.

“If you loved me, you would do your chores.”

“I worked long and hard on this meal, so you better eat it.”

“We’ll have to cancel the event … unless you volunteer in the nursery to help us.”

“Look at these starving kids in Africa and all the food you throw away. Please send money.”

“See the pain Jesus went through for you? You should feel terrible; now accept Him as your Savior.”

Guilt is an incredible motivator, but that’s not the correct role for or use of guilt. I am all for pointing out injustices and needs so people can step into their roles to help these situations or make good decisions. But the issue I am trying to separate through these examples is this: we shouldn’t use guilt to motivate people.

Several subliminal, distorted and false messages can unwantedly occur when people act out of guilt. Here are some examples:

#1. I am responsible for and can control someone else’s feelings through what I do.

#2. The other person won’t feel better unless I act the way he wants.

#3. When you want a friend to do something for you, it is OK to lay a guilt trip on her.

#4. And this is probably the worst message of all, Decisions should be based on self-needs and emotions, not God’s truth, facts, and reasoning.

Unfortunately, these distorted messages subtly seep into our everyday functioning, and dramatically interfere with Godly decision-making.

Many pastors and priests try to whip their congregations into Christian action by delivering guilt-inducing sermons. Whether it’s guilting someone to say the sinner’s prayer, to give money, to volunteer, or to stop a certain behavior, the end does not justify the means. I have personally experienced these guilt-evoking messages. And unfortunately, they undermine the very foundation of grace and love, then developing the Mind of Christ that God wants to instill in a believer’s heart.

Today, take notice if you are feeling guilty about something, or if you are inducing guilt in someone else.

Stop and examine why guilt is present.

Guilt is important if you have done something wrong. So let the guilt warn you that a problem exists. But don’t let it be your decision-maker. Let reason and the Bible direct your heart and actions. Confess, repent, apologize, and ask for forgiveness.

You are responsible for your feelings and happiness; the other person is responsible for his own. Above all else, be mindful that God does not measure and judge you by the amount of good works you do. Rather He looks into your heart. God or guilt, what you use to motivate and guide you is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I do not want to be stressed out about not “doing enough” as good Christian. I know that You want me to relax in the assurance of Your perfect love. Today help me remember that You delight in me more than I can ever imagine, that You see me cloaked in Your light and presence … and that there is no condemnation for those cloaked in You. Help me daily, Lord, to come closer to having the Mind of Christ. Help me make decisions based on Your word, not my feelings. Help me feel convicted and guilty about my wrongs, and then look to You for forgiveness, and to Your word for guidance in doing right. I pray in the name of the One who knew no guilt ‘til He bore all mine, Jesus Christ;  –  AMEN!

The Truth
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest.  Isaiah 61:10

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Romans 8:1-2

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