I can remember when I first read the book “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Using verses from Galatians, Cloud and Townsend discuss the difference between burdens and loads. It defines a burden as something that is excessive boulders or problems in our life that we need to allow people to help with. They define the load as our daily toils and strains – something that we are personally responsible for managing and if we ask others to help with our loads we are being irresponsible.
A question still remains – how are we to support our family and friends or those we are close to when we witness them suffering? What is supporting and what is enabling?
Well, for starters – we need to assess alongside them whether they are needing help with burdens or loads. If they are displacing responsibility of their load onto someone else – it is our responsibility to keep healthy boundaries with them and not rescue them from their own responsibilities. It is enabling when we allow someone to live irresponsibly and avoid natural consequences. In other words, there are times when our helping absolutely hurts.
Support looks like assisting with things he or she is not capable of doing alone, or doing things that help facilitate someone gaining enough control over the situation, their behavior, and life.
There is a fine line that seems almost invisible and impossible at times between enabling and supporting. It is an important concept to have clarity around because we are called to share our burdens so that we don’t live in avoidable pain, as well as called to support others in their burdens as well. It is a blessing to help those in need.
Sarah Dailey, LPC
I help my clients as they walk through life’s valleys. Meeting them in the dark places to acknowledge and support my clients enables them to explore and discover their own worth and value. Just as we are hurt in relationships, I believe that we are also healed in relationship with one another. Together, we will find the tools and insight to process your experience and hopefully you will leave feeling encouraged. In particular, I enjoy marriage and family therapy.