Since bad hair people enable barbers and beauticians to make a living, my eyeglasses enable me to see more clearly, and willing readers enable writers like me to ply their craft, why has the concept of enabling gotten such a bad rap in the past few years? Enablers are often tossed into the same unsavory group as users, posers and players. Is this fair?
The definition of the transitive verb “enable” in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary includes the idea of providing another with the means or opportunity to accomplish a task or achieve a goal. That sounds to me like a good thing.
My sister Joni is a fantastic enabler, and I love her for it. She (a great driver) is the only person I know who was willing to sit patiently in the passenger seat of my car while I (a navigationally-challenged driver) practiced getting my car in and out of its tight space in the garage. Her patient guidance enabled me to master this skill.
Joni knew how to talk me through the process. She avoided clumsy, ill-defined sentences like, “You have approximately six more feet of backing space,” but rather put things in terms I could understand. “Okay, once the front of your car passes the boxwood bush, you can still back about the length of your kitchen island without running over the clematis trellis.” What a great enabler!
I would never have graduated from college had not my parents, with their financial generosity, enabled me to do so. My granddaughter’s persistent demands of “Draw Elmo, Grandma!” enabled me eventually to be able to draw a fairly good representation of the furry, red star of Elmo’s World.
My friend Jan enabled me to survive some dark days of depression by offering to sit with me in the musty, spidery crawlspace of my house if that was where my depression took me. Jan’s offer included a promise to bring chocolate. Some people REALLY know how to enable!
I am, of course, fully aware of the negative connotations of the term “enabling.” I am not advocating that we “provide the means for” another person to continue in an unhealthy habit or lifestyle. Enabling, however, is not a bad thing when it helps someone achieve a worthwhile goal.
I am grateful to the loving enablers in my life. Most of all, I am grateful to my Spiritual Enabler, without whose help I could do nothing. This Enabler also goes by the names Savior, Redeemer, Intercessor, and Friend.