Key Points:

  • Intervening in our loved ones life delaying or shielding them from consequences may not actually bless them.
  • Protecting them from hurt and not enabling is a fine line.
  • You’re delaying their healing by protecting them from feeling pain. God disciplines us via consequences.
  • As a father myself, initially I’m going to intervene with my own wisdom and instruction and then my own discipline. But let’s say that’s not working and my son is in jail for the second or third time. Would my bailing him out be a hinderance to him feeling the weight of consequences for his decisions?
  • Facing consequences is an opportunity for me to actually experience growth. It’s an opportunity for my character change, evolve to get stronger, but when I’m spared consequences, guys, you take away my opportunity to become better. You take away my opportunity for life to teach me some lessons.


Full transcript:

Hey guys, Dee Bonney here. I wanted to come on and chat with you for a minute about something that has really just been laid on my heart lately and I’ve pondered it a lot and I just think we need to talk about it a little bit. You see, I think that God created the world in such a way that when we do certain things, there are consequences. And I think sometimes we try to intervene and prevent people from having those consequences and I don’t think it blesses them.

So if you know my story at all, I had my own addiction to hydrocodone 16 years ago and by the grace of God was able to get through this torturous road of treatment and came out on this other side better. But one of the things that I see when I talk to, especially parents of adult children who are struggling with addiction, with substance use disorder like opioid use disorder or a stimulant use disorder like methamphetamine or even alcohol use disorder. One of the things that I see is that we have a difficult time loving these people well in our life who are struggling with an addiction because we don’t know what to do.

We want to protect them. We don’t want to hurt them, we want to love them well, but we don’t want to enable them. So I want to tell you a little story about me actually prior to my addiction, back when I was living at home and through middle school and high school. And I had wonderful parents growing up, my mom and dad, they were great, but we didn’t have a perfect household. I mean we were generally happy and things were in general good. But one of the things that I notice now when I look back is they did this thing where they would sometimes, a handful of times maybe, they would allow me to be spared consequences that I should have suffered.

Now, they were great about disciplining me and in general I was a good kid and I made good grades and I think that’s why I was able to get away with some of the stuff that I’ll share with you. But I remember, and I hope my teachers are not listening, I remember through middle school and high school, if I had procrastinated on a project, if I had not done the paper or not prepared for the exam or didn’t have the completed vinyl project done the night before, I could kind of come clean like, “Hey, this is due tomorrow and I didn’t have it done.” And it was… I’d get a pass, like I wouldn’t have to go to school the next day because I’d have a bellyache and I’m sure my belly did hurt. Right? I’d have a bellyache and everyone knew that it was because I didn’t have my stuff done.

But I would get to stay home and I would get to finish the project or prepare for the exam or get the paper written and then go to school the next day. I’m feeling better because my stuff was done. So my parents were great and it wasn’t really, it wasn’t technically lying because my belly was upset. But when I look back, what they were doing was they were allowing me to not suffer consequences when really what should have happened, mom and dad, what should have happened was that the night before I’m like, “Hey, I don’t have my paper done for tomorrow.” And they should’ve been like, “Tomorrow’s going to be a rough day for you. What can I say?” “No, but my belly hurts.” “Yeah, I know why your belly hurts. You’re still going to school.”

So fast forward into adulthood. Fast forward into my own struggle with my hydrocodone addiction 16 years ago. And I think in my mind I thought that I’m generally a good guy. I’m a doctor, I take care of people. I’m married, I have a beautiful toddler, my son. And if anything were to happen, if I were going to get caught writing scripts for a family member, that I would get spared consequences. So as it turns out, the world in general does not work that way.

So picture me asleep after an overnight, sleeping in my sleep room, which was really just a walk in closet with a mattress on the floor. And my former spouse comes in because there was a DEA agent on our front door that she heard, because she was up and I didn’t hear because I was asleep. She comes in, she wakes me up and she says, “The DEA is here.” Well that woke me up. I’m like, “What?” She goes, “Yeah, the DEA is here and they want to talk to you.”

Well I knew what it was about because I had been writing prescriptions for a family member who also had an addiction and then, I would have some of those as well. And we were codependent and both dependent on hydrocodone. So I knew what the DEA was there for. It was no mystery. But I remember saying, “Well tell them no, that I’m asleep right now. And that I worked overnight.” And she’s like, “They’re not going to go away over that. They’re in our living room.”

So I came out and I faced a really difficult conversation. Now when I look back, I could have had much more severe consequences, never lost my ability to prescribe, had to enter into some treatment agreements. And that ended up getting me into treatment down the road as well. But my point is I was going through life thinking that when something happened I was going to get a pass.

And so, if you have people in your life that you love who are struggling with a substance use disorder, you might find yourself in that same place where there are natural consequences that life should be dealing them. And yet, it’s not happening because you’re intervening, you’re sparing your son or your daughter, your husband or wife, your best friend. You’re sparing them consequences. So sometimes we’re making decisions in life where we should end up in jail. Sometimes we’re making decisions in life where we should lose our job or we should be homeless. But as the loving family members, we stepped in because we want to spare that person pain. And guys, I’m telling you that if you’re sparing someone pain, that the natural order of the universe that God set up says, “Well you do X, then Y happens and you suffer Z.” If you’re intervening there into that equation and you’re keeping them from experiencing Y or you’re keeping Y from happening and keeping them from experiencing Z, you’re not loving them well.

In fact, what you’re doing is you’re delaying that person’s recovery. You’re delaying their healing because one of the things that God does is he disciplines us and he does that via consequences. So if one of my five boys were to do something that caused them to end up in jail, or let’s say they’re doing something wrong, right? Initially I’m going to intervene with my own wisdom and instruction and then my own discipline. But let’s say that’s not working. Because you’ve seen this happen, if not immediately around you, you’ve seen it peripherally in other people’s lives. But let’s say that my son is doing something that would warrant him, ended up in jail, and he does. And I’d go down there within a couple of hours and I’d bail him out. Maybe that’s not the best thing for him. You know, we could have a discussion. Maybe the first time it is.

And so there’s an opportunity for him to kind of change his ways and do things differently. But in general, if one of my boys does something that should warrant them being in jail. If I intervene and I spare that person from that, I’m not loving them well, and there’s all sorts of reasons why we do this and you’ve probably experienced some of this. We don’t want to hurt for that person. So when our son or daughter or our spouse hurts, we hurt. And so we don’t want to hurt. So we spare them the consequences of what they’re doing or maybe it comes back to our own pride. You’ve got to take a look at this. Is it that I don’t want people in my social circle to know that my son is in jail for two months over a drug paraphernalia? Is it that I don’t want him to go to prison because that reflects poorly on me?

So guys, we have to stop and really take a look at what our motives are. And don’t get me wrong, I know that most of the time our motives are pure, we want to love this person well. But you’ve heard of enabling. And a lot of times what enabling is, is it’s eliminating consequences for someone. And so rather than that person suffering that consequence and then having to deal with that, right? If I had had to show up at school as an honor roll student, an A/B student and say, “Nope, Mr. so and so, I did not write my paper.” That would have felt bad. I probably am only going to do that once, maybe twice. And I would have learned the lesson.

So when we do intervene and we prevent those consequences, that discipline from coming into our loved ones life, we delay their recovery, we delay their healing from their addiction. We delay or eliminate their opportunity for growth. You’ve been through some pain. I know that you have, you’ve had things that life or family or someone didn’t spare you from and what happened when you went through that pain? You grew, you had an opportunity to grow in character. You had an opportunity to decide that you’re going to be a more honest person, that you’re going to walk with integrity. But see if I lie to my boss and then my wife agrees to follow up that lie and support me, then I’ve not learned anything. I didn’t suffer any consequences. But if I lie to my boss about something and then my wife is kind of put on the spot, she’s like, “I’m not telling that lie.” And I get busted, right? If I keep my job, I’m probably not going to lie again, not in that situation.

So it’s an opportunity for me to actually experience growth. It’s an opportunity for my character change, evolve to get stronger, but when I’m spared consequences, guys, you take away my opportunity to become better. You take away my opportunity for life to teach me some lessons.

I want to read this passage. Here it is in Hebrews 12:11 it says, “No discipline. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” So if you got some stuff going on in your life and it’s not painful, it’s not really discipline. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.” We all want peace. “Produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained in it.”

So guys, allow your family member, allow your adult children to undergo some of life’s disciplines. See, I believe that God is a perfect father and I believe that he disciplines us out of love and he does that through kind of the natural laws of life, right? If I go into a convenience store and I steal and I get caught, I’m going to go to jail. That’s discipline and I’m at a point in my life and I’m trying to be wise. Like when God disciplines me, I want to learn it the first time. I don’t want to keep going through that same discipline over and over again. But you know people who do. You know people who are revolving door around the jails.

And so you’ve heard in recovery that some people, they don’t change until they hit bottom. And unfortunately some people, it even says an AA, some people don’t ever actually hit bottom, and that’s terrifying. But you can’t change that. But they’ll never get to bottom if you keep sparing them consequences. So that’s how you love them well, is you put aside your own need to not hurt for that person. You put aside your own pride. You put aside your need for everything to just be okay and allow there to be some consequences. And you can do that at the same time that you’re walking with this person and that you’re loving them well. They might not think it. They’re going to try to manipulate the situation. “If you love me, you would have got me out of jail.” “No, I loved you, so I’m letting you have some pain and it hurts me to do that. But I love you enough to have this pain in myself watching you hurt because it’s the only chance that you have of getting better.”

Guys, this stuff’s important, you know? I mean, it really is life or death. So I hope this helps. I hope you find it encouraging. If it does, please share this video. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel. I’ll try to keep bringing you good information here, and I just hope that I can help guide you along the way from pain that I’ve experienced in my life. I like to help people from places that I’ve been hurting before, from places where I’ve not gotten it right. So thanks for tuning in. I’ll talk to you guys soon. Love you guys. Bye.

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