trying not to "enable"

After the last entry, Rose commented: "The challenge is to integrate co-dependency teachings with Jesus' teachings and the spiritual works of mercy, bearing wrongs patiently, suffering for their sakes, etc."

Yes, that is a challenge. I've been put off in the past by a lot of the psychology-based terminology like "co-dependency" (I remember Heather and my first exchange was an argument about "boundaries") but there is something important there. I think the psychological definitions of these problems are a bit lacking, since their model for "healthy" doesn't tend to be Jesus' model. I'm sure many psychologists would find Jesus' behavior quite alarming, even masochistic. But they do identify a real problem in many people. I guess I think if the problem could be defined more clearly (in Jesus' terms?) then there wouldn't be so much friction between "good boundaries" or "taking care of myself" and the selfless love that Jesus taught.

I've been struggling with something close to this myself lately. Personally I've had the most difficulty trying to help people who are clearly not helping themselves, who are often ungrateful, who are working against those who try to help them. What to do? Keep giving handouts? "Tough love" (whatever that means)? The 12-step teaching about letting someone's own behavior and suffering show them that they need help makes sense to me, and seems to be built on a faith in God's providence. Also, Jesus' practice of not storing up the "treasures" that these people go after in their self-destructiveness (money especially) also seems very helpful. Both of these practices would help avoid what the psychologists call "enabling." But I'm having a hard time figuring out how to start applying those here, where the practice is to give without considering the "worthiness" of the person. I'm starting to think that's not so holy as it might sound. Yes, God sends sun and rain to the just and unjust, but sun and rain only produces food for the person willing to plant and tend and harvest.

Not that this experience is turning me into a economic conservative. (At least I hope not.) It's just obvious that economic liberalism isn't right either. It's pretty horrible to see what so many welfare checks end up paying for. There has to be a radical Christian response--and I don't see shelters as the answer. Personal Christian hospitality seems closer. And Jesus' way of life seems the best yet.