Did you know that I like to help people?  I have a deep love for others and a desire to see them reach their potential.  That’s a good thing, right?

Right!  It is a good thing and comes from learning at the feet of my Mother, many years of following Christ, and some natural inclination.  However, like anything else, a gift out of balance becomes a flaw.  Our gifts or special abilities, when out of balance, often lead to our greatest weaknesses.  I have found this true in every area of my life.

At one time in my life, I was soooo stupid helpful that I became an enabler — and a TARGET!  I didn’t realize that taking on all those ‘helpful’ tasks for others, was keeping them from taking responsibility themselves.  I took responsibility for everything!  Often people didn’t even have to ask, they just had to hint, and I’d jump right in.  Sounds great, but it wasn’t.

First, people began to use me, or they would just assume “Angie will do it!”.  (Reminds me of the Mikey commercial — “Get Angie, she’ll do anything.”)  I allowed others to manipulate me because of my desire to help and serve  was out of balance.

I will save this story for another post, but it took a tragedy some major hard knocks to bring me to my senses.  In my eagerness to help, I had harmed myself and my family.  I had also harmed the people I had helped so assiduously!  Now there’s nothing wrong with helping people out when they need it, but it has to remain in balance, or it becomes enabling.  Enabling allows someone to not take responsibility for his or her own actions.  This is wrong.

I still have to watch this carefully.  I have realized recently that in an attempt to “be all things to all people”, I have allowed my priorities to slip again. I am no longer an enabler, and I don’t take hints at all.  If you want something from me, you must ask (and understand if I say no — or not but your problem, not mine).  But, I have still allowed my helper gene to cause me to give time tneeded elsewhere to others.  Right now I am helping out with my Dad (because I’m the only one who doesn’t have a “job” — it’s REALLY hard to retrain family!); we also get my Mother-in-law frequently, who is 86 and has dementia.  I have a husband who often gets neglected while I am busy at these and other tasks.

Sometimes life happens.  I get that.  However, I have felt conviction (often from some of your posts Anne Marie Dwyer in particular) about the use of my time.  When stressors come into one’s life, such as taking care of an elderly parent, you have to let some other things go.  It just isn’t possible to live life as you lived it before.  I have tried to do so anyway!  INSANE!

So I have assesed my priorities as I make room in my life for frequent trips south to my Dad’s again.  If I don’t show up here or on your blogs as often, this is why.  I would love to read them all and pay them forward, but I have neglected other important things to do so.  I am aware that, if necessary, some of you will get along just fine without me (ack, what a concept!) but I hope you will forgive me and be patient with me as I seek to gain and maintain balance in my life.  This post isn’t really about my internet reading and helping (unasked for by any of you). It’s about me trying to find balance after finding a new load added to my plate. I’ve taken facebook off my phone and stopped trying to keep up with every post of every friend already (I told you I’m an idiot 🙂 ).  I’ve declined some volunteer work (church) that I’d really like to do.  I have said no to a lot of things I wish I didn’t have to.  One step at a time, I am seeking to change my backsliding and find me again.

What about you?  Do you rush to help others while allowing important things to slide?  Do you have trouble weeding out the good, so you can focus on the best?  Do you take time for yourself amidst your busy schedule?  If you want, what are some tips you use to keep your priorities in line?  Do you have strengths you’ve allowed to get out of balance and become flaws?  Are you eager to help others, even at the expense of your self and family?