Monkey see, monkey (don’t) do

th-58Probably the most dysfunctional thing about my family growing up (and every family has something dysfunctional) was the avoidance of confrontation at all cost, and each day as I still struggle with this, I am constantly made aware of just how high a price that was. It is far worse than any confrontation anyone could experience, because the price is the cost of the relationship itself. We finally discover that the only way to truly avoid confrontation is to avoid each other entirely.

In a comment to the Catch, Gitta got me thinking about this when she pointed out that our “loud conversation” that I wrote about in yesterday’s Catch wasn’t quite what she had been praying for when she prayed for us, until she realized that to not have the conversation would be worse. How correct that is.

In fact, Marti has been trying to get me to see that Chandler is the hope for this family for this very reason, because he pushes us into these conversations I don’t want to have, but must have, if there is going to be anything healthy going on.

Do any of you remember the “See no Evil; Hear no Evil; Speak no Evil” monkeys whose origin, according to one source, was a 17th-century carving over a door of the famous Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan? We used to have a little sculpture of those guys above our sink in the kitchen. I always thought they were from the Bible, since I grew up in an evangelical home and my mom was always quoting scripture, and anything we had on the wall was from a Bible bookstore (the monkeys probably were as well). Those monkeys became a sort of unspoken symbol for our family. The translation being: “Whatever is worthy of criticism about this family, pretend not to see it, not to hear it and most definitely, don’t talk about it to anyone.”

Here is the truth of the matter: One of the best ways to allow evil in is to pretend it isn’t there. Confronting it allows God to do something about it, and encourages all those who are involved in the process. Without a doubt, our strongest Catches this year have been those involving Chandler, his drug addiction, our enabling (there are those monkeys again), his treatment, our coming together as a family, and our learning process, all of which are still ongoing, and will be indefinitely. In the process, we have connected with so many of you who are going through or have gone through similar struggles, and have learned how our story has been an encouragement to many. As Marti likes to say, “Every reconciliation requires a confrontation.”

So, our loud conversation was actually a good thing, and exactly what Gitta, and so many others of you have been praying for after all. Thank you, everyone!

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10 Responses to Monkey see, monkey (don’t) do

  1. Greg Krejci says:

    Once again, I thank you for your honesty and openness. It truly is a learning process. All four of my kids are on their own path and this last Christmas, I sort of confronted them about some things that I felt needed to be addressed about their walk with the Lord. Wham, I had to take a back step or two. It is truly a learning process and I had no parental guidance in any of it myself. The monkeys are sometimes still on the shelf at my house too.

  2. Peter Leenheer says:

    John, thank you for your honesty, vulnerability, and authenticity. When I read what you are experiencing in your life right now, it makes my heart glad. Marti is right, a crisis in a family is a good thing if people decide that now is the time to sort some stuff out. The road to being like Jesus is one of wounds, injustice, and mercy to name but a few. It is worth it, because it takes us into a life of redemption. Your candid thoughts are encouraging and no doubt make a huge difference in making a dysfunction functional. I have been where you are John, and it rears its ugly head from time to time to remind me I don’t want to go there.

    Such candor is the stuff of sainthood. God bless you and your family. You mentioned once that Chandler had a dream for this ministry, I hope I live long enough to see that.

  3. PrayingMom says:

    So true John! In our family the dysfunction becomes no confrontation in love, not tell the family member why they are angry, but to cut that family member off from communication for years as to punish that individual. Talk about hurt all around! Unfortunately, when role-modeled even the innocent little ones pick up on this destructive behavior.
    We are so grateful for the prayer warriors who pray for us 24/7. We wait for a miracle for God to open eyes!

  4. andy says:

    the origin of the word conflict from the greek meant face to face how appropriate today

  5. Mark Seguin says:

    Dear Pastor John & Marti I could be wrong, I’ll very easily admit I often am and pretty sure I’ll be again in the near future. As I’ve suggested a few times, even just yesterday I did for you all to plz, pretty plz seriously consider reading a book that will GREATLY help you all…

    Kind of like yesterday in how you wrote about that tree falling and killing that woman in it. Again I sorry I could be wrong yet again, yet I don’t remember reading a whole lot of empathy from you in regards to that family that lost a sister, mother or an aunt – Yet where was your sympathy for that family? I’m so sorry I just don’t remember reading any, again if it was there and I missed it – I’m sorry and plz forgive my error… But plz learn other people have feelings – if you were a Minister come over to my house after that to try and consul us – I would more than likely asked u to leave and get out of here w/ your theories about the wind!!!

    Back to today’s Catch, hopefully you and ever else who maybe reading thiks understands I love you all and would like to offer some help – Not jus from my prayers, that’s the easy part – A little bit harder part is to try and have you consider opening your mind and reading a book. Namely the DISC method of understand Personality types. (PT) by Robert A. Rohm

    You wrote above: “As Marti likes to say, “Every reconciliation requires a confrontation.” Of course she would say that! She’s an “I” PT – People like her and me believe there’s isn’t anything wrong with confrontation, yet people w/ your type of PT, which I believe is a “C” don’t think/believe that way… So why does things have to be Marti’s way? Cannot you both learn what works BEST with all 4 PTs?

    • jwfisch says:

      Okay, Mark. I will try to be more sensitive. Thanks for pointing that out. Do be careful with how far you go with personality types. Just because confrontation is harder for me to do than Marti doesn’t mean I don’t have to learn how to do it. Each personality type has its own weaknesses as well as strengths. Those weaknesses can’t be used as an excuse to not grow in those areas where we need growth.

      • Mark Seguin says:

        Exactly “Each personality type has its own weaknesses as well as strengths. Those weaknesses can’t be used as an excuse to not grow in those areas where we need growth.” Amen, and it seems to be when we better understand our own PT and the strength and weakness of each, it can only help to make all relationships better.
        PS could that have been seen and understood from my very next sentence: “Cannot you both learn what works BEST with all 4 PTs?” Yet this seeming refusal for well over a year to consider picking up a book that can and will help – is about amazing… 🙂

      • If I may interject here, Mark…
        It’s not an issue about a perceived or even blatant “refusal” on John and Marti’s part, but (I believe) more about time constraints.
        I am certain that John and Marti’s time has been stretched to the max by people like us who make innumerable requests for their time and attention.
        As they rise in “popularity” (for lack of a better word) more and more people claw and scramble for their notice.
        We want – like all followers or subscribers to any motivating or empowering entity – simply to be singled out and positively acknowledged.
        And, I’m sure the Fischers are keenly aware of that.
        However, there are only so many hours in a day as well as decisions that can be made about whom to respond to or acknowledge. I believe they try their very best to be sensitive but can only parcel out their replies within a limited timeframe that also encompasses required personal needs and well-deserved “Sabbath” rests.
        Have you not noticed that most of their responses to these posts are consistently succinct: four or five words at most? On rare occasion, a couple of sentences??

        You’ve been promoting this book for, as you say, well over a year.
        It has obviously made a huge impact on your life, and that is wonderful.
        Many people – including John and Marti, I’m sure – HAVE noticed and, perhaps, have followed your enthusiastic recommendations to read Mr. Rohms’ work.
        But.oftentimes, especially after one has “banged the drum” so loudly and frequently – and, yet, received no perceived reaction – one needs to shake the dust from their feet and “let it go” (for a season or two, anyway)….

        Shalom, my brother and friend….

  6. Mellissa Plowman says:

    Such a wonderful and honest post. I grew up the same way. Like when we gave our lives to God, He was suppose to magically wave this wand over us and we became perfect. How ridiculous that now seems. Christians should be MORE open & honest with each other so we can help each other through these hard times.

  7. Terri Main says:

    I think this is one of those areas where balance is called for. I’ve seen many people believing firmly in the “healthiness” of confrontation, confronting each other right into divorce court. Likewise, I’ve seen people who held back so much that when it did come out it was destructive. I’m a great believer in the concept of “picking your battles.” I worked with a woman who believed the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” I’m not sure why she wanted grease, but it was her motto. The problem was that she complained about everything from a slightly sticky lock to our shared classroom which was like a long narrow windowless dungeon. The problem was she never accomplished anything except make people run when they saw her running. Everything was the same to her.

    I’ve seen families do the same thing. The toilet paper is on “wrong,” the towels aren’t folded “right”, the toothpaste (hmm maybe we should just avoid bathrooms). and so on. Everything became a major battle. Consequently, when there was something serious like how to deal with a child’s acting out or serious financial matters, they were still fuming over the battle over the toilet paper and have no energy left for the big issues.

    Some things just don’t matter. Some things do. Effective communication is often not whether you confront one another, but whether that confrontation really matters.

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