Living with confrontation


I need to build a bridge to my son. He’s over there somewhere; I’m over here somewhere, and there is a wall between us. I built the wall, brick by brick, by avoidance. I’m the one who can remove it — or maybe together, we could build a bridge over it.

Chandler is confronting by nature, and I mean that in a good way. He says what he thinks and expects you to do the same. If you don’t, he doesn’t have time for you. I don’t always say what I think, and he knows it, so he doesn’t have time for me. I am not confronting by nature. I avoid confrontation at all costs — and the cost is high — it’s the cost of a relationship. Did I just say I would sacrifice a relationship to avoid confrontation? That’s how bad my isolation is.

I think that I am protecting myself through isolation but I am only making matters worse by adding to the wall. Oh I’m safe alright — hard, brittle, but safe, and lonely, without a son.

I desperately need to heed my own advice (Tuesday’s Catch), but I need to act on it, not just write about it. Being vulnerable is truly what is called for, but that means coming out of my isolation booth.

Not only is Chandler confronting, he is intimidating. He is bigger than me now, and stronger than me, and that’s not only physical. He’s just so sure of himself. I feel wimpy next to him. All the more reason to avoid confrontation and put another brick in the wall.

He has his own language and he thinks I understand it so he won’t take the time to explain himself. And since I don’t want to work hard enough to find out where I can understand him, we pass by on either side of our wall.

We had a brief talk last night. We talked about our spiritual connection, and I asked him to think about how we might find it again. At his treatment center we were famous for our spiritual connection, but nothing has been done about that since we got back. I know there is a way, but it’s going to be a way through my vulnerability. All of my tried and true ways don’t suit him and the way he thinks.

For instance, I would love for him to ask me questions, and I would be the spiritual answer man, but he doesn’t want that, and that would not make me vulnerable. I would love to teach him theology — Who is God? What’s the problem with man? How do we know the Bible is the word of God? What about the Trinity? — but he doesn’t want that either. Those are not his questions. Or I would love to teach him my favorite passages of Scripture, verse by verse, but he doesn’t learn that way, and besides, none of these methods travel through my vulnerability. They require very little of me. I can teach in my sleep. But he doesn’t want me to teach; he wants me to connect with him and what he already knows. This connection is going to have to be entirely new and creative — something  I’ve never done before. That requires me to be totally vulnerable to the way he thinks which is very different from the way I think, but if I want to build a bridge, this is the bridge.

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9 Responses to Living with confrontation

  1. Lisa in Sunland says:

    I’m the same way! I learned a phrase at a Smart conference I often say to myself over and over when trying to be brave and actually talk about something significant… “Conflict is the price we pay for intimacy.” Hope that helps a little. Blessings on ya!

  2. Bridget Clay says:

    Wow so transparent!! Thank you for speaking where many of us are living. I too hate confrontations and conflicts. My daughter is SO vocal in her opinions and I find myself not standing up for my views just to keep the peace or having her walk away from our conversation. It’s a connection that short circuits when we both pull away and she thinks I don’t love her like I do her siblings. Talk about a bridge connection…I like that you say we have to think of a new creative way to reach them. Jessica is artsy and I am analytical…somewhere I have to figure out how we meet in the middle of our bridge. And Lisa in Sunland….I am writing down that phrase!!! Something else I struggle with…intimacy….

  3. Mark Seguin says:

    May I plz suggest to consider for some more answers and help Pastor John the very good book by Dr. Robert Rohm DISC Method of Understanding Personalities.

    In it you’l find some great advice to helping you build those bridges…. Guaranteed! ❤ 🙂

  4. Peter Leenheer says:

    John, I read your very vulnerably transparent Catch. Thank you for your openness. I too wished at some point that my sons would tap into my wisdom, then I found out the wisdom they needed was that I keep my mouth shut and listen to what they were saying. After they were finished speaking I would encourage them, or confirm them in what they said even when I did not necessarily agree, and they might have been extremely offensive to me in what they said. My responses were seldom, and when I spoke they were encouraging because I tried to observe something that they were doing well and then complimented them.

    For years as a parent I gave free unsolicited and mostly unwanted advice and I had to break that bad habit. It is still a work in progress. I also began to tell my sons That I loved them very frequently. The other one was mostly listening and only speaking compliments. This wisdom they appreciate more than anything else I have ever told them.

    This has now been done for about five years. Occassionally I can know offer a pearl of wisdom. I offer a prayer and think about it , before I say it. Often decide not to. Funny, the less I say and the more I listen, the more my parental stock has gone up.

  5. Sandie says:

    John – one thing I learned with my now-adult kids…first, they ARE adults and want neither my advice or opinion…unless asked for. We need to LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN before offering our opinion or advice. That shows respect and consideration. Another thing I learned…it’s ok to fall on your face and need forgiveness – they need to see us fail, pick ourselves up and try again. If we appear (and it’s only appearance; smoke and mirrors) to have it all together, all the time, we give them an unattainable goal to strive for (See Pharisee). They need to hear us forgive them, with actions that show we really have. We need to give credit where and when it’s due…without overdoing it…that’s being phony in a different way. We need to say “thank you” and “please” more often. My youngest is in his mid-thirties and I am still learning. The benefit is “earning the right to speak.”

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