>I’ve either written about it, or alluded to it, here before, but I don’t have a good relationship with my dad. In fact, it’s been about 18 months since I last talked to him. I had a simple request; namely, that he be polite to my wife when he calls. (There is too much water under the bridge of our relationship to retread it now, but suffice it to say that there were numerous failures on both our parts over the course of many years prior this call).
Because he wouldn’t comply with this simple request, I took the step–far too long in coming–of cutting ties, or what is known in Internet parlance as “initiating the ZCP”–the “Zero Contact Protocol.” I don’t hate the man, but neither do I really like him. I know he had a rough upbringing, but that’s no excuse for some of his signature–pardon the language–dick moves. Like calling my wife’s phone, asking for me, being asked who’s calling, and replying “Chad’s dad.” (My wife, being a more private person than me requests that I don’t use her name). “Oh, hi, this is Mrs. Chad.” “I know. Put Chad on.”
And so I let it go for years. Of my regrets, this is one if the greatest: that I didn’t man up sooner and put him in his place. I could’ve saved my wife so much unnecessary pain, and myself a lot of grief. But life, I suppose, hadn’t prepared me, or, honestly, I hadn’t prepared myself. In any case, I so often took the path of least resistance, and lived as a people-pleaser.
Despite it biting me in rear repeatedly, I people-pleased with the best of them. Until last year. When a tiny phone call became the tipping point. I finally learned that honoring one’s father and mother doesn’t mean bending over and taking it. So I pulled a Network, and said “I’m not gonna take it anymore.” For my sake, my wife’s, our children’s: I’m not gonna take it anymore. Initially, it was difficult, but the decision has grown on me. In fact, the same Bible that says “honor your father and mother,” also says “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”
It is my hope that this pruning will bear fruit someday. Time will tell. In the meantime, I pray. In the meantime, dad is still a sad, bitter, stubborn old man. Yes, I’m sad for me–for what could’ve been, what should’ve been–sad for my kids, who have no real relationship with their grandpa. But, honestly, it was his choice, not mine. Much like those who reject Jesus in this life, and go to stand before the Father in the next: He will not send them to Hell–they’ve already sent themselves. Much like this, dad has chosen the hell of this separation. And in this vale of tears we all suffer.
I said above that I’m sad for me, but mostly I’m sad for dad.
How about you? Do you have difficult family relationships? How do you deal with them? Please click-through and leave your comments. It is my hope that we can pray for one another.