I’m not a fan of crowds.
Give me a beach by myself and I’ll be happy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can attend things like church or concerts. Put me in the midst of a crowded event where things aren’t moving and I’ll start to get uncomfortable. Crowds, besides being oppressive, can hurt us in other ways.
Our older son has had some issues in school the past two days. As I read over the email from his teacher, I found myself getting frustrated. He hangs out with two kids in his class and, for some reason, they seem to be the center of trouble. And I know Carter is a follower. He’s not the type to create issues.
So, he’s in the wrong crowd and we’ve found ourselves at one of those parenting crossroads.
I’ve written before how I’m a fan of Pastor Erwin McManus out at Mosaic Church in LA. I remember, in one of his books, reading about how we are a society based on collective worship. Youtube a popular artist playing live and you’ll find evidence in a second. There’s an old clip of U2 playing Where the Streets Have No Name at a castle in Ireland and the sea of people is mesmerizing. It is, in condensed form, worship.
We are also wired to find community. As an introvert, this had made me uncomfortable more than once. I do believe that God places people in our lives to help us through the dark times and celebrate in the light.
I sat down with Carter yesterday and asked him about his friends. I told him he needs to look at the choices he makes, that his friends will show him where he’s going.
We often stress about our own stories but, when your child is involved, their narrative sticks in your mind. More than once today I’ve thought about what he was doing in school and prayed he would have a good day.
I’ve had friends from when I was Carter’s age who’ve gone and had great success personally and professionally. I’ve had others who’ve ended up in prison. At the time, these people were just my classmates, kids I’d see a few days a week for a few months of the year.
One guy I knew passed away from cancer the summer we graduated high school.
It can’t be easy being a kid today. Their processing demand is much more than anything we had to deal with. There are moments I sit across from him and wonder about the universe inside his mind.
This week has not been once of peace but I hope, as we go, we can find some. Carter will continue to find his own crowds. We can only hope his internal radar gets tuned towards those that enhance who he is as a person, those he can laugh and grow with, the ones whose friendship will extended into decades.
The ones who will make him happy and challenge him to be a better person. The journey will not be easy, but worth it in the end.