My Boy Scout is away at camp this week. This is his third year at this particular camp with is own troop; his second as a patrol leader. (A patrol is a small group of boys within the larger troop.) This week at camp is usually a highlight of his year. Yes, usually. But not this year.
This year he wasn't so sure about going. He had previously told us that he'd recently started getting homesick while away at weekend camps. This was bothering him so much he skipped one trip earlier this summer. But as a leader, he can't bail out on too many activities. And a Boy Scout who doesn't want to go camping isn't going to be a Boy Scout for long.
So as summer camp approached he was feeling less happy anticipation and more unfocused dread. I know that feeling so well; too well. When he said "I keep hoping that something will happen and camp will be canceled" I knew we were getting into trouble. I often have that feeling when an event is approaching and I don't feel ready for it. It happens almost every time we are expecting company. I attribute it to my own disorganization: it's hard to look forward to a party when the bathroom still needs cleaning and there aren't enough clean forks and glasses an hour before guests are to arrive. But this was different.
As we peeled away the layers of his feelings, we discovered that he's inherited more from me than his love of books: control of the universe. I inherited it from my mom, too! And now I am passing it on to him.
He told me, "I'm afraid something will happen to one of you (meaning our whole family and the dog), or to me, while I'm away."
Yes, there it is: he controls the universe.
As I've been working on myself to relinquish that feeling that I control the universe, I didn't realize that I was just passing it on to him.
We went over all his fears and talked them over - endlessly, it seemed; that last week before camp was exhausting. He listed the bad things that had happened to people at camp. Nearly all of them were the result of poor judgment on the part of the victim, and even the one that seemed like a random, unexpected medical problem could have been caused by a boy simply not drinking enough water on a hot day.
We talked about the fact that we believe in a sovereign God - a God who truly does control the universe. We talked about the fact that God does allow bad things to happen to people, but that we still need to trust in him that it will all come right in the end.
We agreed that God is a better controller of the universe than any of us.
Did that help? I don't know. He stayed at camp. He sent a letter telling of fun during the day and homesickness at night. We will see him tonight for dinner and the closing campfire and awards ceremony. Camp doesn't end till tomorrow morning, so he will stay another night.
When he gets home, we'll start working on him to relinquish his notion of control. I'd like him to give it up before he has a child to pass it on to! That's an inheritance I don't want to leave.