Thursday, August 29, 2013

Holding the Key

There are days that seem to be just days of keys. Keys of all shapes and sizes, some keys you can't find and some that you can. Some that send us into a tailspin and some that bring on a strange emotional cocktail of excitement and anxiety. Some that we have been desperate to locate and some that we've patiently waited on for a long time. All this talk to keys makes me think about the dramatic difference that a locked or unlocked door can make in our lives.

Flashback with me to 2007, if you will. I was teaching a fresh crop of sixth graders. Everything about these guys was new - they had a new teacher, new classroom, new school - you name it, new. new. new. In the pile of newness were these very cool, but rather bothersome grown up cubbies - lockers. And those lockers had to have locks. And those kids, who have never been able to remember their phone number, let alone a random combination, are now told they get to learn how to use their first combination lock. Oh what fun for sixth grade teachers and friendly custodians. Not-so-Precious memories, how they linger.

Fast forward a bit to a couple weeks down the road. Most everybody in this sixth grade class has managed to learn the ins and outs of combination locks. If nothing else, they can get into their locker. At this point, truthfully, this is sometimes the only thing they have mastered at this point in their middle school careers. But there is always one. Sometimes more, but always one. You know him. He's that kid reduced to some place between tears and pounding fists - and his locker will not open. He thinks he know the combination. He thought he had it figured out. His mom wrote down the combination for him and he had it... until he lost it yesterday. Can his teacher help? The person who is supposed to know how to fix things at school? Nope. She somehow didn't memorize his combination either. And then a hero comes along.

The hero of our story has a lot of keys. They jingle, jangle, jingle, much like Glen Campbell's lyrical spurs. But his keys aren't what we need this time around. No, we're going for something with much more torque. Bolt cutters. When all else fails and you can't get in, these things and this hero are a sixth grader's best friends. At this point in our story, the hero (a school custodial worker) comes to the rescue, saves the day, and cuts the lock off of the locker. It's a beautiful thing and now life can resume.

Sometimes we need someone with the key. Other times, we just need a bolt cutter. Either way, we need to be able to let others come alongside us and help us to open up the things that we've locked away.

I said all of that to say this - we need each other. We need each other to figure out our combinations, to pick our locks, to hold the key (even if it is a bolt cutter) for each other. Me personally, I've had some great key holders along the way and I'm so very thankful for them. Jason Grey has a song out on his "Everything Sad is Coming Untrue" album that says it so much better than I can. Have a listen:

"The key to the truth
Of what's really going on
Your listening ear
Is the grace of God
Love will take the shackles off
But you're the one holding the key..."

"We all need it sooner or later
A safe place for telling the truth
I'm happy returning the favor
'Cause I'm holding the key for you"