Last week, I stood at my post behind a table of information serving with a club at one of the local schools. What passed before my eyes was a commotion of parents, students, teachers, coaches and siblings all being dragged from table to table to get T-shirts, sign up for activities, and get a distribution of locker assignments. The sight alone could easily send someone into hives. As one of my students came to me to share that they had indeed gotten the treasured top locker they had been praying for, I joined in excitement and thought back to my locker days.

The first time I had a locker was in sixth grade. I remember how nervous I was about getting it open the first day of school. My mom actually took me by the school after everyone had gone home or to their extracurricular activities for me to be able to “practice” opening my locker. I remember having to get the dial lined up just right on the lines in order for it to open properly. I practiced a number of times to make sure that I remembered the combination and was able to do it quickly should I need to hurry to my next class.

The first day of school, I walked in feeling confident and ready. When I came around the corner to go get books out of my locker there was something in the way that I had not prepared for — people. People were sitting on the ground in front of my locker. I went to lean over them to get my books, and they did not seem the least little bit put out as they remained sitting there in their own conversations not budging one inch.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you plan things out, have the dial in just the right spot, or practice. People just seem to be a variable that is unpredictable.

Many times in my middle and high school career I had locker woes, and they often involved people, not my actual locker.

God’s knowledge, wisdom and understanding is stored in our minds and hearts much like students store books in their lockers. Many times the unpredictable variable of people’s actions or words come into direct conflict with what we have under lock and key in our minds and hearts.

It is not odd for a student to walk into school knowing that they are known, loved and prepared to open a locker. However, the moment someone looks at them funny their confidence in what they came in knowing to the core goes down the drain.

The only way to put thoughts back into correct order is to do as the Message version of 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 says, “The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way — never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”

Our measurement tool is who we are in Christ. Any thought, person, or action that leads us to believe otherwise must be cleared.

As your students go back into the locker world, be one who clears obstructions. Put down the cell phone in the car and ask how things were at their locker today.

Caroline Hare is the youth minister at Destin United Methodist Church.