Press the button. Wait. Enter. Find a place to stand. Be quiet. Oh yeah, don’t forget to face forward. Whoever invented the elevator never realized what type of extraordinary effects it would have on the human race.
You could probably count on one hand the types of places where humans act in this strange behavior. A widely accepted and completely understood way of behaving while in an elevator; lets call it “elevator etiquette”.
I remember being in an elevator with my wife in a department store. We were joking around and the elevator was quite full. We were the last people who entered so we turned around and stared blankly at the silver sliding doors. What I did next came to the complete embarrassment of my wife; I proceeded to turn around and instead of facing the doors I faced the people who were in formation behind me.
First off, I don’t necessarily encourage this behavior, at the time it was funny but also really awkward. Every time I let my mind replay that scene in my head it brings back a cold chill of weirdness, but if you have the courage, by all means try it out.
Elevators do a weird thing to us don’t they? As social as humans are, they are silent around people who will share an average of 15 seconds on a moving box. I’ve been thinking about how often I live my entire life this way.
Wake up. Get Ready. Eat. Work. Sleep. It’s ironic how the certain things we do in our daily routine are parallel to the big picture of our lives. What is it about our human composition that traps us into a flow not unlike “elevator etiquette”?
Let’s imagine the elevator as our lives. If it helps, you can pick your favorite store to put your elevator in, just put on your imagination hat and think away.
As a Christian, I take the teachings of Jesus as a guide for my life. One of the things He taught was to tell people about Him, treat people as you would like to be treated, and help people anytime you can. I think in order to do any of those things, I would have to interact with people.
Not just people like me. But all kinds of people. People who think differently than me, look differently than me, raised differently than me, and so on and so on.
There are people on the elevator of life already and they are all on their own journey. If we were to have heard the words of Jesus with our own ears, and then turn to enter the elevator or life what would you do?
Knowing the significance of this elevator ride and its destination, would we enter, find a place to stand, face forward and be quiet? If the elevator ride was our only chance, our only ride, and the people inside were the only people we would ever come into contact with, would this be our reaction?
My wife was trying to pretend like she didn’t know me that day on the elevator; I think I would have done the same. The immediate reaction from the couple on my left was to turn away and talk to each other quietly. I didn’t have any real expectations for conversation so this didn’t bother me and as I regretted this decision immediately I just wanted to get off the elevator as fast as humanly possible.
I imagine when Peter saw Jesus staring at him for the first time from the shore in Galilee; it must have been a little awkward. Jesus shouldn’t have been worried about Peter and his brother, but He was. Jesus understood the temporary nature of this life; Jesus lived in the moment given.
I think something we can remember is to live in every moment of every single day. Every single moment is a new creation of God. The earth has never existed as it does this day at this time. If we only wake up and face the elevator doors everyday, we will miss so many opportunities that life has to offer. Forget stuff that doesn’t matter. Don’t give into the anger you see around you. What or who has life put in front of you today?
There will be times where you can compare your life to riding an elevator, living everyday as usual but missing purpose, missing relevance, and missing life. God designed every second for us to live fully in it.
I think if we were on the elevator of life we would feel obligated to speak to the people who were with us. We would share experiences, life stories, and probably a few jokes. We would realize that what makes us different is what makes our conversation so special. This is what attracted me to Jesus in the first place, he didn’t have favorites, He just loved people.
There are people everywhere around us; they are at home, at work, at school, and at Starbucks. Some listen to Country and some listen to Kanye. Some read, others run. While there may be a million things that make us different, there is one thing that brings us together, we all desire to be loved.
Life isn’t an elevator, but like an elevator it only lasts so long. Are we living in every moment? Are we striking conversation? Or are we turning around and staring at the elevator doors?
As I looked at some of the people in the elevator an older woman was looking at me. She smiled at me and I smiled back. As uncomfortable as this may sound, it wasn’t, it was a mutual greeting between two people.
The woman asked, “And how are we today?” I answered smiling, “Great.”