I work in a large office building with one dedicated â€œexpress elevatorâ€ that goes straight to the top floor. Outside this express elevator and next to the elevator call button, a red sign on the wall says, â€œExpress Elevator: Stops at Lobby and 21 ONLYâ€.
But there are no signs on the inside of the elevator. And after you get into the elevator, you can push the buttons all you want to, but only â€œ21â€ and â€œ1â€ light up. Once in the express elevator and the elevator doors close, youâ€™re going up to â€œ21â€ or down to â€œ1â€. There is nothing you can do about it.
Usually, people are in a big hurry to get to an appointment, and so they rush into the express elevator, and never even notice the â€œExpress Elevator: Stops at Lobby and 21 ONLYâ€ sign. These people push the elevator buttons repeatedly, and look around frantically for someone to explain to them why the buttons arenâ€™t lighting up, and why the elevator is showing no signs of stopping on their floor. Then someone who knows this is an express elevator intervenes and says to them, â€œthis is an express elevator. It stops at 21 onlyâ€.
The reactions to this revelation range from humor (â€œOh, how silly! Iâ€™m stuck in the elevator going to the wrong floor!â€), to annoyance (â€œGreat, now Iâ€™m going to be late for my meetingâ€), to utter confusion (blank stare). Sometimes when Iâ€™m in the express elevator alone with people trapped on their way to the wrong floor, they get upset and hold me accountable for their predicament. A few people have even rudely insinuated that Iâ€™m not so special that I should get my very OWN elevator. They think Iâ€™ve intentionally trapped them in the elevator all the way up to the 21st floor â€“ and that I know the secret to letting them off on their floor, but I choose not to share it with them.
Of course, there are many lessons to learn about life from the story of the express elevator (people in Boston are rude and obnoxious?! (joke)). Some signs are hard to see. You rush into things that look good (an open elevator door!), but then quickly discover that you are stuck going somewhere you donâ€™t want to go. One reason we are taught that we should follow our Church leaders is that they are able to see and read the signs more clearly than we can, precisely because some of the signs may not seem to apply to us, or seem silly, or exclusive.
On another level, one reason itâ€™s sometimes difficult to follow Church leaders is that the counsel they give is not as nearly clear as reading the signs so as to not get stuck in the wrong elevator. And some of these questions affect us deeply: Whom should I marry? Which career should I choose? Where shall I live? How many children should we have? Are frozen embryos real human beings we shouldnâ€™t exploit for our own purposes? Unlike getting into the express elevator and pushing the right buttons, even if we try our very best to follow the counsel of our leaders, and with pure intentions set a goal to get to the 17th floor, we may actually wind up on the 7th floor, wandering around looking for the nearest exit to the stairwell.
Lately, Iâ€™ve been thinking that life would be so much easier if we were able to find the right elevator, push the right button, and get to where we wanted to go. But I guess then we wouldnâ€™t have much to blog about.