Have you ever noticed how awkward elevator rides can be (especially in hospitals)? The 7ft x 9ft squared contraption has a way of ushering in an uncomfortable silence. People will be laughing it up, enjoying the humor of a friend, a video, a song, or a scene, but, as soon as the elevator doors open, the demonstrative expression will disappear as they step into the socially awkward rectangle. Over the past nine weeks, I have witnessed brash, loud socializers become noticeably reserved introverts upon entering the elevator. It is the weirdest thing. So weird, in fact, that elevator-people-watching has become one of my favorite pastimes. I love watching how each individual creatively compensates for their lack of comfort in such an inescapably intimate space.
Most people struggle to be their true selves when riding the elevator. Yes, I readily accept that there are some outliers who contradict the aforementioned description; however, I also believe my conclusions are closer to the rule than they are to the exception. Unless you are riding with well-known associates, odds are, you will struggle to coexist comfortably in elevators. And I think I know why. I believe it has something to do with our natural aversion to sharing an intimate space with people we don’t trust. In a way, we endure wordless elevator rides for the same reason we struggle to remain vulnerable–close proximity without trust yields wariness.
That’s why I’ve tried to use the half-dozen rides I take (per day) to challenge my own insecurities. Each elevator encounter affords me an opportunity to overcome shrinking, hiding, or withdrawing. I no longer stare aimlessly at the lit buttons on the left panel. I force myself to make eye-contact and I extend genuine salutations. I no longer stare at the floor to avoid interaction; instead, I hold my head up, opening myself to possible exchanges with peculiar passengers. Each elevator ride becomes a laboratory; every interaction becomes an experiment. If you can conquer elevator awkwardness, you can thrive (interpersonally) in any setting. So with every lift, my emotional intelligence gets a boost while my improved skills cultivate confidence.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
EYES–Jesher’s ophthalmologist examined him today and gave him an A+ on his exam! His eyes are developing without any need for concern at this time. He will return to examine Jesher in two weeks. This means that his eyes are not showing any decline due to high oxygen or bilirubin levels. WE PRAISE YAHWEH FOR THIS GOOD REPORT! PLEASE ASK HIM TO PROVIDE JESHER WITH MANY MORE GOOD REPORTS. ASK GOD TO DELIVER JESHER FROM ALL DEFICITS, DISORDERS, OR DISEASES!
WEIGHT–In my previous post, I requested prayer concerning Jesher’s weight. We are asking the Lord to gift Jesher baby fat. Our goal is to see Jesher reach 3lbs by May 5th. Thus far, on May 1st, Jesher has reached 2lbs 14oz. This means he is only two ounces away from reaching this goal! PLEASE ASK THE LORD TO FATTEN JESHER UP, SO HIS ORGANS, BONES, AND MUSCLES CAN DEVELOP WITH ADDED SUPPORT.
HEART–Jesher has completed his second round of indomethacin. This is a medication prescribed to aid the closure of Jesher’s PDA [Patent ductus arteriosus]. If his PDA does not close on its own, heart surgery will be required. We are asking God to allow Jesher to avoid any surgeries; therefore, we need his PDA to close and remain closed. The doctors do believe that it closed about 4 weeks ago, but it opened back up soon after (which is normal for preemies born prior to 30 weeks). PLEASE ASK GOD TO CLOSE JESHER’S PDA AND SEAL IT SO THAT IT CANNOT REOPEN. ASK YAHWEH TO DELIVER JESHER FROM NEEDING ANY SURGICAL PROCEDURES.
The next time you are in an elevator, take The Elevator Challenge. Don’t retreat from explicit engagement; don’t find a fixed point on the floor to stare at; don’t resent the closeness, and don’t resist the intimacy. Embrace the space! Tell yourself that you have no reason to cower, and then lift your chin. Open your body language to receive reciprocal action. If no interaction comes, no worries…you did your part. And if interaction does ensue, you can flex your vulnerability muscles and get a mid-day interpersonal workout. Either way, you win! You win because you had the guts to remain available–despite the awkwardness.
“‘Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 1:8