The photo below is an untouched image (apart from being rendered in black and white and slightly cropped) that I photographed in Boise, Idaho last year. You are looking at stairs ascending a large tank boldly labeled "203." Start at the bottom of the stairs and imagine ascending, one stair at a time. Don't rush your eyes across the image, but move methodically up the stairs, imagining how you would stand, how you would climb, how you would avoid falling. Continue until you get to the top.

Click the image to see a larger version. Do the exercise, then read on.

If you are like me and my wife, you may have been puzzled by some aspects of the image. The way things looked at first glance, and as you started your journey, might have changed along the way. Perhaps even dramatically. Perhaps you found that the logical conclusions you made as you began your upward trek were wrong, so wrong, in fact, as to be utterly upside down, completely the opposite of the reality that was in front of your nose the whole time. Perhaps it was only by looking at both the big picture and some intricate, easily missed details that you were able to properly frame the data--none of which needed to be discarded or retouched to comply with reality.

If that happened to you, then you've just experienced what I'll call the 203 Effect. The 203 Effect is part of life. It's part of growing up intellectually, spiritually, emotionally. Recognizing that assumptions we brought with us may be wrong, that paradigms we relied on to interpret the world may be completely flawed, and that easily deduced conclusions made in our rush to ascend the ladders of wisdom may leave us hanging or falling unexpectedly from what we thought was a secure perch. If you feel like you're loosing your foothold, like the security rails you thought were there are gone when you reach for them, and that everything has turned upside down on you, stay calm. Hold on, reevaluate, challenge lazy assumptions and look with new eyes to see how things fit together, learn how others have made the trek safely, and continue your journey upwards. There's no need to fall into despair.

Now of course this argument can be turned to many directions, as you wish. Here on this blog, I'm applying it, for example, to the good Christian who grew up "knowing" that Mormons were a cult and couldn't possibly even be considered Christian. Upside down! The argument can also apply to LDS folks who always thought the Book of Mormon described ALL ancient migrations to the Americas and covered the whole hemisphere in its scope, or to those who grew up thinking that prophets were nearly perfect or that we Mormons had all the answers. There's a lot of fallible humanity and human limitations mixed in with the revealed aspects of our religion. On the other hand, the argument especially applies to those who have things upside down because they see only the human weaknesses of individuals in the Church and miss that majesty and order of the divine structure that has been restored to earth that can lift and bless our lives more than any mortal remedy. You may be so focused on the rust and the shadows that you miss the beauty of the stairs.
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