I almost caused an accident today.

I didn’t mean to – I was trying to be helpful. But I didn’t see the bigger picture.

Anymore I am not a big fan of intersections. Intersections are weird. They are places where people meet daily for brief but very important interaction. Communication is minimal – but crucial. Different people, different speeds, different aptitudes, all meeting together for one objective: get through this fast and alive!

So we communicate; with our blinkers, or the gentle roll of our car, our hands, our head nods.  Occasionally we talk (with the windows up of course), and sometimes we yell with our heads out the window, or even use the horn. Just to get through fast and alive!

The older I get, the more I worry about pedestrians at intersections. My worry is rooted in some recent experiences where my morning jogs nearly ended with me as a new hood ornament. I get it – on foot, we don’t have the same communication tools as our 4-wheeled friends.

So today on my morning run, I arrived by foot at an intersection. My thought: let’s all get through this fast and alive! I don’t have a blinker or a horn so I motioned to drivers with my hand as if to say “I will stay put – you, come on through.” It seemed courteous, even thoughtful. Drivers would look at me, nod, and race on to the rest of their day. Each one, for a moment appreciating my leadership at the intersection. Until one. As we caught one another’s eye, he simply thought my wave was enough – and pulled right in front on a speeding car.

Now, I recognize in a court of law I likely wouldn’t be charged. Our laws demand more from drivers than depending on the wave of sweaty guys standing on corners. However, as I jogged away from the scene of a near tragedy I realized I was guilty. Guilty of not seeing the bigger picture and guilty of misdirecting into danger – guilty of careless communication!

Careless communication.

We all stand in intersections multiple times a day. These are places where people meet for brief interactions before speeding off to the rest of our days. They can be on a street, but more often they are in lunch rooms, email threads, coffee shops, around dinner tables, or even walking through a room. Every interaction, brief or not, is an intersection where communication is critical.

It is not enough for me to think I’m a mere pedestrian. Words are powerful. People actually listen. As crazy as that seems, they listen to me, and what they hear impacts them. What they hear from me affects how they see themselves, see me, understand God, feel love, or experience forgiveness.

At intersections I briefly hold a place of influence in another person’s life and in those moments let us communicate with the utmost care!

My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding. Psalm 49:3

The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright. Proverbs 15:7

PS: The car stopped just in the nick of time!