Do you honk?

by Brenda on

I saw an almost-accident today, as a driver pulled in front of another vehicle without any room to spare. It appeared as though they didn’t even notice the other car they were pulling in front of. What would you do?

  • Hit your brakes and graciously let the other driver in?
  • Honk your horn LOUD so that they know they’re barging in front of you?
  • Use some crude language and/or hand gestures to let them know how rude they have been?
  • Barely honk your horn, to let them know “Hey, I’m here”?
  • Tell the other passengers in your vehicle what that other driver did wrong (driver’s ed, right?), while staying quiet to the person who so rudely cut you off?
  • Any other ideas?

I don’t honk much. I don’t use rude language or gestures. I am not a road-rager, and I’m proud of that. If someone were cutting in front of me and nearly caused an accident, I might honk quietly–a teeny tiny little honk, to say “Hi people. I’m here. You almost caused an accident with me, and my life, and the lives of the people in my car matter.” I wonder if they translate my little honk that way? I nearly always use the situation to train my children how *not* to drive. Ahem.

This scenario got me thinking about life…If another human barges in your way and causes near-accidents in your life, or possibly creates emotional dents in you, what do you do? Are you loud, angry, and clear about how you’ve been hurt? Do you graciously let them keep bumping into you, emotionally, getting banged and bruised, over and over? Do you tell the other people in your space how you’ve been hurt, without “honking” at the person who created the offense? Is your “horn” tapped quietly, as you attempt to communicate “Hey, I’m here, and my life matters. Please stop the damage you’re doing”?

I think that in life, I respond similarly to the way I respond in traffic. If I’m facing someone who cuts in front of me, slows me down, blocks my path, here’s what I do:

  • I quietly honk. “Hey. I’m here. Do you see me? I matter. Please stop what you’re doing, it’s destructive to me.”

Sometimes that works. Sometimes people are kind, and gentle, and gracious, and they respond like this: “Oh, I am SO sorry to cause damage to you, I care about your life, here, let me move over.” They are repentant. There is healing. We can drive along the road of life together and move forward as friends.

Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes they just don’t even hear my honk. They don’t get it. I am confused by this. Do they really not hear? Or do they not care? What do I do next, because I’m not getting anywhere on this road?

So, I turn to the people in my space: “Hey, do you see that so and so is pulling in front of me, driving slow, blocking my path? This is an issue. Help me.”

This is Biblical, too.

Matthew 18:15

 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

So, at the start, I quietly honk my horn. If they listen, YAY, we’re friends, all is well! If they don’t listen, I talk to the people in my space to seek help. Matthew 18:16 says:

“But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'”

I want to make a distinction between this scenario and stirring up dissension. Going to another for help, so that there are two or three witnesses to address an issue is not wrong, so long as the purpose is to go to the offender and try to win him or her over. If the purpose is only to complain for the sake of complaining, the Bible is clear about this:

“A perverse person stirs up conflict,
    and a gossip separates close friends.” -Proverbs 10:12

Sitting inside my car, complaining about the driver who just cut me off will not help that driver improve when they are on the road in the future. This is not a purpose that God has for any of us–to sit around, complaining about those around us who are creating emotional dents in our life, without doing something about it. We need to care about the person who is doing the offending enough to speak up, to let him or her know that what they are doing, how they are navigating through life at the moment, is damaging to the people who are traveling the same road.

It is hard to honk that horn, to be the loud one to say, “THIS IS WRONG.” It  is uncomfortable, and most of us care a whole lot about our own self-image, and honking the horn can be embarrassing. It makes people look at us. It makes us vulnerable. But we have to decide to put ourselves out there and “honk” sometimes, for the sake of the person who is doing the damage–so that they can grow. We have to.

Every once in a while, the person you’re honking at won’t want to listen, and it’s easier to talk to the listeners in your life who agree, and confirm with you, “they’re driving through life in crazy ways and denting others up as they go! It’s not ok!” Our goal as believers, though, should be to win our brothers (assuming they are a brother or sister in Christ) over, so that they will stop moving along this destructive path.

When you’ve taken along 2 or 3 witnesses, and put your horns together to make a louder sound; “HEY! Look at this destruction you’re creating! It’s NOT ok!” and they still don’t listen, the Bible is clear:

Matthew 18:17 “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

And at that point, unfortunately, the decision might be, take a left. Get off the road. Go a different direction. You can’t drive side-by-side with someone who keeps symbolically cutting in front of you repeatedly, keeping you from the road that God intended you to travel. You would not stay on the freeway with a drunk driver, right? Get off the freeway. Take the back roads. You’ll find yourself loosening up on the wheel (of life), relaxing your muscles, singing to the music, and praising God for the things that He’s showing you along the way….

The prayer from the beginning is that the destructive driver would alter his or her behaviors so that the lives of those around may be preserved and protected. This is the BEST case scenario…To get there, sometimes, we have to hit our brakes and then honk the horn, to let them know “you’re not behaving safely.” Sometimes we need to call in others to convince them to stop the destruction. And sometimes they don’t listen, and we have to choose another road in life…And that’s ok…But it all starts with the honk, and feeling comfortable enough, even if it’s a quiet honk, to make a noise, to say, “Hey, I’m here, and what you’re doing isn’t ok”…no matter how embarrassing or vulnerable it feels….Speak up. Honk the horn….


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